Blogs about development
A resume is a marketing document. Its job is to get you a phone screen or interview. During that interview, the resume can guide the conversation. Each bullet point should be able to start a story which demonstrates the specific ways in which you are awesome.
When I was unemployed a number of years ago, I learned a lot about resume writing from books, articles, and especially the career counselor that I saw. Because of this, I've offered to review friends' resumes. After a few rounds of this, I've put together the common pieces of feedback that I've shared:
Instead of listing technical skills, acronyms and tools in bullet points or a keywords section at the bottom of the resume, include that thing within context of a position. This is a much stronger way to demonstrate your abilities. Something like these, for example:
This method also gives you the opportunity to demonstrate what business problem you solved. (A job is all about solving the business' problem.)
- Used Unix shell commands and bash scripts to concatenate complex reporting data
- Developed VB scripts to automate tedious Excel data transformations.
- Always send a .pdf resume. It will be most consistent visually, and a shady recruiter won't be able to swap their own contact information in place of yours like they can on a Word doc. Name the file "Your Name Resume.pdf" so that it's easy for the recruiter to find.
- School, military, and even minimum-wage work can belong on resumes when it demonstrates experience related to the position you're applying for. Be specific about what the school projects encompassed, and if it's really old you can remove the dates. Leadership, troubleshooting and mentoring are always valuable.
- Instead of listing your address, list just the city and state that you're seeking work in. Recruiters might judge your neighborhood and / or commute negatively.
- Your most recent work will tend to be the most important, yet least fleshed out. A good source of material for these can be looking through your annual reviews, or coffee with coworkers.
- Your resume can be one, or more commonly, two pages. Keep it to under two unless you're sure that they're looking for more.
- Always have someone else review your resume for typos.
Have you been thinking about contributing to open source projects, but didn't know where to start? Here are a few ways to get started. find projects which are actively welcoming new contributors by highlighting their "starter" issues - bugs which are small in scope or otherwise make a good introduction to the project.
A while ago, I interviewed for a job with a company that I was absolutely in-love with. I'd been excited to see that they were looking for a front-end developer and I applied right away.
Back to the interview, we'd gone though a few basic questions and the interviewer had moved on to the algorithm questions. It was a little more complicated than Fizz Buzz, but it wasn't too tricky. But I flailed around for a while trying to both understand what the interviewer was asking, as well as trying to logic out the solution. I didn't solve the algorithm easily enough, and I didn't get any further in the interview process.
Why evaluate a front-end developer based on a algorithm? It's such a very small part of the job, and especially over a video conference after a full day of work, and it's the wrong test to get the front-end developer to demonstrate their best. It's like evaluating an NFL kicker based on their tackling skills - sure, they need to do it sometimes, but a proper blocker will always be more skilled at tackles.
I thought that I would share the story of how I "broke" into development. This was some number of years ago, and naturally what worked for me may not work for you.
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After many years, the call center job was further outsourced to Canada. By this time, I had just completed an 2 year community college degree (and a 1 year certificate in "electronic commerce"), so I figured I was ready to pursue web developer as a career. This coursework had included an assignment to "make a website", so I took care of the whole gamut of webmaster duties for a friend. My unemployment benefits included community college tuition for retraining, which I used to take a whirlwind PHP / MySQL development class. Then I applied for local web development jobs. I'd also picked up a second "client" - a local non-profit organization which needed a webmaster to put their affairs in order and make occasional updates.
Six months later, my unemployment benefits had run out, and I wasn't working as a developer. Though I had built my very own PHP and duct-tape blog system. So I took another tech support job. This one was a the corporate headquarters for local video rental chain. (I told you this was a long time ago.) After several months of learning the business through tech support, one of the other groups at headquarters posted an opening for a web developer. They needed another developer to help build intranet reports for the retail store managers to detect theft. Since I had experience with the business and doing web development, I got that job and became a professional web developer. After a year or so doing that, I got another full-time development job, and that's what I've been doing ever since.
Let's examine the job prospects of one of my hobbies - glassblowing. Blowing glass is tough work. Even in Seattle's winters, it's hot sweaty work. It's a full shift of physical activity, requiring both heavy lifting and repetitive controlled movement. Glassblowing has a high degree of difficulty, and success depends on good teamwork and timing.
It's common for beginning glassblowers to pay to take classes, and for folks looking to get a foot in the door to intern for free or very cheaply before scoring paid work at the journeyman level. Most paid glassblowing work is done as independent contractor, with no guarantee of work or benefits.
Entry- to mid-level glassblowing work is competitive; there are always more glassblowers with free time than there are open spaces in shops. Within a glassblowing team, the successful entrant will be enthusiastic and attentive to the needs of the rest of the team. A production glassblower doesn't have off-hours work like responding to customer emails or preparing a sales report. But they commonly spend free time improving their skills by taking classes or doing independent work.
Seattle is a great city to be a glassblower. There is a multitude of schools and small studios which offer classes. There are also multiple production facilities which can be counted on to need a comparatively steady supply of glassworkers such as Glassybaby and Glass Eye Studios. Olympic Color Rods hosts a board with postings for jobs and equipment.
Glassblowing is a rock-star occupation. Very few glassblowers will become wealthy or famous like Chihuly or Marioni. Many glassblowers own and operate a studio (which is full of money-hungry equipment) as well as store to sell pieces, which means they are managing a small business in addition to making art.
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