Reviewing resumes

I’m in the interesting and enviable position of having an open (entry-ish level) position on my team, here at EMC.  Over the years I’ve brought a few people into the company, either directly or indirectly.  But it’s been a while, and it’s interesting to see the state of the hiring process … and the people trying to get hired.

When I was looking for my first industry job, putting your email address on your resume meant something about how tech-savvy you were (I get it — I’m old).  Now, I attach that same significance to a social media link.  Not many of my entry-level applicants have those.  A few have LinkedIn profiles, but none of them have personal blog URLs, Twitter IDs, or other social networking information.  This doesn’t surprise me much … social media is a bit of a polarizing issue.  I can certainly imagine some hiring managers seeing a twitter ID and assuming certain unpleasant things about the applicant. I wonder what guidance new graduates are getting these days on the issue beyond the obvious?

I have been surprised to see more resumes having intern or co-op experience, which was rare when I was graduating.  I’m pretty sure my first resume had my Kelly Services data entry job on it, so yes, I’m impressed by your stint at the big company down the road … no matter how banal the tasks may have been, I’m sure you learned some lessons that you won’t have to repeat wherever you land your first full-time position.

I still see applicants who list every type of technology under expertise, and then have no way of explaining it in the rest of the resume.  I appreciate you listing every microchip whose machine code you’re proficient in, but since none of your listed academic or professional projects have used that, I’m going to assume it’s either a hobby or a class you took and have since forgotten.  Other folks seem to just empty the buzzword bingo slide onto their resume — after the first couple programming languages and database vendors you list, they all start to blend together.  I assume you can handle an IDE; I don’t need to see a list of seven of them.

I’m sure it’s challenging to write a resume as a new graudate.  You have very little with which to differentiate yourself from your peers.  I’m always excited to see a good description of a large academic project, especially one where peers cooperated and achieved something beyond any individual’s reach.  But if your resume is 5 pages long and you’ve only been out of school a year, we may have different expectations about what this document is supposed to do.

Speaking of which, I am surprised at the number of people who haven’t taken the step of getting some assistance with proof-reading their resumes.  I recognize that people have varying degrees of comfort with the written word, and a resume is so unlike “real” writing that it’s hard to infer much from one, but blatant errors still surprise me.  I want to remember your resume for the right reasons, not because you’re the only one who didn’t run a spell check.

Overall, I am excited to be seeing so much interest in the position, and looking forward to bringing a new person into the team.  Hopefully soon I’ll be writing about how great it is to interview so many bright and passionate applicants who so clearly have the potential to be excellent engineers….

(on a side note, it was difficult to choose how to spell resume.  In the end, I went with simplicity.  Feel free to review the usage notes on the wiktionary page and then come scold me.)

3 comments ↓

#1 Matthew Brender on 07.13.10 at 6:54 pm

David, your empathy for recent grads is sincerely appreciated. I ask but one favor: take pity on how much you presume from the resume.

I was in a similar position just two years ago.

I graduated with a degree in Computer Science and received no useful assistance with writing a technical resume. Student Services often lack the background to assist tech-savvy grads. It is only by the grace of my brother-in-law (who worked for Semantic at the time) that I found out I needed to start from scratch if I was ever going to get the chance to prove myself in an interview.

So yes, I agree that resumes should be well proofread, but if you get a hunch that this person has more substance to them than the resume may highlight, don’t be shy about giving them a call.

Also, what position are you looking to fill in the Navisphere space? I would love the opportunity to help recruit the right resources from the folks I know around the CSS space or my friends who are still on the market.

In regards to the Social Networking scene, I was instilled with a shear terror of being snooped on via Facebook and the such when job hunting. You may find that people deactivate their accounts during job hunting season. Or the common practice of using pseudonyms to protect yourself could be in use. I am still struggling to decide how unified of a person I want to show on the internet. I would enjoy reading further thoughts on the matter if you get the time.

Thank you for our article and it is always nice to read a fellow EMC employee’s thoughts.

Matthew

#2 Dave on 07.13.10 at 7:19 pm

Thanks for the comment Matthew — and you make some great points. I was trying to decide whether to keep the post light-hearted or serious, and kind of walked the line a bit between serious advice and a couple chuckles.

It’s incredible difficult to turn your entire life into a single page of paper. You’re asking people who have no business experience to take on the difficult task of writing a concise yet attractive piece of business writing. Asking people with no industry experience to second-guess what someone in the industry wants to see.

For people who have been reading resumes for a decade, it’s easy to overlook those facts. But I think we’ve all interviewed superstars with lackluster resumes, and vice-versa.

The question of your business and personal identities, and how to merge them and/or keep them separate, is not trivial. I think it’s getting interesting, and is only going to get more interesting, as we keep moving forward. It’s definitely a topic I’ll revisit on the blog. I’ve written a few times about it, but not recently, and my own behaviors have definitely shifted in the past year or so….

As for the opportunity — I’m actually not looking in the Navisphere space — I haven’t been on that team in going on a decade now :). If you want to see the formal job description just head into the EMC job database and search for position 55805BR. I apologize for the awful formatting (unforgivable when I complain about resume proofreading, right?); it looked great when I wrote it up but somewhere in the translation it got a bit mangled….

#3 Natalie Corridan-Gregg on 07.14.10 at 6:32 am

Dave,

I can empathize! I have filled 3 positions this year and have more in my future. I agonized over some of the same topics. For example, I wanted to see a TwitterID and LinkedIn but did not feel right about eliminating a candidate because of a lack of those things.
My co-worker has an entry level position open and the sorting through the resumes is really tough. It is hard to determine potential without relevant experience. However, if they had experience they would not be right for the entry level position. Quite a puzzle.

As always, enjoyed your perspective!