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Are Sloppy Résumés OK?

44 replies on 3 pages. Most recent reply: Sep 26, 2010 3:11 PM by Sean Landis

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Sean Landis

Posts: 129
Nickname: seanl
Registered: Mar, 2002

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 25, 2010 3:17 PM
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Hi Morgan,

I was in a similar situation with a placement company and they also told me that networking is critical. In our industry, I think networking is very useful getting the candidate to the door, but not often through the door. The placement company dealt with numerous industries, so maybe in other markets, things are different. Think MBA looking for a job.

> Frankly, I don't think
> "Agile Hiring" is possible, cause it will probably take 6
> months to find out what you've got.

The 'agile' principles I understand work very well in the face of uncertainty: environments where information is incomplete, there is noise, and things change. Seems to fit well with hiring.

> A candidate may know all the latest buzzwords and
> technologies but have no idea how to integrate them into a
> nice O-O, or SOA or REST or whatever you are using,
> architecture. They may be so wedded to their buzzwords
> that when Buzzword++ comes along they can't migrate over
> to it.

Ah buzzwords. A well-written resume is only that. It makes few promises of the quality of the candidate. A poorly written resume, on the other hand, is solid evidence of the quality of the candidate. Which is the topic of the article.

> I treat Resumes much like advertisements - let the buyer
> beware.

I think a good resume is more than just an advertisement but, yes, buyer beware. Teasing out the quality of the candidate is a different and very large topic.

Sean Landis

Posts: 129
Nickname: seanl
Registered: Mar, 2002

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 25, 2010 3:28 PM
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Hi Robert,

> > That's nonsense. First, You can't covey future efforts.
>
> Of course you can. You must. What's the standard
> interview question: what do you want to be doing in 5
> years? Yes??? Of course. The resume is the first place
> you tell prospective employers where you want to go.
> Future efforts.

I differentiate between the candidate's desires, and candidate's capability when trying to read the future.

I am a big fan of hiring senior people so it is a standard question to ask what the candidate's career intentions are, e.g., management or technology.

On the other hand, the candidate's career history draws a trajectory that can be extrapolated into the future. This is just as interesting to me as the candidate's stated desires.

> The format du jour is bullet point. nothing but
> incomplete sentences.

I do not find that to be the case. But I have only read about 1000 resumes in the last four years so it's a pretty small sample.

Bill Venners

Posts: 2248
Nickname: bv
Registered: Jan, 2002

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 25, 2010 3:51 PM
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> Can I write the next next idiotic Artima post on hiring?
> I'll advocate that you not hire developers if the color
> r of their interview clothes doesn't properly complement
> their eyes and complexion. I mean, just like a resume, if
> they want to show knowledge and experience they could
> research and do that, right?

One thing that may be getting lost here is that the resume screen is the first barrier for a candidate to get across. After that is likely a phone interview, and only if they get past that would they have an opportunity to come on site for an interview (which would be the first time anyone would see how well their clothes matches their eye color). I think Sean is simply saying that a resume that communicates poorly is enough justification to disqualify someone at the resume screening phase. It is expensive to have qualified employees doing phone interviews and more expensive to bring someone in for an on-site interview, so companies need to prune out by screening resumes as best they can.

That said, I do remember one company where we had been interviewing candidates. Everyone always wore a tie to the interview and one day some guy came in without a tie. What I noticed is that we noticed. We talked about it. I'm sure it wasn't a disqualifying move had there not been other problems, but we felt it a sign he didn't take us seriously. (Another sign was that he took a cell phone call during the interview.) So I think clothes matter too, not in the fashion sense, but in the demonstrating some level of professionalism sense.

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 25, 2010 8:12 PM
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> That said, I do remember one company where we had been
> interviewing candidates. Everyone always wore a tie to the
> interview and one day some guy came in without a tie. What
> I noticed is that we noticed. We talked about it. I'm sure
> it wasn't a disqualifying move had there not been other
> problems, but we felt it a sign he didn't take us
> seriously.

I'd wager there are more places where the converse is true.

Kondwani Mkandawire

Posts: 530
Nickname: spike
Registered: Aug, 2004

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 26, 2010 4:37 AM
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> Do you want developers who are great at making resumes, or
> great at coding?
>
> Can I write the next next idiotic Artima post on hiring?
> I'll advocate that you not hire developers if the color
> r of their interview clothes doesn't properly complement
> their eyes and complexion. I mean, just like a resume, if
> they want to show knowledge and experience they could
> research and do that, right?

About to register a company and I can tell you I won't be hiring anyone (developer/graphic designer/web designer) who dresses like a clown. I don't care if the guy has 80 years experience, has worked on a million apps. that relate to my niche market and has ties with the who's who of the corporate world. If this person cannot reflect a certain level of professionalism I don't want him involved in my company - especially as a start-up in which virtually every employee is likely to be client-facing.

Kay Schluehr

Posts: 302
Nickname: schluehk
Registered: Jan, 2005

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 26, 2010 4:53 AM
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> About to register a company and I can tell you I won't be
> hiring anyone (developer/graphic designer/web designer)
> who dresses like a clown.

Could you be a little more detailed about the dress-code of clowns? This is just too interesting.

Kondwani Mkandawire

Posts: 530
Nickname: spike
Registered: Aug, 2004

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 26, 2010 5:13 AM
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> > About to register a company and I can tell you I won't
> be
> > hiring anyone (developer/graphic designer/web designer)
> > who dresses like a clown.
>
> Could you be a little more detailed about the dress-code
> of clowns? This is just too interesting.

Lol, I din't mean this in the literal sense. Was responding specifically to Morgan's point: "...not hire developers if the color
> r of their interview clothes doesn't properly complement
> their eyes and complexion." There were hints of exaggerations and sarcasm in his statement, so I tried to use an equally extreme example in response.

What I actually meant is if I advertise a post and the candidate comes to the interview dressed in jeans and a wife beater, that interview will not last more than 10 minutes and I *will* definitely disregard all the achievements listed in his/her resume.

Kay Schluehr

Posts: 302
Nickname: schluehk
Registered: Jan, 2005

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 26, 2010 5:27 AM
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> What I actually meant is if I advertise a post and the
> candidate comes to the interview dressed in jeans and a
> wife beater, that interview will not last more than 10
> minutes and I *will* definitely disregard all the
> achievements listed in his/her resume.

Even if it is a 120$ Gucci jeans combined with a 350$ Armani jacket?

Kondwani Mkandawire

Posts: 530
Nickname: spike
Registered: Aug, 2004

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 26, 2010 6:11 AM
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> > What I actually meant is if I advertise a post and the
> > candidate comes to the interview dressed in jeans and a
> > wife beater, that interview will not last more than 10
> > minutes and I *will* definitely disregard all the
> > achievements listed in his/her resume.
>
> Even if it is a 120$ Gucci jeans combined with a 350$
> Armani jacket?

Oh, in that case... Only if he can provide a receipt that all the hip hop attire he's worn is designer - that would help him identify perfectly with our intended corporate clients. As long as the Armani jacket is actually a sports jumper and not a formal blazer. The price tag of his wife-beater in this case will also carry a lot of weight in our short-listing process :o)

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 26, 2010 9:50 AM
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> What I actually meant is if I advertise a post and the
> candidate comes to the interview dressed in jeans and a
> wife beater, that interview will not last more than 10
> minutes and I *will* definitely disregard all the
> achievements listed in his/her resume.

I'll agree with that. OTOH, the remark which started this sub-thread was specific to not wearing a tie (and suit, most likely). I've had more than a few interviews where I was the only one in the room with suit and tie. Was I being disrespected????????????????

Sean Landis

Posts: 129
Nickname: seanl
Registered: Mar, 2002

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 26, 2010 10:06 AM
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> I've had more than a few interviews where I
> was the only one in the room with suit and tie. Was I
> being disrespected????????????????

It can be very uncomfortable arriving at an interview realizing you are inappropriately dressed. I think it shows respect for a company or recruiter to tell the candidate what the dress expectations are for the interview.

Things are pretty informal where I work. We don't judge interview dress unless it is clearly inappropriate. One candidate looked like he had just driven over from a biker bar. Suits are fine but look out of place.

I will often ask a male candidate if he'd like to stow the coat and tie. Just a couple of weeks ago, one fellow ditched his tie up front when he realized the situation. If he hadn't mentioned it to me, no one would have noticed.

James Watson

Posts: 2024
Nickname: watson
Registered: Sep, 2005

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 26, 2010 10:32 AM
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It seems to me that while it's good advice to the job seeker to make your resume as well written as it can be, it isn't a good idea for employers to dismiss candidates because of a poor resume.

If you are familiar with the concept of value investing, the idea is similar: you make money off of exploiting inefficiencies in the market. The market in this case is the market for labor. In general, those candidates with ugly resumes are going to be ignored by most other employers. While most of these poor resumes are likely poor candidates, there may be a few gems in that pool. Those gems will have less opportunities and will probably be less demanding.

In other words, people who are highly skilled at finding work are not necessarily skilled in that work. A lot of people (e.g. me) detest the job search process. A smart employer will look past superficial details and try to find the best employees.

Writing a resume is tough, especially for a technical position. You have to cram enough stuff in there so that it meets the check-list of the HR staff (or software) but don't put so much that it looks silly. I used to put all the tools I've ever used in my resume (at the advice of an HR professional) and was repeatedly viewed with suspicion by my technical interviewers who didn't believe I used so many different things in such a short time span (and told me so.)

What to do? You can't get your resume in front of smart technical people without making your resume abhorrent to those same people. When I look at a resume, I'm mainly concerned with job history. No other useful information is reliably gleaned from resumes.

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 26, 2010 10:39 AM
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> In general, those candidates with
> ugly resumes are going to be ignored by most other
> employers. While most of these poor resumes are likely
> poor candidates, there may be a few gems in that pool.
> Those gems will have less opportunities and will probably
> y be less demanding.

I have, at times, taken the view that a resume should read like a documentary, and prepared mine as such. The reasoning being: I want to winnow out those companies/hirers too lazy to make an effort to read and digest who I am; after all, I'm hiring them to be my boss. I don't want to work for a bunch of lazy slackers. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. Sometimes they bullshit about what they're doing well enough to get me to say yes. That's happened less and less over time.

Sean Landis

Posts: 129
Nickname: seanl
Registered: Mar, 2002

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 26, 2010 11:06 AM
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Hi James,

> A smart
> employer will look past superficial details and try to
> find the best employees.

The question is whether the details are superficial or significant. Most often they are significant. My experience is that it is rare to find a sloppy resume that otherwise has great potential. When it comes along, the smart employer recognizes it and takes a chance so as the leverage the situation you describe.

Anyway, I am not saying discount a candidate on a sloppy resume alone. Sloppiness is nearly always accompanied by other problems.

> What to do? You can't get your resume in front of smart
> technical people without making your resume abhorrent to
> those same people. When I look at a resume, I'm mainly
> concerned with job history.

It is not a given that providing the HR/software the required buzzwords necessitates a sloppy resume.

I would say that if technical interviewers are offended by the buzzword section, they don't understand their job. That said, there are good and bad ways to write the buzzword section.

I'm not necessarily recommending this, but one clever resume had a section titled Keywords with a note saying something like, "This is the section of the resume required to get through filtering software."

> No other useful information
> is reliably gleaned from resumes.

Job history is definitely most important but I would never say there isn't useful information in the other parts of the resume. There nearly always is, although often not what the candidate intended. No information in a resume, including the job history, can be called reliable. At best it is lossy, at worse, it is a lie.

James Watson

Posts: 2024
Nickname: watson
Registered: Sep, 2005

Re: Are Sloppy Résumés OK? Posted: Jul 26, 2010 12:33 PM
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> Hi James,
>
> > A smart
> > employer will look past superficial details and try to
> > find the best employees.
>
> The question is whether the details are superficial or
> significant. Most often they are significant. My
> experience is that it is rare to find a sloppy resume that
> otherwise has great potential. When it comes along, the
> smart employer recognizes it and takes a chance so as the
> leverage the situation you describe.
>
> Anyway, I am not saying discount a candidate on a sloppy
> resume alone. Sloppiness is nearly always accompanied by
> other problems.

I guess it kind of depends on what you mean by sloppy. I've seen a lot of terrible looking resumes (too long, too short, odd structure) that were otherwise clean.

I was looking at my own resume recently and noticed that I had trailed off in my objective statement. I'm not sure if I sent it out like that but it's possible. The thing is that I'm prone to make those kinds of errors. I've developed processed and systems that I use to (almost always) guarantee that those kinds of errors will be caught in my technical tasks. I haven't done the same for my resume writing process. I suppose I could but I'd just rather do something more intellectually stimulating.

If you are looking for a very pedantic person who never makes errors, then maybe your process is the right one. I personally just think that resumes are mostly worthless other than getting an idea of whether the person claims to have the kind of background needed so that we don't waste more time than necessary talking to unqualified candidates.

Flat View: This topic has 44 replies on 3 pages [ « | 1  2  3 | » ]
Topic: What's New in Scala 2.8: Named and Default Parameters Previous Topic   Next Topic Topic: Ten Ways to Screw Up an On-Site Interview


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