[colug-jobs] A first resume

Scott Merrill skippy at skippy.net
Tue Jun 7 08:55:32 EDT 2016

On Mon, Jun 6, 2016 at 11:31 PM, Rick Hornsby <richardjhornsby at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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.

Thanks for being brave enough to start this discussion.  There are a
lot of nuances to job searching and resume building; and it often
seems like people closely guard what works for them, without sharing.

> 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.

Rick's comments are great, and I agree with almost all of them.

Personally, I dislike lists of skills or technologies without specific
context.  These often look like a contrived effort to pad out the

Fun anecdote: a resume I reviewed for a junior candidate listed
something like "experience with Linux and BSD".  When asked "Which is
your favorite BSD flavor, and why" the candidate admitted that they
were padding their resume.  It was a painful experience for everyone

If you include a list of skills or products, be prepared to speak
cogently about each and every one.

> 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.

This is great advice.  Simply listing tasks accomplished is the bare
minimum for a resume.  If you can include quantification of success,
that puts you ahead of the game.  What efficiencies have you
personally made happen?  How much better are things as a result of
your work?

> 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.

I'm going to disagree a bit here.  The resume PLUS the cover letter is
what will most likely get you an interview.  See below for more.

> 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.


> 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.

It's not too hard to see which repos are yours, versus which are
forked, by clicking the "Sources" link at the top of this page:
But few of your repos have useful READMEs in them, so I can't really
tell what they are.  Make it easy for me to know what you're doing.

> 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.

Personally, I think most of what you have in the interests section
would be better suited in a cover letter.  This gives you a prose
vehicle to relate your personal interests to your technical skills,
and then to draw a connection to the professional job for which you
are applying.

Some people encourage tweaking your resume for the job, but I've had
much better experience adjusting the contents of my cover letter to
the job.  This allows you to steer how people see you, rather than let
them draw conclusions based on an impersonal and forgettable resume.
(And after you've looked at more than 2 resumes when hiring, they're
*all* forgettable.  Nothing personal!)

>> I do have an RHCSA cert and contribute as I can with Fedora

Expound on this in your cover letter.  If you have links to
publicly-viewable activity within Fedora you could include those in
your resume, too. Making it easy to see what you've done, and how
you've done it, goes a long way to distinguish you from other
candidates.  Draw connections between the work you do for Fedora and
the work you'd like to do professionally.

> 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.


Another thing to consider is listing your involvement in COLUG, and
other user groups.  Any presentations you've given would be good
links, too.  If you haven't given any presentations, consider doing

Many employers value community involvement, but don't specifically ask
about it in job descriptions.  Your involvement in the technical
community expands your professional network, and gives you access to
answers that others might not have.  Celebrate this fact.  Consider
getting involved with LOPSA, or Ohio LinuxFest, or any other local
technical group. Give presentations as you can.  Submit talks to
conferences as you can.  Talk about these activities in your cover

Good luck!

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