How not to submit your software developer resume…

on Jun 22, 10 • by Carolyn Perkins • with 16 Comments

I like developers. I have spent a career hiring, motivating, confusing, annoying and retaining developers.  I am not going to go so far as to say I understand you guys, but I do know what makes a good developer.  More importantly, I know what makes someone a bad fit for the team I am recruiting ...

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I like developers.

I have spent a career hiring, motivating, confusing, annoying and retaining developers.  I am not going to go so far as to say I understand you guys, but I do know what makes a good developer.  More importantly, I know what makes someone a bad fit for the team I am recruiting for.

First impressions are important. Yeah, I know, it sucks and your technical prowess should speak for itself, but it doesn’t.  Let’s face it, if you forget the “L” in Klocwork in your cover letter, I’m laughing too hard to pay attention to your superior coding skills.

If you continually refer to me as “Sir”, my feminist nose gets a bit out of joint; resumes filled with spelling errors throw into question your attention to detail and your level of concern for putting forth solid code.

While I am on the subject of resumes, it’s very impressive that people have the experience to fill up 15 pages of a resume. Maybe it’s even impressive that they have the time to type out a 15-page resume, but no one else has the time or the inclination to read a 15-page resume.  To date, the record length for a resume that I have received is 25 pages – this person is not employed here.

Being in this industry and in HR for as long as I have, I have learned something shocking – people stretch the truth on their resumes!  Imagine that!  And then imagine a company having the audacity to have someone in for an interview and test the person to assess whether what they claim on their resume is actually the case.  Of course, as a candidate, you should then take great offense to the fact that my colleagues and I called into question your integrity, your intelligence, and your worth as a citizen of the world.  In fact, you should probably follow up your interview with a strongly worded e-mail addressed to Sir at Kocwork.  Or maybe you shouldn’t.

Just…don’t…do…that.   We are not attacking your credibility. We do not enter the interview room thinking you are a lying, worthless waste of skin. In fact, we are pretty excited to meet you, so far we have liked what we have seen, otherwise you would not be here.

We will remain excited to meet you, right up to the point where you show up half an hour late, wearing a questionable outfit covered with what appears to be last week’s Sunday dinner.  Maybe you will look me in the eye, or maybe you will direct your eyes to my chest and keep them fixed there throughout the interview.  When that happens I like to observe where your eyes remain clamped when my male coworkers are interviewing you because inevitably it has nothing to do with what is on the interviewer’s chest. It’s just a convenient place to rest one’s gaze.  However,  between you and me, it kinda freaks me out.

I found this blog to be rather cathartic. I have more, so much more and if I am invited back as a guest blogger, maybe my therapy bills will go down.  Until we meet across a table in our interview room, I wish you good luck and good code!

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16 Responses to How not to submit your software developer resume…

  1. Duncan says:

    I like those infographic resumes that show you instead of telling you. I liked them so much that I did one for me. I’ll tell you, it was great fun to do.

  2. PF says:

    Carolyn, you just reminded me of when a new neighbor introduced herself by knocking at my door and walking inside uninvited. She introduced herself as she walked to my fridge, opened door and took out a beer. She then asked if I had any good movies to watch and plopped herself on the couch. I said no, excused myself and visited the bathroom. When I exited she was no longer on the couch and I thought she was gone. When I walked in my bedroom, she was lying on my bed and asked “Can you set the alarm clock for 6:30 AM?”.

    No 15 page resume required, verbal or otherwise. She clearly took charge of the “interview” but it was for not. Unfortunately for her, I did not set my “Klock” as I was not in the mood. Darn it, another potentially good employee lost solely based on first impressions…

  3. Guru says:

    My resume is always less than 3 pages. What do people put on a 15 page resume?
    I am curious. Do you know the countries these 15 page resume writers are from? In some cultures bragging in not considered a vice.

  4. Brian says:

    Woo-hoo! Let me know when you’re hiring more software developers :-)

  5. Brian – absolutely correct… if we gave out prizes on this blog, you’d win one :)

  6. Brian says:

    Joe – I always assumed that the “kloc” in “Klocwork” stood for “thousands (K) of Lines Of Code”, rather than a mis-spelling of “clock”. I’m not an insider at Klocwork, so maybe that’s just a bad guess,

  7. Mark says:

    Most of those 15 page resumes summarize only 3-4 years of experience. I wonder if they take a daily diary and write down EVERY buzz word they hear mentioned in a company and put it in their resume!

    The other thing that kills me is putting every 4th word in BOLD whether it pertains to the job they are applying for or not. Bold font in resumes can be very effective, if it’s used on the terms and experience needed in the job description. Why don’t people understand this? If you highlight your UNIX experience when applying to a Windows shop, it looks like you’re spamming your resume out to see what sticks.

    TAILOR YOUR RESUME TO EACH POSITION YOU’RE APPLYING FOR!

  8. Ben says:

    I’m hiring at the moment – resumes (CVs in the UK) that I’ve received include one addressed “Dear Madam” (quite clearly I’m not) and also one written in Comic Sans, which for some reason isn’t that unusual. We’re a casual firm, but need to maintain a professional image. I’ve also seen ones with very bad layout – sent as PDF documents, so I know it was sent like that. Please make an effort to lay it out in a readable fashion, and get someone to check the spelling! I’m not looking for a hyper-designed layout, but at least make it readable.

    Totally agree that lying on CV is bad. It’s the recruitment agents that I feel are responsible for this as they just look at the languages listed on the CV and match them to job requirements without providing any additional value. The first thing we do is test technical knowledge so you are wasting everyone’s time if you put “experienced Java programmer” but can’t answer basic Java questions. And being able to do a few basic SQL statements on a database does not make you knowledgeable in SQL.

  9. Michael says:

    My cover letter to C|net in the later 90′s consisted of these words, “I’m the shit.” and my resume… They called, we talked, they flew me out, interviewed, and made me an offer…

    A later had the pleasure of interviewing my replacement in one of my positions… two individuals each over a game. For each I broke out a deck of Toy Story UNO asking if the person had played before. Both individuals hadn’t. Its an easy game with the directions fitting on the back of a single card. The first person was English and had worked for the UK’s space program… To speak in generalities, the English love games… and we had a great interview… He was at complete was a ease and enjoyed the game. I learned more from him over that simple game than any normal interview would of revealed. The same could be said of the next person as halfway through the first hand, I asked if she was sure she was playing the came correctly. She completely lost it growling, “What the heck did this have to do with an interview?” I calmly replied, “If you cannot handle a simple children’s game how could you be expected to handle the the position for which she was interviewing” and continued sighting a number the difficulties she’d be faced with unique to working for the company. From the look of her face she knew she had blown it…

  10. mramirez says:

    I made the mistake of sending 5 or 6 pages document to potential employers. I fix that, later.

    In other countries, both H.R. & job seekers use the “Curriculum Vitae” word. I prefer to use the “Resume” word, & try not to use more of 2 pages. I had an interview once, where the interviewer told another employee that “this guy is probally hiding something, he just write 2 pages of condensed information”. I also had an interview where the employee ask me to send the 15 pages doc., after the 2 pages doc.

  11. joe says:

    Maybe if you’re so miffed about somebody forgetting a letter in your company’s name, you should choose something that isn’t a contrived misspelling already?

  12. josh says:

    If you had a nickle for every idiotic thing an interviewee did, and I had a nickle for every idiotic thing an interviewer or HR person did, we might both be a lot richer.

  13. JP says:

    I think resumes are dying. At least I hope they do. The way I see it, companies that depend upon resumes are ordinary and those job-seekers who depend upon their resume landing them a job are ordinary. We need extraordinary. Work that can be demoed speaks louder than a resume. That’s what has always landed me great jobs.

    However, being the interviewer, I realize how difficult it can be to find these people. I can only hope that job seekers decide to stop wasting time on a resume and start becoming a Linchpin.

    Take care.

  14. Tracy says:

    I wish I could believe that you are jesting. Unfortunately I have worked too long to doubt your experience is unique! I love your wit and intelligence, and hope to read more of your blogs.

  15. Ed Han says:

    O wow…it blows my mind that a single candidate would present all of those coaching moments!

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