drwill's bailiwick

General insights and product information by David R. Williamson, Senior Development Manager

Résumé Audience

I’ve been reading a blog called Manager Tools recently based on a recommendation from a colleague. It has me thinking about a part of my job I don’t usually discuss much: interviewing. I’ve spent a lot of time looking over various résumés from people, and I’m still astonished how little they understand about who is reading their résumé and how it is interpreted. In fact, there seems to be a lot of hocus pocus about what people think is important in a résumé, and maybe it is just me but I find most of it misleading and often outright wrong.

One example is when people list a billion technologies that they “know”. I’m cynical about how well they actually know any of those things well enough to really put it down. It is usually more accurate to say they are familiar with them, and sometimes even as bad as “something I heard about once”. The shotgun approach of I-know-a-lot-of-things isn’t really impressive. In fact, if an interviewer happens to ask you about one of the technologies that they know really well and find out you don’t know squat, then that can be (and has been) pretty awkward in the interview.

Yes, I know it is nice to put in all the right buzzwords for résumé queries to pick up on yours, and the real challenge is distilling what you really know and finding a way to put that in consumable paragraphs of how you used that technology. A list of items means very little to me because there is no context. Give me the context, and I’ll find you a lot more believable and interesting as a candidate. What you are showing me is that you think about how you communicate and can do so effectively, not just giving me a bulleted list of things that might be relevant – which isn’t useful.