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Blogs about job-search

Common Resume Feedback.

6.23.2017

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:

Interviewing a Front-End Developer.

7.28.2016

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.

A front-end developer is a highly specialized skill set, and it's pretty different than the skill sets of other types of developers. An experienced front-end developer (I've been doing this for 10 years) is deeply familiar with current HTML, CSS, JavaScript, as well as current browser support and debugging techniques. I know about image compression and optimization, accessibility, content management systems, and even a little about design and SEO. It's a role akin to the kicker or keeper on a football team.

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.

How I Got Started As A Developer.

7.15.2015

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.

Long long ago, I was working at a tech support call center. I had a headset, call routing system, and few internal web-based knowledgebases to search through for answers. This job suited me because I already had the secret pre-requisite amount of computer knowledge (having built machines for myself and others), and it was fairly high-paying work. As I earned experience in the job, other folks came to me for help with their calls. This got awkward when I was also on a call. So I re-purposed an extra computer under my neighbor's cubicle into an IIS intranet server to host a "for us, by us" kind of knowlegebase. I learned basic HTML and JavaScript; and the kind of CSS where you can change an <h1>'s color with inline style attributes!

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.

Other Skills.

7.5.2015

Everyone has some skills beyond those that go on your resume. Here are some of mine:

Epic Recruiter Fail.

3.17.2015

Some time last year, I recieved the following email from a recruiter. This was entirely out of the blue; we didn't have any previous contact. Normally I would have deleted the email and that would have been the end of it. But this recruiter had sent their form letter to over 200 email addresses, and used the CC field instead of BCC. Presented here are the reply all responses that people sent. (I have removed the names and scrubbed the language from this exchange.)


Title: PHP Specialist

From: John Doe

To: [blank]

CC: [200 person mailing list]

Date: May 20

Hello,

I found your resume in our database, while I was searching for PHP Specialist in the greater Seattle area. This is a very unique and they are looking for someone who can jump in and make a difference right away. I would love to tell you more about this position, if it is something you would be interested in. I don't know if you are working right now or not, but we are moving very quickly on this opportunity. If you are interested please send me a revised resume, the one I have is old..

Also, if you are not interested in this opportunity I would suggest connecting with me on LinkedIn because I add positions there all the time.

www.linkedin.com/john-doe

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

John Doe
Technical Recruiter
LinkedIn URL
Company Website URL
Mobile: (999) 123-1234
Office: (999) 123-1234


From: Annoyed Prospect #1

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

I don't live in WA and I'm not a PHP specialist. The one experience I had of contracting through [your company] was the worst in my life. I will never work with you again. Thanks for flashing my email to your spam list. Please don't ever contact me again.


From: Annoyed Prospect #2

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Same boat as Annoyed Prospect #1, you should be ashamed of your tactics. Please add me to your Do Not Contact Ever list.


From: Annoyed Prospect #3

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Wow look at that. Another one. Get the **** off out before I blacklist you with the PHP community. You are an under experienced idiot who has no idea how to do his own job. Just quit and find a new profession like food service.


From: Annoyed Prospect #4

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

And they don't have enough sense to use BCC instead of CC.

Hi everybody. Hope you're amused by this scum!


From: Annoyed Prospect #5

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

I don't live WA either. please remove my email from your list.


From: Annoyed Prospect #6

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Everyone quick, grab a pitchfork!


From: Annoyed Prospect #7

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Wow, there's a PHP "community?" Do you have cookouts and meetings and things? Can I join?


From: Annoyed Prospect #8

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Lol funny! I used to do a lot of pup but I'm into software programming now, mainly C sharp and C++. Where is the programming community? I want some BBQ!


From: Annoyed Prospect #9

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Thanks a lot for giving everyone my email address. lol


From: Annoyed Prospect #10

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Well, quite the response. And no inspiring confidence in this company. But yeah, I was amazed this was just CC'd to everyone... Very unprofessional, impersonal, and a complete disregard of people's information.

I am requesting you remove my old resume, email, and every other piece of information you have about me. I will check into it a month or so down the road and them go from there if you have not done so.


From: Annoyed Prospect #11

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

How thoroughly amusing! Thanks everyone! This just made my day! J

And John Doe, I would take these good ppl's advice and find another job?


From: Annoyed Prospect #7

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Funniest thing is I *am* in WA state, but I don't "do" PHP. I have it on my resume as something I'm familiar with, due to my WordPress development - but I'm not, by any stretch, a PHP developer.

Still, if there's a BBQ, I'll bring the dessert. :)


From: Annoyed Prospect #2

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

At this point, I say we have a BBC for all non-PHP people in WA state!

Recruiters not invited, sorry John Doe, but the people you need won't be there anyway.


From: Annoyed Prospect #7

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

This **** was a pain in the ***, but in the end (haha) it was pretty funny. A nice break in the day....


From: Annoyed Prospect #2

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Agreed, I'll stop pinging everyone's mailbox and put it to rest.

No actual hard feelings, John Doe, we've all made mistakes, and I know I've hit reply all once on accident.

Hope everyone has a great rest of their week, and successful endeavors in their career.


From: Annoyed Prospect #12

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Wow, 198 recipients in the CC header. How very retro.

As you can see, John Doe, we tend to be a bit touchy about this sorta thing. Nobody sends out mass emails in this fashion anymore. I'm sure you didn't mean to offend anyone, but I'd strongly suggest you send out a quick apology to everyone for the faux pas, since the last thing you want as a recruiter is to alienate so many of the local talent.

In the future, you should look for more modern tools for sending out recruiting emails to people on your list. These mass emails are very common and largely tolerated (more or less), but they should go out to one person at a time. Having them all in the CC like this is a violation of people's privacy, because now everyone you sent that email to can see everyone else's email address.

I tend to be more forgiving than most people so you and I are still cool. I can't speak for everyone else, though. =)


From: Annoyed Prospect #3

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Touchy my ***. **** this guy I hope he chokes to death on a pile of his own vomit. In the future he should do us a favor and remove himself from the breeding population.


From: Annoyed Prospect #10

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Yeah... I live in Seattle and am a PHP "specialist" but contract work is terrible. Might have done it years ago but no way I'd do it now.


From: Annoyed Prospect #2

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Annoyed Prospect #3, I feel sorry for any company hiring you, as your attitude is deplorable. Wishing ill on someone because they made a mistake like pasting into the wrong field...especially with such vitriol, is extremely unbecoming of an employee, contractor, or even a human. Should I ever see your resume come across my desk,I shall be sure to pass it by. I humbly suggest you seek counseling, and you will be in my prayers.

John Doe, this man's threats and anger are not echoed by any sane person on this thread.


From: Annoyed Prospect #12

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

I can vouch for Annoyed Prospect #3's character. He's just using hyperbole to drive the point home that this sort of recruiting tactic is extremely unwelcome in our community. I don't think any reasonable person would take his vomit-choking remark as any kind of actual threat.

And it's entirely possible that I'm being too nice about the whole thing. People like Annoyed Prospect #3 have every right to be angry at this sort of thing. I agree with you Annoyed Prospect #2 that it was probably just a stupid mistake and I'm certainly willing to forgive and forget, but there's no harm either in sending a clear and resounding message that this sort of thing will not be tolerated.

Now, everyone, let's all chill and play nice. Annoyed Prospect #3's a good guy and I'm sure this John Doe fellow is, too. Just don't ever do something like this again, John Doe, and we'll all live happily ever after. An apology would certainly help, though. =)


From: Annoyed Prospect #3

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Thanks Annoyed Prospect #12, I'm just mad over exposing sensitive information to a large group who knows how to leverage it. Literally it makes me ill to think about it, or how it can be taken advantage of.


From: Annoyed Prospect #8

Date: May 20

To: [entire mailing list]

Wow, this stupid chain letter got my ****** account disabled for a few hours!

Can you like learn to not send giant chain letters? Holy crap!

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