Big Data/Analytics Zone is brought to you in partnership with:

Daniel Doubrovkine (aka dB.) is one of the tallest engineers at Art.sy. He founded and exited a successful Swiss start-up in the 90s, worked for Microsoft Corp. in Redmond, specializing in security and authentication, dabbled in large scale social networking and ran a big team that developed an expensive Enterprise product in NYC. After turning open-source cheerleader a few years ago in the worlds of C++, Java and .NET, he converted himself to Ruby and has been slowly unlearning everything he learned in the last 15 years of software practice. Daniel has posted 46 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile

5 Anti-Patterns in a College Grad Engineer’s Resume

03.29.2013
| 2943 views |
  • submit to reddit

A resume is what you did, it’s not who you are.

In the past few years I’ve collected dozens of resumes from junior Engineering candidates and have provided written feedback to those who wanted to improve. I found that the vast majority of resumes have similar anti-patterns, repeating mistakes that are a quick turn off for any hiring manager. If you are in school or a soon to be graduating computer science major and don’t want your resume to go to the garbage, read the following 5 anti-patterns.

Objectives Are Too Broad

image

“To obtain a full time position that matches my enthusiasm, constant effort and efficiency.”

An objectives paragraph creates unnecessary barriers in hiring you, at best. The above example limits you to full time offers, then just moves some air around. Don’t limit your search to full time positions, especially if you’re trying to relocate. Most companies I know will extend a full time offer if you do an amazing job as an intern. Remove this text and repeat after me: “Seeking a paid internship or full time programming position with an experienced Engineering team.”

Github is Your New Resume

“I am an open-source contributor …”

image

I wrote an article that went viral, Github is Your New Resume. When evaluating someone’s Github profile, I usually click on Repositories and then Sources. Do you have a project that you have started that has been heavily forked and contributed to? Do you have any activity that’s longer than a year ago or did you just throw some code up there to beef up your resume? Does your contributions graph really look like this?

image

I don’t expect a junior developer to have any of these things. Displaying a link to an empty Github profile is a terrible idea. Do link to your personal website.

You have Lead, Driven, Managed, Advised or Evangelized

image

“Advised xyz.com founders in technology selection.”

It reads like your head can barely squeeze through your chateau’s living room French doors! You are not the project’s lead because you’re the only programmer. You’re not an advisor because your friends started a website and wanted to know which language is cool. Downplay and humble-down every single word on paper. Let your results and references speak for your value, not your resume. Remove every single adjective or verb that isn’t “did”, “implemented” or “built”.

You Have Expert Skills

image

“Expert in C++, Photoshop and Excel.”

I recommend removing a list of skills altogether and writing, in tiniest font possible, the technologies used within your work experience.  Should you talk about source control that you have worked with on the resume? My answer is no: make sure to avoid the impedance mismatch between the tools and technologies that you describe. My rule of thumb – delete anything that’s not a programming language.

You Took Many Courses and Excelled in Clubs

image

“2nd Place in the Campus Green Computing Initiative”

Most of us who left college many years ago will roll our eyes when you ask about those college years.

I think your resume should demonstrate that you can make an effective transition from college to the workforce, which means leaving as much “college” behind as possible. Being a Teaching Assistant should go into your work experience, but your participation in chess club should be left out. I would also not include a mention of your GPA. And any work experience that you may have should be concise and explain what the project was and what you did within that project.

***

If you like the advice above, and are in college or a recent grad, send me a copy of your resume to dblock[at]dblock[dot]org. I promise to give it 15 minutes and email you a few bullet points of feedback.

Published at DZone with permission of its author, Daniel Doubrovkine. (source)

(Note: Opinions expressed in this article and its replies are the opinions of their respective authors and not those of DZone, Inc.)

Comments

Lukas Eder replied on Fri, 2013/03/29 - 6:51pm

"Downplay and humble-down every single word on paper."

Nah, self-confidence is good if it's not conceited or arrogant. "If you think you can do it, be proud of it."

"delete anything that’s not a programming language."

No way. Being able to leverage tools is important. Knowing the right tools already at a college level is all the more valuable.

"which means leaving as much “college” behind as possible"

Why? College is all a junior might know. It's the most important part of their resume. I like to think back at my own time at college. When I see a junior software engineer's resume, I'm curious about what they were doing for the last 5 years in... well... in college!

This article was just pointing out 1-2 "typical" CV flaws without really hinting at how things could  be improved. It is because of unconstructive, negative criticism like this that I've tried helping young people phrase their CVs in the past. They were afraid of this and that type of HR guy who would tear them apart because of "obvious flaws" in their CVs. In fact, I've already heard the complete opposite before (e.g. the "objectives paragraph" is the most important thing).

There's only one rule to writing CVs:

Write a CV in a way that most accurately expresses how you want to be perceived by those people who you think you'd like to work for. If that includes a picture of you and a goat because you think goats really look nice, then do it, if you think your employer might be intrigued by that.

Lund Wolfe replied on Sat, 2013/03/30 - 4:45am

I agree that you should just list what you have actually done, but that can include school projects.  Developers who interview you will be just as curious about that and it puts you on common ground.

Some employers are interested in your GPA, especially if you don't have any work experience yet.  It does give some indication of past effort.

Skills are highly relevant for any level of experience.  You may have learned tools, frameworks outside your regular job, or before you had a programming job.  Those skills will be highly applicable to your future employer, and they show that you have a direction and won't be dead weight.  Don't take credit for anything you don't feel competent in.  Interviewers may challenge you and it will make you appear incompetent or dishonest.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.