A Real Hiring Manager Critiques a Real Resume

Flavien Bessede, a hiring manager and analytics engineer with mobile game advertising-platform company Chartboost, recently agreed to critique a tech resume and offer one-on-one advice to a job seeker, per a request from Dice News. The job seeker is a Silicon Valley IT marketing veteran, who’s allowing us to post her resume (with her personal information and previous employers blacked out). Here’s how the conversation went.

Chartboost’s Flavien Bessede talks with a job seeker.

Our job seeker’s been on the hunt for the past three months, looking for a director or senior management position in marketing, product management or strategic alliance. Her experience includes work at Fortune 500 IT companies and overseas assignments.

From 10,000 Feet

“It’s a confusing resume,” Bessede said at the start. “Some of the work was done here, some abroad. Some of the school was done here, some abroad. It’s hard to get a sense of when and where your work experience was done.”

Some other observations:

  • Limit resume to one page, unless applying for a C-level position. Hiring managers spend about one minute — often much less — scanning the document for keywords that are applicable to the job description.
  • Present the resume in a chronological fashion, and Company, title, date.
  • Limit job history to 15 years or less. Technology advancements move fast and experience beyond 15 years is dated. For older candidates concerned about competing with younger people, there’s an upside to this: It masks your age.

Here’s a marked up copy of the resume. Dice News numbered his comments and expanded on them below.

1: Put brackets around area code
2: Keep summary length to two to four lines
3: Move bullet point up. It’s more important to show your accomplishments in handling a task.
4: Condense three dashes into a quick recap that reads: “Led developer outreach by growing online communities through blogs and forums; engaged developers at conferences and events; and managed trade show booth and presented at CTIA, JavaOne and Mobile World Congress.
5: It’s OK to list self-employment. In fact, it indicates an entrepreneurial spirit that may make you  the right person for a startup.

6: “Sabbatical” has wrong connotation. Remove second semi-colon typo.
7: Add “study” after Mandarin.
8: Remove product line names, because they’re unnecessary.
9: “Frustrated” is negative, so replace it with a neutral word. Reduce four bullet points to two.
10: Remove work experience from 1996 and beyond. It’s dated.
11: If you’re concerned about age screening, don’t include the year of a college degree.
12: Remove additional space between “Lieutenant” and “Commanded.”

Better Best

Our job seeker found several nuggets in Bessede’s critique particularly valuable.

“Three of his comments were precious,” she said. “One was to shorten the introduction. I thought it was already short enough. But for someone who looks at a lot of resumes, I can now see how it would seem too long.”

She also agreed “frustrated” should not be in a resume. Previously, a career consultant had advised her to use “frustrated” because it reflected a situation between two people that she resolved and it didn’t reflect poorly on her employer.

Finally, Bessede’s observation that some of her experience pre-dated his birth that called out the need to keep her resume current.

Overall, “I feel pretty good about my resume. I think he expected a really bad one,” she said.

Want Your Own Resume Critiqued?

Obviously, we want to give you the firepower you need to land a job. So between now and May 31, send us an email if you’d like your resume critiqued. We’ll select a couple from the people we hear from. Here’s what we need:

  • Send an email to editor@dice.com. In the subject line, say “Resume,” followed by your industry, occupation sought, and the number of IT jobs you’ve held.
  • In the body of the email, tell us if you can meet one-on-one in the San Francisco Bay area with a hiring manager. If you live outside the Bay Area, can you do a Skype interview?
  • Are you willing to have your resume posted on Dice site, as we’ve done here? We’ll black out your personal information.
  • Are you willing to be interviewed after the critique?
  • We’ll ask you to send a copy of your resume once we select our participants and line up an appropriate hiring manager.

Again, send your email to editor@dice.com, and the deadline is May 31.

17 Responses to “A Real Hiring Manager Critiques a Real Resume”

  1. I’d like to see the same resume handed to at least two more, different, hiring managers, and run through the same scenario. If all three make similar recommendations she is well served. Otherwise it’s a matter of what that hiring manager wants to see.

    • Dawn Kawamoto

      Hi RMS, fantastic idea!

      Your point is well taken and I’ll expand my efforts to secure enough hiring managers to triple-up on a resume critique.

      As we roll out more of these critiques, I hope others will chime in on ways to improve the process. These critiques, after all, are meant to benefit you and other Dice readers!

  2. Wow. This article was great. I always wanted to know the perspective of a hiring manager. I’ve never had to hire someone and have never been in a position to hire/fire anybody. I agree with RMS it would be even more beneficial to add more perspectives of the managerial persuasion if possible. But all in all, a very insightful article Mrs. Kawamoto. Thank you for your efforts and work. 🙂

  3. I second the need for multiple hiring managers to look at things. The advice to keep it to “one page” for a senior level position seems particularly bad, particularly if the applicant has extensive research credentials/patents. These can not be adequately conveyed in “one page” along with education and work experience.

    • I agree with this. The people I know who can fit their experience on one page are only in their 20s. In my background as consultant, pre-sales, and PM, I often work with C-level customers and stakeholders, so I believe it’s important to list some of that breathe and depth of experience beyond only one page. There are some very good, basic tips here, but it’s important to keep in mind that the above resume reads like someone pretty young and still working at gaining more work experience rather than someone who has more experience and professional maturity.

  4. Interesting premise… Well written story… I’d only take exception to one thing… This isn’t a “tech resume”, and the job-seeker isn’t looking for a technical position… Is it possible to perhaps run an actual “technologist resume” through this process with a “technical” hiring manager? I suspect that some of the advice (e.g. limiting resumes to one page) will change.

  5. atayal

    Thanks Dawn. Nice article. It it of great help to people like me who are in the market after a long time (15 years in my case) and are not in touch with the latest resume building techniques…

  6. I think the article is overall, right on target.

    I’m sorry, but the brackets on area code is just picky and a non-issue.

    The Summary line could even be shorter, unless you want to limit your opportunities. It’s amazing how often I read a resume and the objective seems to be totally out of sync with my objective. All I can ask is, do they read the ad, or do they really want the job that I have available?

    #4 – Do Not use all of the ‘and’s that have been recommended. The resume is a summary of facts, not a conversation.
    #5 – replace the word project with contract

    I believe the confusion over the Chinese immersive studies could be eliminated by treating it as self-employment rather than education., i.e.,Chinese Business Practices, Immersive – also, do you speak Mandarin, if so, that is a huge plus. If not, the Mandarin reference should be included in the descriptive.

    Good experience and good critique. Interesting how my take differs a bit from the writer – and neither is right or wrong.

  7. This was a very helpful article. However, if someone is looking for technical or contract work, the operating systems, software, and applicable skills should be explicitly listed on the first page of the resume rather than making the hiring manager dig through text to figure it out. Because of this, the technical resume should be 2 pages.

    • Dawn Kawamoto

      Hi CC,

      Thanks for asking. This Silicon Valley job seeker was not interested in any of the Chartboost openings, but rather wanted to have her resume battle-tested by a real hiring manager. If she was interested in applying for any of the current job openings at Chartboost, I would not have been able to hook the two up. It would have tainted the job applicant pool by giving her an unfair advantage. That’s not to say, however, that one day she can later apply to Chartboost.

      This is the same type of matching process that will be done in the pilot we’re running. I hope you and our other readers will sign up to participate in this pilot. The deadline is May 31. Take care, Dawn

  8. MustBeLuckyCauseIHaveAJob

    RE: “some of her experience pre-dated his birth”

    Her earliest experience is 1987. That puts him at no more than 25 years old. While age is not a criteria for knowing how to find a good candidate from a resume, I have to believe experience is. For all I know he’s been doing since he was 12, but how many people has this guy hired and how good is the track record of those that he has hired? How do we know that his criteria is shared among those that have successful hiring track records? Perhaps a little bio on the hiring manager to frame his experience will allow us to trust his opinion and train of thought.

    ( Still, he’s the guy looking at the resume and hiring now, so regardless of if he does this well, his opinion matters in this context.)

    Also, what qualifies an analytics engineer to critique a marketing candidates resume? Someone in the marketing field may look at the resume completely differently.

    • MustBeLuckyCauseIHaveAJob

      BTW, I like the concept of this feature. Great idea. I just would like to make sure that it is relevant to the readers and useful.

  9. I have to agree with some of the previous posters. You have a tech manager critiquing a non-tech resume. You have a hiring manager with relatively minimal experience critiquing someone with a lot of experience.

    Still, there is some very good advice in this article, but there’s also some that reflects his personal preferences versus general advice.

  10. Daria

    I think this is a great feature and brilliant idea to have resume published and reviewed. I can also “fix” my own resume based on this article. I already picked up on some points to improve but still need to sit down and implement them. 🙂