Leadership

Make it or fake it: Why your IT resume writer needs IT experience

IT resume expert Jennifer Hay illustrates why, if you outsource your resume creation, it is important to find someone with an IT background.

Let me get right to the point. The below achievement statement written for an IT Director is bloated with non-relevant information, it’s dreadfully long and far too dense for what’s it’s trying to say, and it emphases the wrong part of the achievement. But it is a perfect opportunity to illustrate the difference between a resume written by someone with experience in IT and one who lacks that experience.

Drove the development of a software project integrating a geographically dispersed development team to reduce cost. Launched a fresh approach to leverage existing staff and co-located development efforts by introducing daily SCRUM meetings and a SharePoint Portal workspace detailing all communications, tasks, issues and meeting minutes. Delivered project on-time and successfully led a co-located development team by instilling team member ownership, leveraging tools that enabled collaboration and establishing policies that guided team.

In this blog, I’ll examine the problems with each part of this statement and then develop a shorter and more concise description that does a better job of highlighting the client’s achievements.

Software project: We never learn what project the senior IT manager was working on. Describing the project, even briefly, might make it easier to understand why SCRUM was selected. A geographically dispersed development team: Too wordy, reduce to ‘remote development team’ because the phrase is commonly understood and used. To reduce cost: Very weak. Remember that the job of IT is to continuously refine processes, enhance functionality, and reduce costs. Launched a fresh approach: SCRUM is not a fresh approach; it has been around for more than 20 years. This was taken from the resume of a former software developer so he should be thoroughly familiar with SCRUM and other agile methods. Co-located development efforts It was already been stated that the team was remote so why is this repeatedly mentioned? It’s not even a significant part of the achievement. Daily SCRUM meetings: I know this is nitpicking but all SCRUM meetings are daily, its part of the development process. Detailing all communications, tasks, issues and meeting minutes: Too much detail to include, people already know how SharePoint is used. I understand that sometimes you need to provide detail so it appeals to HR and IT hiring managers but this is overdone. Leveraging tool and leveraging existing staff: The word “leverage” is used twice in this one achievement and, in one case, it’s used incorrectly. “Leverage” is about exerting influence in cause-effect chains to gain some advantage and meet goals. It is not about tools. Tools that enabled collaboration: Too wordy, reduce to "collaborative tool." Instilling team member ownership: This is a confusing statement because it’s thrown in at the end of the bullet item and isn’t connected to anything else. Establishing policies that guided team: Every team needs policies so why is this significant? Is this supposed to be connected with the SCRUM methodology? Before: Drove the development of a software project integrating a geographically dispersed development team to reduce cost. Launched a fresh approach to leverage existing staff and co-located development efforts by introducing daily SCRUM meetings and a SharePoint Portal workspace detailing all communications, tasks, issues and meeting minutes. Delivered project on-time and successfully led a co-located development team by instilling team member ownership, leveraging tools that enabled collaboration and establishing policies that guided team. After:
  • Introduced SCRUM to newly formed remote team accelerating delivery of a project that was struggling with elusive requirements and poor communications between team, project manager, and client.
  • Utilized SharePoint collaborative workspace for development team to analyze constant client feedback.
  • Led team to deliver project on time, keeping people accountable and the process transparent. Gained team commitment to and confidence in producing workable features in rapid development cycles.

    Here is my reasoning for each bullet item, keeping in mind that everything within an achievement statement should connect and flow, as much as is possible in the condensed format of a resume.

    1. The primary bullet item describes a project that would be an ideal candidate for SCRUM so it makes perfect sense that this methodology was selected.
    2. Many teams use SharePoint to collaborate and share information but in this case, it’s a great choice for remote SCRUM teams that are constantly gathering and evaluating client feedback. All IT projects need collaborative teams so this isn’t particularly significant unless you understand the reason.
    3. In the final bullet item, I’ve connected why it was important to "instill team member ownership" with the methodology that was selected.

    Jennifer Hay of IT Resume Service is the world’s first nationwide certified resume writer for information technology (CRS+IT). You can find her innovative resumes with career branding images published in Expert Resumes for Computer and Web Jobs, Resumes that Pop! - Designs that Reflect Your Personal Brand, and Expert Resumes for Managers and Executives.

    25 comments
    Jenniferhay
    Jenniferhay

    When HR relies on Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to select applicants, they become an order-taking service that can be easily replaced. For HR, it???s comforting to use ATS because you can easily demonstrate that the resumes contain, at least, the key words and phrases. It???s hard for the business to know that a great candidate was overlooked because HR didn???t do its job.

    shane van
    shane van

    It's for the position of an IT manager. The person reading the resume will be HR, possibly the person being replaced, and other managers. If it was for an IT pleb, then it would be read by the IT manager and technical content would count more. So I agree that technical content should be tuned way down, and the focus is on achievements. More importantly, the focus is on achievements for the business, not technical achievements. To me the key points this guy wants to get across in the first paragraph is that he has experience with coordinating distributed teams, implementing scrum (because this is likely to be one of the few buzz words on the HR wish list), and has worked in a large organisation (name drop). Buried down on the second or third page in some list of technical experience would be the list of technologies. The heading "technical experience" should be enough for the reader to glaze over it and think "yes, he has experience". The purpose of a resume is to get past stage one and into an actual meeting. So an easy to read page one, with feel good statements is the way to go. Except if you know exactly what you are going for and the ad listed the technical requirements being sought. Then you drop the buzz words onto page one to make it easier for the technical illiterate HR person to tick the boxes on their sheet. And back to the original topic, I hate the resumes where someone has dropped every technology they could find onto their resume to impress the reader. A technically competent resume writer would spot this for what it is and cut it down to a more realistic list of achievements. Or burn it.

    RMSx32767
    RMSx32767

    I'll bet the staff appreciated that use of time.

    steamIngenious
    steamIngenious

    What a waste of time. This whole article was bunk. It was poorly written and contained little to no useable information. Weak when you consider it was written by someone who does exactly this for a living.

    spawnywhippet
    spawnywhippet

    An IT Director wrote that? I wouldn't hire an intern with such poor communication skills. Also the description of what he was doing seems very basic for such a high powered title. I was doing similar level things when only 3 years out of university. I am guessing this 'IT Director' graduated in Mumbai?

    ernman111
    ernman111

    gee, maybe i missed that course at Harvard....couldn't find any "IT resume writing certification courses anywhere...really???

    thomasjbs
    thomasjbs

    What are you trying to say in this article? That the resume writer doesn't have IT experience or that that he doesn't know how to express it? This is a typical user-response to an IT catch-22: No matter how the author (resume writer) tries to address the problem, the variety of the audience, from non-technically-interested mangement to non-educated employees, nitpick the words. If we use technical words and ideas to automate and streamline, the response is: it's "too simplistic" (because they don't understand the context). If we try to describe the detail, our design "is too complex". If we try to implement user simplicity, 'it's too expensive'. Perhaps SCRUM was a fresh approach to *his* former company. Or perhaps you are exactly correct in this example and didn't adequately communicate that. Who will be *filtering* his resume, by the way? An IT expert who is hiring another IT expert, or an HR person with minimal IT experience and simplistic hiring directives (from the non-technical CEO)?

    Jenniferhay
    Jenniferhay

    It's not possible to connect everything an IT professional has done to business value. I've seen people make broad reaches to connect their achievement with the value it provided the business. This makes the statement artificial and disjointed. What is wrong with describing how the achievement helped the technical team or environment? Who came up with the idea that everything has to directly benefit the business?

    Tony Hopkinson
    Tony Hopkinson

    It's to get past the word search before anyone does read it. In my experience they don't any way. If they were I wouldn't get offered junior dev roles, have my JavaScript skills confused with my non-existent Java ones, or get offered the chnace to maintain military vehicles in Syria, or... Your stage one is in fact stage two, may be even three...

    Jenniferhay
    Jenniferhay

    To be successful, SCRUM requires daily meetings (typically 15 minutes.) It's a very focused use of time and without this connection the self-directed teams would quickly get off track.

    Jenniferhay
    Jenniferhay

    I agree, that is another very good point. This guy was an IT Director in a large company so higher level achievements should have been included. The resume writer added this on the first page as a major achievement. I was simply working with the information I had.

    Jenniferhay
    Jenniferhay

    It was written by a certified resume writer who doesn't know anything about IT.

    NickNielsen
    NickNielsen

    It was "written for an IT Director", not by.

    Jenniferhay
    Jenniferhay

    There aren't any in-depth courses for learning how to write IT resumes. Common sense, good communication skills, board knowledge of IT, and great resources are required.

    Jenniferhay
    Jenniferhay

    I'm actually saying both. This resume writer didn't understand IT and was inclined to read or learn more. The truth of his guy's story was that he worked for an American car manufacturer. It's sad to note that Toyota has successfully used SCRUM for years, while it was supposedly a new approach to this American manufacturer. I would have had a discussion with the client as to whether mentioning SCRUM provided any value.

    NickNielsen
    NickNielsen

    I suspect the filtering will be done, if not at the C-level, at least in one of the corner offices.

    Tony Hopkinson
    Tony Hopkinson

    You know those fools who pay us money to play around with interesting tech. It's pretty unreasonable of them admittledly, but they may, I say may just have a point.

    shane van
    shane van

    It's for the position of IT Director. When I was younger (oh so much younger than today) I had the technically bloated, list every skill under the sun, I am desperate resume. But after having my time wasted (and wasting others time) going in for interviews that I wasn't particularly skilled or interested in, I cut my resume back to what I wanted to do. But then I was taught the next extension to that, you write your resume for the role that you want. So I have my manager resume, consultant resume, and engineer resume. But if you do want to pass the key word search, then drop them into page 3 on the resume. No-one will read it, but it will be found. As for not being able to "connect everything an IT professional has done to business value", that just highlights why IT professionals aren't sales professionals. If providing the infrastructure that allows a business to reliably and efficiently operate isn't of business value, then not much is. Google even acknowledges that allowing their employees spare time to do whatever is potentially beneficial to the company. Many companies acknowledge that a gym or basketball court improves the business. So business value could be a little vague, but it really is just a matter of making the things we do matter to the people making the decisions. Having said that, I can't work out why some companies implement certain systems (oh, the temptation to name names). So Jennifer may be right - there are some monumental stuff ups that just shouldn't go on a resume.

    RMSx32767
    RMSx32767

    I understand the meetings are part of the process/method; I have simply seen too many well intentioned daily meetings soon become more of a hindrance than a help; perhaps the leader was the problem, not the method.

    Professor8
    Professor8

    Most of the filtering seems to being done at the lowest level, by people who never had a clue about the "IT" field. They have been given a very few buzz-words that they do not understand, and, of course, they've never seen the many other buzz-words, which may or may not be equivalent. These days the vast majority of resumes never rise to the level of the hiring manager's HR contact, let alone to the actual hiring manager. The low-level front-line people see their primary job as getting resumes they can mindlessly stuff through the shredd, er, uh, parser to the data-base of the "candidate management system". The same applies, of course, to the resumes which are redirected to the firm's immigration attorneys or to a "staffing agency". Even in better times, it was not all that rare for even the experienced head of an "IT" employment agency to be clueless about most of the terms in use in the many different niches of the field (and the trickier, broader knowledge of equivalents and more generic terms as well as terms which had significantly different meanings). (I'm thinking Robert Half-W*t, in particular, but, based on his outfits' columns and materials, he's a knowledgeable, conscientious genius compared to the current bunch.) Today, you'd have better odds of getting appropriate work in line with your knowledge, skills, and experience in a STEM field by going through a cook in the company cafeteria or the janitor, even if neither of them understands or speaks American English, simply because, having promised them an appropriate bonus for brokering the deal, they'd be far more conscientious than the vast majority of today's HR clones.

    NickNielsen
    NickNielsen

    The leader is the problem, not the method.

    Professor8
    Professor8

    Yes, even "Directors". Happens all the time. Even CEO's (including university presidents and provosts and chancellors) now that so many are using "consulting services" to recruit. It wouldn't matter, now, whether it was an HR "worker bee" or the head of HR, or the ones with all of the certifications. The incompetency fad has taken over the whole field. I can't think of many businesses, these days, with competent management. Period. Apple is about it, maybe John Huntsman's chemical company, though I'm not so sure. Certainly not HP, Google, FB, Yahoo!, WM, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Grumman, GE, Bank of India, Andersen/Accenture, McKinsey, Ceridian, Vignette, Siemens, SAP, Oracle/Sun with the nutty things they've been doing and advising other executives to do, e.g. abandoning core competency, massive investment in privacy violation schemes, recruiting people based on criteria other than being able and willing to do the job for which we're recruiting each one, producing cheap trash instead of maximizing the quality/price ratio... Even old stalwarts like P&G have been very flakey over the last decade. ill-Begotten Montrosities execs, since at least the mid-1930s, were always working evil schemes. That would be a great column -- 2 lists: honest executives, and competent executives, and then back each item up with a list of positives and negatives.

    NickNielsen
    NickNielsen

    advertising for a "Director of ..." position, then allowing the worker bees in HR to perform the initial resume screening. Let me rephrase that...I can't imagine any business with [u]competent management[/u] advertising for a "Director of ..." position, then allowing the worker bees in HR to perform the initial resume screening.

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