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Skills-based Resumes

Posted by PAS on 11 March 2009

I have recently been updating and freshening up my resume, and thought I would do something different… something to stand out. Having interviewed many people, from software engineers to product managers and CTOs, I have had the opportunity to see many resumes. Most of the resumes I see are quite bland and boring – as if written for a machine. They have no personality, no passion and no creativity. I wanted my resume to have personality, passion and creativity.

Since I am a well rounded engineer, I thought I would be able to cover more of my skills in a skills-based resume, instead of a chronological list of my work experience. I went through and split my skills into areas (Coding, Data, Operations, Communication, etc) and listed a few points under each. At the end, I added my work experience, but only with a short paragraph of what I did there.

While I thought this style made a good resume, recruiters hate it, and so do people trying to hire.

After getting some advice, I wanted to share it with the rest of the world. Here are the things people want to see in software engineering/technical resume:

  • Technical Skills: After your object at the top (if you want to display passion), make a clear section describing your technical skills – languages, databases, environments.
  • Summary: Recruiters give your resumes only seconds when determining its fit for a role, so help them out by having a small summary easily telling the reader how many years of experience you have, your last role, and perhaps your education. From this, they can deduce.
  • Accomplishments: When you do list the companies you have worked for, make sure to include some of your notable accomplishments and things you are proud of. If possible, try and quantify them (revenue generated, queries per second, amount of data).
  • Your Role: Let the reader know what your role and responsibilities were at each position you have held

Resume writing is a complex task, and something a lot of people dread. I have definitely not covered everything, but I did want to make clear a skills resume is not a good idea. Also be aware that many recruiting companies load resumes through a computer before even looking at them. Try to have keywords a search engine could pick up on (like SEO for resumes).

Perhaps resumes written for machines is a good thing after all?

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