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Get specific in your resumes!

Andy Lester
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Joined: Jun 03, 2009
Posts: 61
A few weeks ago at Milwaukee Jobcamp, I was a Resume Doctor. I got to wear a big red cross button, and I'd critique resumes for attendees. It was fun to meet everyone from a clerk at an optician's office to a just-out-of-school system administrator.

The consistent flaw I found is that we've become so concerned about fitting our resumes into short little bullet points that we drain them of all life. Further, these vague bullet points leave open to the reader's imagination about the specifics of the position.

Consider these bullet points from a random resume I pulled from the net:

  • Maintain and grow the code base
  • Troubleshoot bugs and analyze logs/database records
  • Mentor and assist other developers


  • That's all well and good, but that's awfully boring. It also doesn't give me any idea of how big your projects are, or the size of your user base.

    Compare to these bullets:

  • Maintain and grow the code base: In April 2007, FooFooTron consisted of 75,000 lines of code, which grew to 210,000 lines in May 2009.
  • Troubleshoot bugs: As one of two dedicated bug hunters, I responded to up to 30 trouble tickets per week. Of the 15% of tickets that were actual bugs, 90% were fixed within 24 hours.
  • Analyzed up to 100MB of logs each day with logwatch and my own custom analysis tools. Also maintained stability of 17GB Postgres database with 12,000,000 records.
  • Mentored five junior developers on the team of twelve.


  • See how much more information the second example gives? See how much more interesting it is? And how it gives a much better sense of the scope of responsibilities?

    Your awesomeness is not self-evident. You have to spell it out for people because they don't know anything about you.

    One easy way to re-evaluate your resume is by looking at each bullet point and making sure there is some sort of number in there that gives a sense of scope. It might be lines of code, tickets answered, database size, people on the team, anything that gives the reader a better idea of your background.

    I'd love to see examples from JavaRanch readers.

    The Working Geek, a blog of job hunting and work life for techies. Author of Land The Tech Job You Love. Follow me at @theworkinggeek
    arulk pillai
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    Joined: May 31, 2007
    Posts: 3220
    Verygood point Andy.

    What the recruiters are looking for is the impact of your tasks or activities on the organization. Quantify your information as much as possible by including dollar amount, time frames, how many, how big, how much, how often, and so on. Just like a picture is worth thousands words, quantifying by using numbers in your resume can make a huge difference.


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    Katrina Owen
    Sheriff

    Joined: Nov 03, 2006
    Posts: 1362
        
      17
    Andy Lester wrote:
    Your awesomeness is not self-evident.


    That is a truly awesome quote... am I correctly reminded of a guy named Chad Fowler?

    I think that two three of the things that I am most proud of in the past year are:

  • I automated away a task that was taking approximately one full day a week, freeing up 20% of my time
  • On my own initiative, I set up a continuous integration server in February 2009. This included writing build scripts and getting code coverage metrics for the first time in a three year old project. Contributed in a large part to increasing code coverage from the initial 18% to the current 35%
  • rewrote a core piece of functionality using test driven development that resulted in a 20 X performance increase as measured by jMeter scripts. Code coverage for that functionality went from 0% to 96%


  • [edited for spelling]
    Andy Lester
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    Joined: Jun 03, 2009
    Posts: 61
    Katrina Owen wrote:That is a truly awesome quote... am I correctly reminded of a guy named Chad Fowler?


    Yeah, I tweaked it from something similar of his while we worked on a webcast for O'Reilly a few weeks ago.
    Katrina Owen
    Sheriff

    Joined: Nov 03, 2006
    Posts: 1362
        
      17
    I love his "passionate programmer" book - it's one of those books that I had to have *now* - the get-in-the-car-and-drive-to-borders-even-though-it-is-10-pm type of thing.

    (which I was going to do with this book of yours, too, actually. Except that according to their website they don't have it in stores. So much for instant gratification.)
    Andy Lester
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    Joined: Jun 03, 2009
    Posts: 61
    Katrina Owen wrote:I love his "passionate programmer" book


    The first edition of that book was one of my inspirations to do Land The Tech Job You Love. I'm pleased to have what turns out to sort of be a "partner" book with his.
     
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