Friday, October 18, 2013

Resume "Psychology"

Can anyone here read Greek?  γνῶθι σεαυτόν   transliterated: gnōthi seauton other words, "KNOW THYSELF".

When talking about the resume as a tool, we often fail to realize that the resume really isn't about us.  It is and must be about the AUDIENCE.  There is a great clip on YouTube:  - A great parody song showing a piano player with his compilation of "all about me" songs, extolling the virtues of well....himself.

If we approach a resume and writing our resume with the "It's all about ME" mentality then you are going to run into one huge problem:  It's really not about's about what your audience wants and needs.  I love this quote: "The starting point for ALL successful communication is becoming aware of the intended audience and approaching them on an appropriate level."  C'mon people...we've all got a bit of "salesman" in us...this is sales 101.  You have to know what your customer wants.

So let's identify who the audience for our resume is - and what it is they want (incidentally, I googled the phrase "what do technology companies look for in a resume" and there were over 107,000,000 unique results....yeah, that is about right).  First, the who.  Think of your own company or any company that you've worked for in the past.  In their hiring process, who is it that is a part of the process and actually sees the resume.  Most companies have the following players involved:

1.  Human Resources and/or Recruiters. The average HR or Recruiter doesn't even read your resume.  In fact, nobody really "reads" your resume....except you.  Everyone scans.  We all have hundreds of other things to do.  Here is the honest truth - I've been recruiting for around 14 years, doing some quick math...that is probably between 400,000 and 600,000 resumes I've reviewed.  I average around 100 per day.  Most recruiters and HR folks spend and average of 6-10 seconds looking at your resume.  What are they looking for?  KEY WORDS - in other words key technologies.  Make sure that they are in your resume so you don't get sorted out.  Most companies and recruiters use some type of ATS and search tool that works on Boolean logic.  They don't understand the technology you use, but know the tools and things associated with what their tech stack is.  If you don't have it on your resume somewhere, chances are, you won't even get noticed.  They are also looking for reasons "NOT" to forward your resume to a manager.  Be aware of any goofy contact info (emails like or or - and yes, I see that all the time as a recruiter), any gaps in your resume between jobs, etc.

2. Hiring Managers.  Hiring managers don't read your resume either...but they are very different from HR and recruiters.  They are super busy with production and the last thing they have time for is resume reviews.  They want to see less resumes, not more.  The over-riding emphasis a hiring manager has is - "Can this person do the job, so I don't have to keep worrying about reviewing resumes and doing interviews that take time away from my team's production".  Content is key for hiring managers.  Not key words, not lists of technologies, but HOW DID YOU USE THE TECHNOLOGY.  What were the tools you used and why?  How did you use the tools?  Do the tools apply to my company environment?  If I hire you, are you going to be a drain on my already limited time?  Keep in mind that you need to be specific in your content so that hiring managers KNOW what you do/did, instead of guessing at a general technology list.  For example:  rather than, "Used SQL to query the database", something like, "Utilized aggregate functions and inner joins to create complex SQL queries across 10 Oracle databases and 3 terabytes of data, resulting in valuable and actionable reporting that ultimately increased ROI for the marketing department" will have a much greater impact on a hiring manager.  You didn't just fill the basic "duties", but you brought value.

3. Team Members.  Most managers will involve a team in the resume review.  Probably because they just don't have time to review every resume, also perhaps because they don't want to be the only one in the process - just in case they hire "the wrong person" (discussion for another blog, another day), but also because ultimately, you will be a part of a team and everyone will need to be able to work together to accomplish the team and company goals.  So what do team members look for?  Most importantly to the team are the questions:  "Can I work with this person everyday" and "Is this person going to cause me more work or hand-holding".  Again, content and description of accomplishments is key - but remember to balance it with humility...or more importantly believability.  Nobody wants to work with a huge ego or an I can do everything type of personality.

4.  Executive Management.  Most executive will glance at your resume at best.  It's probably more crucial to have this down pat verbally for the interview, than in the resume, but it's great to be able to actually have it documented in your resume as well.  All executives care about the same thing.......MONEY.  It's all about the bottom line at this level - and that is a good thing....that's what keeps companies running and growing and paying your salary.  You want execs who care about money, money, money.  So what are they looking for in an employee?  Plain and simple.  How can you SAVE their company money, or MAKE them money.  That's the bottom line!  In other words, focus your resume on QUANTIFIABLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS.  This is more difficult, but absolutely imperative.  Know what your value is/was at every company and every position you've held.  Get it in writing/documented in your resume, and embed it in your mind for the interview.

 So - for a quick reference, here are some ideas to keep in mind for each of the audiences we've discussed for your resume.  We can get into more specific detail with my next entry.  Keep in mind the following when preparing to write/re-write your resume:
 - Contact information (keep it professional)
 - Resume Length (most tech resumes should be 2-4 pages)
 - Aesthetics (use appropriate bolding, readable font + size, bullets not paragraphs, white space)
 - Format (Experience, Education, Awards, Industry Involvment, etc.)

More coming soon.....

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