Enterprise Software

Resume makeover number two

We're back with another resume makeover from resume expert Jennifer Hay. This time we tackle the resume for a support pro.

We have the results from the second resume makeover Jennifer Hay of Information Technology Resume Service and IT Resume Expert did for us.

As usual, we have changed all the identifying information on the resume for the benefit of the person who submitted it. We will display specific areas that Jennifer addressed and show her analysis and explanations for what was changed. We also have the Before and After versions of the resume available for download.

The original resume started off like this:

Jennifer's analysis:

  1. John had his name and contact information in the header on the first page of his resume. Since most Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are not able to parse information from the header, it meant that his resume would be loaded without his name and contact information. Even if the reader didn't use an ATS system he was still at a disadvantage because they wouldn't be able to easily copy and paste his email address. My recommendation: Don't make the reader work so hard to contact you!
  2. His resume was very typical of many resumes I see for support staff. He listed all the things that you would expect to see for someone in a support role.  Although you do want to include these on your resume, you don't want to end there. John had worked on a number of network, systems, and operational projects, so I included those under a different section to draw attention to these projects.
  3. I used John's 12/2012 performance review for the summary section. I see a lot of generic summaries that aren't unique to the individual and could relate to many people. It's difficult to capture a person's personality, strengths, and contributions in a short summary that is clear and concise. John's summary is more powerful because others have described what he does best.

This is what the resulting resume looked like:

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

22 comments
kingttx
kingttx

I'm about to relocate and haven't written a resume in over five years. One site said the "new" way to list job experience is in first-person dialogue form rather than action-verb bullet points. Is that incorrect?

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

Most of the Wikipedia article is about whether there is value to the organization for conducting assessments, with some mention about the accuracy of the comments. I think that the same perceptions that impact 360 assessments and reviews also pertain to recommendations and referrals. The study concludes that the most accurate ratings come from knowing the person long enough to get past first impressions, but not so long as to begin to generalize favorably. A summary on a resume is generally about how a person sees their professional value to the company. Note this comment from the Wikipedia article, Studies have also indicated that self-ratings are generally significantly higher than the ratings of others. What I gleaming from this study is that if you write the summary yourself you have a tendency to overrate your abilities. In my experience working with IT professionals, I find that many actually underrate their achievements so how can I take this study seriously? Jennifer Hay

g01d4
g01d4

Unless it was for an HR position. The effectiveness and accuracy of 360s are still in some dispute (see Wikipedia). References would provide the same type of information in a more suitable format and setting. You might as well put random quotes: [i]Walks on water! - John's boss in his last performance review[/i].

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

If you create an ATS that actually does a great job with technical resumes, you have a business in the making. Only about 50% of companies are using them but this will continue to grow.

pikeman666
pikeman666

I didn't realize that the scanner software didn't get header/footer text. That's pretty lame. Up until now I had used header space to contain my contact information. It made it easier to control the rest of the page layout. I guess I'll have to ditch that now.

AlexNagy
AlexNagy

Say it isn't so! I need those text boxes to get my resume onto one page, without them, the formatting would be ugly and would require a 2-page resume when it doesn't warrant a 2-page resume. Fail.

bigmac1x
bigmac1x

No matter how many resumes the ATS software reduces the pile to, when I pick up a resume the very first thing I want to know RIGHT AWAY is "What is this person going to do for me tomorrow, if I hire him today, to satisfy MY need". MY need is stated in the job posting. That "summary" section needs to be customized to tell me specifically how they are going to help me. If they don't capture my interest right away then I probably won't be reading the whole resume. The original version with a correct Objective line will get my attention faster and better than that Motherhood and Apple Pie version!

datarend
datarend

If one formats a resume using a series of text boxes, are Applicant Tracking Systems able to parse information from these text boxes? Is color in the final draft of a resume a bad or good thing? So many resumes cross my desk that are dull and bland. In fact some of them tend to send me into dreamland. I would be very interested in your recommendations for online applications where some applicants struggle to write well in allocated spaces.

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

Sorry for the late reply. First person dialogue is not the new format for resumes because it wastes space. Use first person in your LinkedIn profile.

Professor8
Professor8

"an ATS that actually does a great job with technical resumes" CMS/ATS/TMSs cannot possibly do a great job matching great candidates with great jobs. They depend too much on a limited number of key-words and on limited specific juxtapositions of terms in resumes. Even an artificial intelligence system would come up short against a competent, conscientious/thoughtful, industrious head-hunter. These blasted things are responsible for a lot (though not quite all) of the dysfunctionality in the STEM job markets, today, and should be expunged. Part of the problem is that they encourage the creation of artificial, beside the point, objectives for HR workers -- to fill up the blasted black-hole data-bases with garbage in the hopes that, statistically, it will eventually pay off with some matches and attendant commissions. As such, you might as well shred a few pages from an old encyclopedia or novel or newspaper, using a cross-cut shredder that produces little confetti pieces, let those pieces fall on a table scanner, scan them in, parse the results, and dump it into the data-base. What gets stored in the data-base, and the typical clueless/careless HR clone's search specification are not likely to turn up 99.99% of the able and willing candidates. So then the execs whine "talent shortage" ever louder while nearly 2M able and willing US citizen STEM pros remain unemployed or under-employed.

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

I haven't found a system that parses content from text boxes. Some may exist but do you want to take the chance? I do use a table for the technology profile section. I???ll only use one box and I haven???t heard about any problems. This comes down to formatting for the lowest common denominator. Use special formatting for the presentation version of your resume, but when you???re loading it into a company???s portal use a plain text version (preferred) or a Word.doc basic version. The only problem with using colored fonts is that some people don???t like them. Remember that you???re not trying to appeal to everyone and fonts can make your achievements visually stand out. Jennifer Hay

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

You know what works for you when you're looking for candidates. I appreciate that this isn't a resume that you would respond to, but I wrote it and I'd like to tell you why I really love it. John's summary is short and to the point, and in my opinion, very similar to a concise objective statement. More importantly it is immediately followed by statements from his recent performance review. Not only are these statements completely verifiable, they are statements from management on down to peers. They describe what he does best. John never considered using this valuable asset in his resume. Rather than having a generic summary that could be about anyone he has a powerful message that is only about him. Jennifer Hay

mckinnej
mckinnej

Text boxes are another no-no. Color might interfere with the OCR too, so I would consider it high risk. If someone was absolutely sure this particular copy of their resume was going to be read by a person, (like a copy they bring to an interview), then color and nice formatting would be okay. Up until that point I would stick with plan-Jane so you won't get passed by due to the technology used to filter candidates. Better safe than pretty.

bigmac1x
bigmac1x

"...why I really love it." - and there lies the problem. A productive resume is about results - NOT whether YOU like it or not. It is the person on the hiring side of the desk that has to like it, get a sense of value about this person and know they are going to be an asset to their company! Also, your revision has gone from one that had a nice balance of black and white (inviting to read) to one that looks like the obituary page in the newsapaper. There's far too much black. And, the statement "...Technical Support Representative..." is pidgeon-holing this individual. What you're saying is "...this is ALL I'm qualifed to do...". By doing this you take away the possibility of a hiring Manager from considering this person for other related positions within the company. In fact if a Manager didn't have a "Technical Support Representative" position available (or it's been filled already) he may stop reading at the very first line. "7 years experience". I can see that from the work experience. This is a duplication of information and a waste of space. "self-motivated", "adapting", etc. No different than what everyone else is saying. He's not differentiating himself from the rest of the resumes. You're wasting more space with these Motherhood and Apple Pie statements. Too bad you didn't include more of your "resulting resume". From the looks of the first few lines in the Professional Experience section it looks like you are going to make the same mistake I see on 99.9% of all resumes. People tell me a lot about what they did in a job. But nowhere do they tell me what they accomplished. Especially when they can quantify it with a number. Accomplishment based statements with a $xxxx savings or a xx% improvement jump off the page because the numbers are different from all the text around them. I hate being SO critical but you are SO off base as to what an HR person reviewing resumes wants to see in as little as 10 seconds per resume. Any good resume writer HAS to put themselves in the shoes of the HR person to understand what they want to see and in what order to make a decision ASAP whether to forward that resume upstairs or put it in the recycling bin. Surveys indicate an HR person, by the time they are 2/3 to 3/4 of the way down the first page of a resume, have already decided - blue bin or upstairs!

Professor8
Professor8

So, to thwart the evil accursed TMS/CMS/AMS/ATS, one can 1. make your whole resume be a "heading", or better, 2. use lots of small, nested boxes of text, so that your information is well organized and complies with the magic number 7 + or - 2 principle that people can only handle a few distinct bits of info at a time 3(a). use lots of colors; try to pick out colors that the scanners have the most trouble grabbing and/or 3(b). use a variant of CAPTCHA so that conscientious humans can read your resumes but the defective AMS/ATS/CMS/TMS cannot 3(c). mix it up, with some of the CAPTCHA distractor materials in the same color as your text, or, looked at the other way, your vari-colored text the same as the distracting matter. Those are pretty good tips! This is the most positive news I've seen in the STEM fields in a long time. We can, indeed, outwit these stupid candidate/talent/applicant manglement systems and have the possibility of reaching a conscientious human being. Better be safe than have your career sent directly to the black hole. And "2nd largest gizmo maker" sounds soooo impressive. Why don't they just make their gizmos bigger and take the number 1 slot? But how did John break into the CFO's office to grab such info that is usually kept safely away from STEM workers for fear that they might, like congress-critters, engage in more skillful insider trading than the company execs? Supported 200 users? So, he couldn't get a real job? He's doing an internship at a mom and pop outfit? At the local franchise group of a burger chain? C'mon! (Or are all 200 of them B-school frat-boys who need constant supervision to make sure they don't drool into their computers, break the wi-fi antennae or yank the cables? If that's the case, my condolences to the mythical JS, and best wishes on finding a real job.)

Jenniferhay
Jenniferhay

1) If you dont tell people upfront what type of job interests you then you are leaving it to the reader to make that decision. A generic resume that will fit any type of job that comes along is a waste of time. 2) In the first sentence of his guys resume I identified that he has 7 years of experience in Field Support, Network Administration, and System Administration. This is valuable experience for someone in a technical support role. Yes, someone could read through the resume and figure that out but when is the last time you actually met someone who had the time to do that? 3) Tech Republic didnt print the whole resume. These look like solid achievements to me. Special Network, Systems, and Operations Projects: > Replaced legacy phone system, with zero impacts to employee productivity. Worked collaboratively with manager over 8 weekends (300 man hours) to wire entire phone system from the ground up. o Saved $10K by eliminating the need for an IT consultant. o Installed Windows 2003 Server based phone system. Administered in-house and telecommuters phone system. > Migrated 500+ users to new domains as part of 2 corporate acquisitions. Set up users with a Citrix client to conform to company standards. Provided training classes for new SAP and Citrix users. > Worked as part of team to consolidate IT related assets into SAPs service parts management system. Inventoried and tagged equipment. Wrote Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for maintaining system. > Selected as regions best tech to set up 100+ employees in new headquarters in another state, after company was acquired by one of the largest beef companies in the world. > Quickly completed 130 upgrades to Microsoft 2010 Office Standard within 10 days to stay compliant with licensing agreement.

Cheylynn
Cheylynn

I just wanted to say that I really like what you have to say about the resume's and how they are looked at. Almost makes me want to send you mine for your technical opinion. You make really good points and I'm going to go back to my resume and see what I can do to incorporate or change it. I think I will use a few of my HR contacts to peruse it and see what they say. The biggest problem I have with that is that most of those contacts are where I work currently and I'm actively seeking employment elsewhere. I love my job, I just want to move away from the area I am in. Long distance job search seems to be a lot more difficult to accomplish.

Professor8
Professor8

If the HR-clone is incapable of reading a resume and connecting me with the appropriate hiring managers, then good riddance to him. I'd much rather work with someone who is competent and willing to engage in a reasonable investment of conscientious, thoughtful, personal effort rather than playing monkey at a key-board and hoping to be lavishly rewarded. The best head-hunters don't use resumes at all. They are capable of reading a less structured sketch of aspirations, knowledge and experience; of extracting relevant information from simply conversing with candidates; and they understand the field well enough to broker the best connections. They actually know their candidates and their hiring managers. They don't waste their time and ours on filling up data-bases with irrelevant mangled garbage. (The job ad search sites have the same flaw. "Congratulations, you're studies and career in software product development -- your search specification including Objective-C, OS X or iOS -- make you a great candidate to become a grain elevator operator, neuro-surgeon, barge deck-hand, nurse, or cross-country trucker." Gimme a break!) The resumes presented were clearly intended to be models of a middling competent STEM worker. Both the "before" and "after" resumes had short-comings, both in the specific nature of the writing, in the contents (the "skills" of the fictional job-seeker). They were not realistic. Of course, one must allow for the widely varied niches in our field, and for the fact that each general set of niches requires tailoring of format and content accordingly. Even within a single tech firm, trying to come up with job descriptions (e.g. for purposes of pay grade standardization) which are realistic is not simple, and nowhere near as simple as the naive B-school bozos tend to believe. Such columns cannot easily show that, or they'd run to telephone book length. But, c'mon; where's the beef? Where are the hard-core resumes for hardware engineers, software architects and such? But the worst flaw is the presumption that we should cater to incompetent HR clones.

Player_16
Player_16

CAPTCHA - Colours? Nested boxes? Magic numbers? What the hell are you on about? I just want to be employed by a reputable company. A well presented, laid-out resume in good-ol' black-n-white, legible text stating my criteria is all that's needed. If I was in a HR position and noticed all that guff, it would be in the rubbish bin so fast... it wouldn't touch my desk.

JJMach
JJMach

The sad reality is, if you want to thwart the resume scanner, feel free, but most likely, the only person you'll outwit is yourself as the hapless HR person round-files your resume when it fails to scan. I appreciate any recommendations that Toni is willing to serve up to make my resume as readable as possible for both machine and human. I may not like the reality, but at the moment I am not able to change it. If you want to cut off your nose to spite your face in the interest of trying to change the system, go ahead. I'm sure everyone else you may compete with for a job will appreciate your taking yourself out of the running. The rest of your ad-hominem attacks on the resume's contents help me discount your comment, as you might have taken a breather from your self-satisfaction to realize that some of the details were altered to protect the innocent.

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