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Resume Tips – Knowing Your Audience

Published June 19th, 2013 by Mak

It is very difficult to look through job sites on the web and not see a million tips on how to improve your resume. In discussions with the team here at Comrise, it seems to us that the best resume tips can be boiled down to one thing: Knowing Your Audience.

Consider that we live in a world of near-immediate gratification, with the immediacy of the internet doing nothing to help that. IT professionals probably know that better than most, as they will get calls from coworkers saying “E-MAIL IS DOWN, FIX IT FIX…oh, there it goes.” With that in mind, understand that most people reading resumes are going to decide whether to keep reading in the first half-page. Make sure that your best qualities come earlier on your resume than later.

Because of this desire for immediacy, another tip for your resume involves being versatile. It would be nice to be able to just made one resume and just send it out for all to see, but as we noted just now, you probably don’t have that luxury. Indeed, if you have a lot of varied experience, you’re going to want to highlight the experience that specifically applies to the position your seeking. If you’re seeking a managerial position, you’ll want to bring your managerial experience to the top, and then mention all your other qualifications. If the employer wants an expert in Such-and-Such technology, don’t make them search through a lengthy alphabetical list to find it on your resume. It’s much better to say “Hey, I’ve got several years of Such-and-Such experience, along with being certified in Etc.-tech and That-Other-One.”

Which brings us to another key point: education and certification. If you graduated from a particularly prestigious school, or your degree is particularly on point for the position you’re seeking, put it early in the resume. The same goes for certifications. Otherwise, it’s fine to keep your education and certifications towards the bottom of the resume.

Something else to keep in mind is that employers are going to be much more interested in what you have done than where you have been. It’s all well and good to say “this is where I worked and these were my responsibilities,” but the resume that stands out will be the one that says “this is where I worked, and this is how I excelled at my responsibilities.” You’ll want a mix of what you did, and what you did that made your workplace better for you having been there. Make sure to use action verbs as well; saying “I developed X” is much better than “I was responsible for the development of X.” Plus it gets straight to the point, taking up much less space.

Space is, of course, a big consideration when it comes to a resume. One general guideline is to take up one page, front and back. However, if you’ve got decades of experience, employers might find it a little strange to find your experience fits in such a short space. The longer you’ve been in the game, the more space you’re allowed to take, but don’t forget the short internet-fueled attention span; get to the point quickly and don’t meander. If you take more than 3 pages, you’ll want to edit some.

Resume writing can be a serious pain, but we encourage you to use these tips. Lastly, for any assistance or to learn more about our current job openings, please feel free to get in touch with us.

Use Numbers to Quantify Your Value During the Interview

Published May 20th, 2013 by Mak

When interviewing candidates for jobs, employers are interested in two things, according to HR professional and freelance writer Deborah S. Hildebrand: A) Can you do the job? and B) If you can do the job for their organization?

Thus, aside from demonstrating that you have all the requisite talents outlined in the job posting, such as the ability to communicate and required technical skills, candidates should consider using numbers to quantify their value.

In another Hildebrand post, “Use Numbers to Quantify Your Work Experience and Get a Job,” she explains the importance of adding numbers to your resume. Quantifying adds a dimension that helps employers visualize your real value.

According to this CBS Money Watch post, here are a few suggestions on how to “quantify” your resume:

  • Consider the projects you’ve worked on that contributed to the bottom line. For example, Engineers can explain how he or she designed a new app the company took to market or developed a new program to help sales increase revenue.
  • Share examples of when you performed outside the scope of your job. Talk about how you reduce costs by taking on greater responsibilities, or even simply taking on responsibilities of an absent colleague.
  • Talk about what you did to contribute to cost containment. Explain how you used new technology or tools to reduce expenses or improve employee productivity.

The fact is that quantifying this information helps potential employers gain a better understanding of your contributions. For more tips on interviewing and insight into finding the right career opportunity for you, browse our website or contact us.

IT job interview tips: four things you should not do

Published October 5th, 2012 by Mak

Going for an IT job interview? Here are some job interview tips on what NOT to do from Lisa Vaas, online journalist and former Executive Editor for eWEEK:

No know-it-alls allowed…

Don’t be an arrogant know-it-all. That impression usually comes out by not asking questions during the interview when encouraged to do so. Experienced interviewers evaluate the uninquisitive interviewee as “the wrong kind of thinker,” who shows a lack of curiosity and “a prima donna’s belief” of knowing everything there is to know. Experience with highly skilled people who “know everything” is that they tend to make poor team players.

Lay off techie-talk.

Stay away from acronyms and excessively technical language. Employers want to find out how the IT job applicant can relate to customers and not make people feel like dummies. So the idea is to NOT talk down to the interviewer.

There is no “I” in “team.”

Don’t just talk about yourself. You won’t be impressing anyone just by talking about your accomplishments. What they are looking for is someone who has a track record as a contributing member of a team. You got the interview call on the basis that you are an accomplished professional. It is best to talk more abut the people and teams you worked with and use the plural first person pronouns “we” and “us” in those descriptions.

No bad mouthing ex-coworkers

Don’t ever say disrespectful or harsh things about people you once worked with. You are being judged in large part on your attitude, because poor attitude creates tension and low productivity in any working environment. If you are asked to relate some negative experience with a past coworker do it in a way that shows you learned something about dealing with different personalities.

Recognize possible “people-skill deficits.”

Finally, accept the fact that IT workers can sometimes be not very adept in dealing with people. Dealing with code and compilers, after all, is sometimes a lot easier than having to reason with people. If you recognize that about yourself, do something about it.

In the IT job market and looking for the ideal position with one of our clients (or even us!)? Contact us and check out our job listing.

 

Is Your Technology Hiring Process Screening Out Great Candidates?

Published September 9th, 2012 by Mak

The current wisdom about the job situation in the U.S. is full of contradictions:

  • There are no jobs.
  • There are jobs but no skilled workers.
  • There are skilled workers but they are not qualified for the available jobs.
  • Qualified workers exist for the available jobs but there is a problem with matching up the workers and the jobs.

Why is this happening and how do we fix it?

According to USA Today a study by Beyond.com indicates one problem is the way job descriptions are written, especially for technology hiring. Job descriptions seem to go from one extreme to the other; either they are so vague that job seekers are unable to identify the position or the description contains a lengthy list of specific language or tool experience unlikely to be found in a single individual.

Much of it comes down to poor screening tools with limited options. The software so many companies use to try to screen out unqualified candidates is not very flexible or intuitive. It often runs best on lists of software languages, accounting terms, or systems experience that are not as essential as being able to bring a team together and get a project out on time. But the skills for the latter are difficult to program into the filter.

When the filter is created from these lists it sorts through the incoming applications and weeds out any candidate that does not perfectly match. The longer and more specific the list of requirements, the lower the likelihood of finding a candidate that meets them all. At the end of the process, there is nobody left standing. The hiring manager can’t understand why no candidates are being referred for interview while HR sees plenty of resumes but no one appeared to be qualified.

To correct this problem hiring managers must first determine exactly what skills a position truly requires. Then they can decide which skills could be taught and which skills must be present at the time of hire. Working together with HR and recruiters, a realistic description of these skills can be used to prepare a more effective filter that is capable of screening out truly unqualified applicants and producing a short list of candidates who may not have every skill desired but who may be able to the do the job with some training.

If you are experiencing a similar problem within your organization, connect with your recruiters to ensure that job descriptions are accurate and great candidates are not being missed. To learn more contact us.

Forbes: Tech companies look for that just-right resume in the hiring process.

Published August 31st, 2012 by Mak

Software engineers, according to Gayle Laakmann McDowell, author of ‘Cracking the Coding Interview,’ need to pay particular attention in the hiring process on how they write their resumes, according to her post on Forbes.com, “What Are Common Mistakes That Applicants Make When Writing Their Resumes for Tech Companies.”

Even though her overview is written with the tech applicant foremost in her mind, her tips do apply across the board; furthermore, she focuses on what she classifies as “the most common serious mistakes” in writing the resume.

Before you get too deep-in-the-weeds in a detailed resume, take to heart her pithy reminder that “resumes are not read; they are skimmed for about 15 seconds;” furthermore, a screener is unlikely to read the entire piece.

That said, here is a summary of the most common missteps in writing the resume:

  • “1. Long Resumes:” Short and concise with no more than 2 pages is her advice.
  • “2. Paragraphs/Lengthy Bullets:” Readers abhor paragraphs…and don’t use more than 1-2 lines in the bullet copy; “…ideally, no more than half of the bullets should be 2 lines.”
  • “3. Team/Group Focus:” Take credit up front for the projects you worked on, designed, created, etc. Leave out the team association, the reader is interested in “you.” Here it’s all about “accomplishments and achievements.”
  • “4. Messy Resumes:” She believes software engineers should not be creating “their own templates…If you’re not good at design, why are you doing this?” Keep your pages uncluttered and easy to read. McDowell has no problem with using a well-designed template, one with columns, which makes it easier for the reader to scan important info.
  • “5. Listing Responsibility instead of Accomplishments:” Break down the responsibilities and then use bullets. Pick out 3-5 accomplishments in the roles you’ve chosen to highlight, and repeat for each role or assignment.
  • “6. Leaving out Cool Stuff Because It’s Not ‘Resume Material’: The takeaway in all the material you might be considering for your resume comes down to this: “start thinking about if something makes you look more or less awesome.”

Our global clients are always looking for that ‘just right’ candidate on a contract, contract-to-hire and even full-time employment. Contact us for more information on how Comrise can help you marketed your IT skills, education and experience.