Archives for IT resumes

Why I do what I do (part III of my series on work attitudes)

Photo courtesy of koka_sexton on Flickr creative commons: http://bit.ly/1Apu1uz.

Photo courtesy of koka_sexton on Flickr creative commons: http://bit.ly/1Apu1uz.

My mom was underpaid and underappreciated. She looked at numbers all day so when she got home she didn’t want to play cards with me. One my favorite things to do was play (win) Rummy.

My dad afforded a nice lifestyle pre-divorce. He napped when he came home when I wanted to play catch. I remember being really little and begging to play “horsey.” Then, the divorce.  It was a long emotional and financial battle that decimated our standard of living for a while. My mom recovered more easily because she continued working and re-married while my dad was forced into early retirement, working odd jobs and surviving on a lesser pension and eventually social security. Now, his health insurance was eliminated as a retirement benefit just when he needs it most.

My brothers enjoyed a higher standard of living for much longer. For the most part, their financial blueprint (J. Harv Eker’s term) was set during better years. All I learned about work and money was that it was tiring and no matter how hard you worked, eventually, there would be no pay off or not the kind that I wanted. I wanted a lot. I dreamt of a BIG life. When I played monopoly with my friend, Julie, we would daydream about huge houses with rooms for all the animals we would rescue and adopt. When I dreamt of a big life, there were always big things I could do for other people at the forefront and at the same time provide exotic opportunities for my kids.

So, going into college, my idea of being a “successful” adult was that you get a degree so you’re not stuck for 20 years in a dead-end clerk job. But I didn’t want to be the boss, either, because then I’d hold down the little guy. Choosing radio as my career was an anti-corporate statement to all of my seemingly misguided advisors. Not until I started attempting to make a buck while I worked in radio that I got to see that not all companies operate like, well, almost every company depicted in every sit com and movie up until…. uh… Grandma’s Boy (circa 2006.)

Then, I realized as a recruiter I could place people in the “good jobs.” At least, that is what I thought I would like best about recruiting, and it was…when it happened. However, speaking with 500 candidates every week and placing maybe one of them is hardly a record of success given my mission.  Plus, for a good percentage of the jobs, my position on the vendor chain didn’t allow me to fully assess the suitability of a job for a candidate. When I was able to get the goods on a job straight from the hiring manager, their budget often prevented me from presenting the best candidate.  So, it was frustrating, but enlightening. Meanwhile, it was becoming clearer what career was going to give me the best chance at really making a difference to professionals seeking career stardom, or even simply career satisfaction – career coaching. Right alongside that was résumé writing. IT résumés appeared to be enigmas for other professional résumé writers. I could tell when a candidate had paid someone to write it, but, unfortunately, oftentimes had to tell them to add or change something.

Eight years after I changed careers yet again, I cannot only say that I found my passion and my purpose, but I have embodied and developed a gift. Now that career fulfillment is something I can speak about first-hand, I want it for EVERYONE!  Thankfully, I have been able to dramatically impact people’s quality of life in a positive way, not that I deserve all of the credit – all of these people were already successful in many ways.  In fact, there is not ONE client that I would say was not BRILLIANT.

Looking forward, you will see an expanded offering of solutions that will fit virtually any budget, and they will generate superior results to anything else currently offered.  I vow to continue my own personal and professional development, and to expand my team in numbers and capacity to help you UNVEIL YOUR BRILLIANCE.

May 2015 bring you better opportunities, better income, and better quality of life!

Heavy D & The Boyz – Now That We Found Love ft. Aaron Hall

Music video by Heavy D & The Boyz performing Now That We Found Love. (C) 1991 Geffen Records

Use Keywords With Care or Beware

Accessibility Cloud by Itjil on Flickr

Accessibility Cloud by Itjil on Flickr

Annemarie Walter, President of My Career Transitions, a local job search support group and valued LinkedIn connection, sent to me a LinkedIn post regarding 42 IT keywords to share with TPNG, the Technical Professional Networking Group, which I co-chair.

 

Before I passed it along, however, there were three important disclaimers about the author’s advice that I wanted to make sure were passed along with it based on my experience as an IT recruiter and my specialized experience in IT résumés and career management. I want to cover them all in detail, but want each to be equally important, so this is part 1 of 3 regarding this post. I thank the author, Greg Lachs, for his list, as I find it to be a very good resource for IT professionals who have been struggling trying to find suitable job opportunities by searching for a title online.

 

Part 1 – I want to make sure that no job seeker takes these keywords and “dumps” them into a résumé or LinkedIn profile in hopes of being found and qualified.

 

Part 2 – How to refer to yourself in your LinkedIn headline and your résumé headline when your title has many variations.

 

Part 3 – Keyword searching for opportunities should occupy less than 10% of the time allocated to your job search. So, what are you doing with 90% of your time?

 

(Follow me now so you know when Parts 2 and 3 come out – share this with an IT job seeker you know.)

 

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It is true that the keywords in this list are probably the same keywords that recruiters are using to identify and search for talent. However, since job boards became popular resources around the turn of the millennium, many tactics have been employed by job seekers to rise to the top of search results, including dumping keywords. Eventually, these tactics backfire.

 

For clarity, dumping means including long list of arbitrary skill sets with out putting them in the context of your actual experience and achievements. When I was an IT recruiter, there were even some sly job seekers who would include lists of keywords in white text so that they were not visible on the copy, but would be stored in a database. Upon searching the actual document for the keywords, however, if the only place I found a keyword was in a list, I considered that candidate under-qualified and moved on, and if it was hidden in this manner, I also deemed them sneaky and blacklisted them – YES, recruiters blacklist candidates. More on that in another post.

 

I could easily distinguish a professionally prepared résumé from an amateur resume. However, what frustrated me about many of the professionally written résumés was the focus on functional details or vague achievements that did not explain the scope of a project or job and lacked context around technical skills.

 

In order to present a candidate competitively against other candidates, I had to be able to substantiate the depth of the candidate’s experience with the technical requirements of the job. There were several ways to do this, including a table or skill summary, but the best way to do this was to include within the professional experience demonstrative details of how that candidate applied technologies to complete a project or perform their job. I often had to procure these details through a phone screen and then coax the client into including them within their résumé. This was challenging for most of them, so if they were presentable enough, I would take it on myself. I happened to enjoy it and was very good at it, hence was born my career as an IT résumé writer.

 

Here is my “secret recipe” for gathering all of the anecdotal evidence necessary to fully substantiate the value of technical skills, as well as soft skills.

 

> Situation – the conditions that existed that necessitated a change or some kind of action

> Challenge(s) – what made this an impressive feat

> People impacted and the impact – who was experiencing the conditions AND who was engaged to address it

> Decision made – and who made it

> Actions taken – and by whom (“we” is not specific enough.)

> Skills, talents applied – “hard” and “soft” skills

> Tools used – technical tools, as well as approaches and methodologies

> Results – what outcomes did the actions produce in as many measurable terms as possible. Think about the PROOF that the action was taken or that it was successful

> Impact – how that trickled down to other people

 

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How to put these details into succinct two-line bullets, well, that’s the REAL challenge. I find that techniques I’ve learned through nearly a decade of experience are much harder to teach, even to those with innate writing talents and highly developed writing skills. If you have an interest in learning, I’d be happy to evaluate adding you to my team, though most people writing this post would probably prefer letting someone else do it, because in the time it would take you to master it, you could have been earning a great salary doing what you are really good at.

 

Here is a hint, though: Start with an action verb conjugated in 1st person and refer first to the the result or impact in measurable terms

 

Stay tuned for Part 2: How to refer to yourself in your LinkedIn headline and your resume headline when your title has many variations.