[colug-jobs] A first resume

Rick Hornsby richardjhornsby at gmail.com
Mon Jun 6 23:31:35 EDT 2016

> On Jun 6, 2016, at 16:38, Zach Villers <zachvatwork at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello World,
> I currently work as a PMI certified PM at Time Warner (now Charter) and
> would like to move into a sys admin or related position at a new
> company. I made a first stab at a resume and would appreciate any
> feedback, guidance, or interview requests.

So I'll provide my feedback publicly not to be publicly critical, but so that others can be publicly critical of my feedback and to offer my suggestions to others who are in your boat.  I'm looking at your resume from the perspective of it being handed to me as a potential candidate for a job.

Writing a good resume is extremely hard.  It takes a lot of work, and many (many) revisions.  I hate doing it, and I hate how difficult it is.  Like many of us in the IT field, I'm an introvert, so putting my life on a piece of paper - even though it is just my professional life, is challenging to the point where it sometimes feels like it is painful.  Do not give up.  Keep trying, keep revising.  You're going to spend your entire career revising your resume, and occasionally throwing it out entirely to start over.  Keep working at it.  Now, onto the specifics.

TL;DR: There are no major syntactical or grammatical errors that I can see (that's a win), but overall the content of the resume is light on specifics. 

# Content

An employer is probably going to ask what you were doing between 1996 (graduation) and 2007 when you started at TWC.  Since there appears to be an 11 year gap on your resume from the time you left school to when your professional career started, be prepared for a question about it.  If you don't want to answer that, I'd leave the graduation year off.  They may still ask, but there's less of a chance.  I'm not asking you to reveal any information, but if you were serving honorably in the military, please include that.  I consider that a huge positive in your favor.

Content-wise, the resume is a little bit light.  A 1 sentence summary of your role at each of your chosen positions is fine (including "Community Experience").  But please give me more.  Give me the technologies and projects you worked on.  Give me a quick snapshot of your successes in the role.

Questions I would ask you in an interview would be things like "So Zach, tell me specifically about how you tracked and improved dispatch agent performance as a dispatch manager.  What was your specific role in implementation of large-scale systems integration and what was your contribution; what does large-scale mean to you?  Not including your RHCSA, what qualifications do you have that would make you a good Linux SA?"  Get ahead of those questions, albeit briefly, in your resume.  Be pithy and leave them wanting more, but give them enough to justify passing your resume onto the next step and spending the time with you for an interview.

Don't go overboard though and give everything away -- as one of my business instructors reminded us over and over, the sole job of the resume is to get you a interview.  That's it.

Education - a 3.4 GPA is good, but I'd leave the GPA off.  It was 20 years ago, and frankly, employers usually don't seem to care unless you're coming right out of school.  "B.S., Business Administration" - I would use the long-form version of 'Admin' here.

If you want a job doing RHEL work, make your RHCSA more obvious. If you're going to put that in your professional summary, make it the first thing, not the middle thing.  I'm not 100% sure about this as a general matter, but I wouldn't mind if someone's resume was titled "Zach Villers, RHCSA".  I would remember that.

When thinking about your resume and your job interviews, there's an important psychological principle called primacy/recency effect.  That is, people tend to recall best those things which are first (primary) and last (recency).  Reading your professional summary, most people are going to remember "Zach is a project manager, and Zach is an avid learner" (I'm being a bit literal) - the stuff in the middle gets kind of lost or at least muddled.  In an interview, primacy and recency is the initial greeting, the first few minutes and how things end.

As an aside, you've been around long enough you probably don't need to be reminded of this.  During a resume submission, candidacy, and interview process how you treat the receptionist, administrative assistants, and the HR people can absolutely, unquestionably blow it for you.  Be especially polite and kind to them - always, always, always.

Unless you really want a professional employer trolling through your personal social media stream or you're applying for a job where that matters or specifically helps (ie a social media PR role), I wouldn't put it on the resume.

A link to your github is not necessarily bad.  However, be prepared for a technical interviewer like me to pick something of yours from there and challenge you to explain it, justify it, justify why you didn't do this or that, etc.  I'm not trying to be a jerk, I want to know first of all, if the work is yours (you'd be surprised) and I want to know how and why you think about a problem/solution the way you do.  If you want to show off code samples, you might want to provide a shortened url to a gist (ie a link each to a Python script and a shell script) or something along those lines.  I pulled up your github page and was having a hard time sorting out what was yours, what was someone else's (forked repos), but more importantly I had no idea what you wanted me to look at.

If you don't think you can or want to do that as it relates to your github repo, you can leave it off.  I'm not usually looking for awesome coder skillz in a sysadmin, but by putting a link to your github, you're inviting me to use that as part of the evaluation.

The interests section is a tough call.  I would set it aside while you work on elaborating out the sections about your professional career, and maybe if there's reasonable room left, maybe put that back in.  You don't want it to seem like fluff you're using to fill up the page.

Be prepared for an interviewer to steer and stay away from any discussion about your kids.  It's not personal, it's not because they don't like kids or they don't like you, it's a legal thing.  Especially at larger companies, they cannot and will not discuss anything related to your age, your martial status, your children etc - they don't want to get sued for any kind of discrimination (ie age) if you don't get the job.

# Format

A 10 point font is very small.  It's tiny on my screens.  Also, I'd strongly suggest a different font face.  Arial, Geneva, or another non-serif font works good.  Times New Roman is pretty much the default for MS Word, and so doesn't stand out at all.  Put some creativity into it.  I absolutely know how hard that is.  You're looking for a technical role, and not a graphic design job.  Still, put some hours into the format and design, look around the internets for examples of creative resumes for ideas.  You want your resume to look professional, but also want it to stand out from everyone else's.

You can use two pages.  This goes a little bit to content - please elaborate especially about your professional career -- use both pages if you need to.  If this was your first job, or you were fresh out of school, I would definitely not recommend that.  Three pages is getting a little bit excessive and you're probably being too verbose.

One last anecdote simply because it comes from a recent resume that hit my desk: It absolutely must be your resume, in your own words.  Please, do not plagiarize any part of the content of your resume.  Please do not copy exactly whole paragraphs from Wikipedia (including the footnote references...) and other sources that you did not write into your resume.  Despite what seemed like otherwise moderate background and skills, that guy is not getting an interview.

> I do have an RHCSA cert and contribute as I can with Fedora (FAS user:
> aikidouke). I script in bash in python, use ansible a bit and would be
> looking for an entry level/junior position.

While I understand you might be hesitant because maybe your technical skills aren't as deep as you'd like, don't sell yourself short.  Your resume doesn't necessarily read as entry level to me.  Folks with aptitude and work experience (which you have) - even if it isn't in the exact skill needed - I would probably consider qualified for mid-level technical roles, with a track toward senior-level without a huge delay.

My general idea of entry level are kids right out of college with little to no work experience, or someone with maybe a few years of work experience and who is looking to get into a technical role but has no technical background at all (ie sales, marketing, etc).

Hope this helps some.

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