IT Recruiter Critiques Grad’s Programmer Resume

RevisedRoberta Fricker considers herself a “new nerd.”

After working as an analyst in insurance giant Aetna’s Seattle office, she decided she wanted to learn more coding. So, she quit. After dabbling with SQL server, she took an ASP .NET course and found her home. “That’s when I decided I wanted to become a programmer,” she says.

Last year, Roberta graduated from Santa Barbara City College with a certificate in computer science. Hence her self-awarded title of “new nerd.” Even while she looks for work, she codes every day to keep her skills up. She’s created a mock advertisement using Flash and has built her website using HTML 4.01, XHTML, CSS 2.1 and Adobe Photoshop.

Still, despite her certificate and these projects, her job search has been challenging.

“The first thing I did was approach people I knew,” Roberta says. “I also tried LinkedIn and sent a bunch of emails with zero results. I tried cold-calling recruiters, but they said I needed at least six months of professional experience. I also thought the screening software companies use could be holding up my resume, so I tried tweaking it.”

To help out, we paired Roberta with a hiring manager, an internal recruiter and an external recruiter to get their suggestions on how to improve her resume. It’s part of our ongoing Resume Makeover series,  which pairs job seekers with recruiters and hiring managers to get real-world feedback.

We begin this week’s three-part series with Robert Watson, a senior IT recruiter for consulting and IT services firm International Solutions Group, based Herndon, Va. He spoke to Roberta by video conference.

Our full series on Roberta”s resume critique:

The Big Picture

Watson’s first suggestion was that Roberta make clear her initiative and passion for programming. “Rather than whining about the economy and how it’s preventing you from getting a job, you’re actually still coding and extending what you know,” he observed. “You’re a self-learner and employers like that.”

In terms of the resume’s layout, he saw her listing of “Key Accomplishments” under each employer as a good strategic design.

When it comes to submitting her resume, he suggests sending it as a PDF, rather than a Word document. That way she won’t risk having its format screwed up because of incompatibilities with any resume scanning programs an employer might use.

The Nitty Gritty

Here’s a deep dive on Roberta’s resume:

1: Put your contact information into the header, rather than the body of the resume. It’ll increase the room you have for additional information on the resume.

2: Eliminate “1 of 2” pages. On the second page, move “2 of 2” to the bottom.

3a, 3b: Remove the words “email” and “Web site.”

4: I like the layout and use of consistent fonts.

5: Move dates to far right and also explain what you’ve been doing between Feb. 2010 to present.

Watson also suggested that Roberta note that she’s worked on personal coding projects, and explain what they do and why she selected them.

6: Spacing between the first bullet point and the headings are inconsistent.

“You should pick one font and, at most, pick two font sizes,” said Watson. “You can also use bold or spacing to create a sense of separation.”

Roberta’s Takeaways

To Roberta, the most significant change to make is to more clearly describe what she’s been doing since she got her certificate. “I need to explain whether I was laying on the beach, or continuing my development,” she says. “Robert suggested I mention my projects in an interview, because they may have missed it on my resume.”

Come back Wednesday, when Erik Wieland, director of IT services for the University of California San Francisco’s Department of Medicine weighs in. On Friday, Roberta hears from Rita Gordon, corporate talent acquisition manager at Electronic Arts.

44 Responses to “IT Recruiter Critiques Grad’s Programmer Resume”

  1. I read some of the job ads for developers and do not apply. Half of the description is actually for a system admin with application support experience, 1/4 is for system architect and the last 1/4 is about actual developer’s knowledge and experience. It is not only applicants that get it wrong….

    • I often find that the position description and the actual position are two separate things. Many employers do not take the time to figure out what they actually need, and have someone unfamiliar with the specifics of the job either write the job listing or screen applicants. Being a contractor, I have experienced this countless times. During he interview the questions go off in a tangent, and I discover they want something completely different.

  2. What I find most curious is the suggestions to submit as a PDF, and contact information in header. In at least one other source I have read the “opposite”; PDFs cannot be read by scanners, nor can the header be parsed for contact information.

    • jcpopescu

      Hi Mike,

      I once had a very nifty PDF of my resume. It would open with the first page and bookmarks to the left so anyone reading it could navigate to any particular portion of the document they wanted.

      Do you know how many recruiters wanted it ? Zero, zilch, nada, sit , goose egg, none. Vehemently they seemed to chorus in unison a demand for word document.

      I think the REAL reason is the author can lock down the usage priveledges of an adobe acrobat document. If you’re on adobe publisher you can allow, or not, changing, copying, pasting, and alteration of the document. This is VERY powerful in the hands of a job seeker because it does not allow a third party recruiter to alter the document and if it is “hacked” to such changes I’m guessing there’s some legal recourse.

      I wouldn’t trust the words out of the mouth of Mr. Watson, International solutions group, or a third party recruiter. They impress me as just another bill. In this case a GARBAGE bill.

  3. Too bad we can’t critique the laziness of recruiters when they do a mass spam cattle call.

    They expect us to pay attention to details yet they sent impersonal emails, telling me that I’m a perfect candidate. Clearly, they don’t even bother reading resumes to clearly see that the job is not a fit.

    • jcpopescu

      Hi Ed,


      The VERY FIRST PARAGRAPH of my resume clearly states to even a forth grader the following:

      1) Geographic requirements. Eg no extended commutes or relocation.

      2) Compensation requirements.

      3) Employment requirements: Eg; Not interested in field service, commission, partnerships.

      For all intents and purposes I recieve electronic and voice messages making it very clear a given third party recruiter FAILED to read what I consider very relevant, germaine, and pertinent information.

      I give the first page of my resume to my neighbors kid, he reads it in about thirty seconds, and gets it on the first try.

      Why is this so difficult for a so-called grown adult and supposed “recruitment professional” to understand ? Are they STUPID ? I think absolutely, without a doubt, and clearly.

    • jcpopescu

      Hi Ed,

      The very first paragraph of my resume states, clear to even the reading acumen of a third grader in the worst performing inner city school, the following requirements:

      1) Geographic: No extended commutes or relocation.

      2) Compensation: Median or better for the job description listed at salary dot com.

      3) Employment: Not interested in field service, commission sales, or stock vehicles in lieu of compensation.

      Why something so simple is obvious to even a child yet completely oblivious to a supposed full grown adult and “staffing professional” is a mystery to me. The electronic mail and voice messages I have recieved from , for all intents and purposes, every last third party recruiter over the last few years makes it very clear they failed, miserably, to comprehend .

      What’s even more laughable: They expect years of “solid” and continuous employment yet expect someone to work for a short term contract position.

      I would not trust a single word out of the mouth of a third party recruiter. They’ve demonstrated themselves nothing but a pain in the butt.

  4. Julius Rainey

    Has anyone migrated from IT in the nonprofit sector to IT in higher education and/or corporate America? At my current nonprofit, I am the only IT person, so typically everything from network management, graphic design, electronic communications, social media, IT training/repairs/updates, etc. happens through me. The dilemma I keep having is that I don’t have any IT certifications. What certifications would you recommend first?

    Any advice on how to penetrate through the IT job walls in Higher Ed/Corporate America. Thanks!

    • Jimmy Lozano

      Sorry Julius… I don’t want be “mean” with you, but IT DOESN’T MATTER how many course you get about whatever kind of program-job there are… You Will NO GET ANY JOB… because THERE ARE NO JOBS “right now” in USA.
      The Only “KIND” of job that you can get right now is a minimum-part-time-job with a minimum-low-salary-rate without any contract… and if you find a job… the only way you can get it is only knowing at the supervisor of the company and GIVE HIM/HER whatever “FAVOR” that HE/SHE wants (favor=whatever course/program you have) and HOPE this kind of favor will not have to be against your principles and moral.
      Good Luck with your search… and 1 advice… don’t let that any recruiter criticize your resume, is a wast of your time and will no help you to find any job… if you don’t believe me… just read all comments of this article.

      • jcpopescu

        I have to agree….

        I have been in technology for over thirty years and bring what I consider a very rich sum total to a mutually beneficial employment relationship.

        I think, quite frankly, if I had the same in banking, law, finance, medicine, civil engineering, accounting I would have zero problems finding a job. As a matter of fact I would posit my biggest problem would be emptying out my voice and electronic mail messages on a daily basis.

        Right now I feel I have the same job prospects as a death row inmate.

        Alas the place I arrive at is the IT and STEM job market has become a race to the bottom. It’s not about anything but how to ball, chain, and handcuff an employee to the company via a “skilled guest worker” visa or cast the job as an “internship”. What’s next ? Will code, support, deploy for food ?

        I agree with you. I think the various “advice” out there is no more than KorpoRATe ego stroking and serves as some sort of pacifier.

        Until there’s a real, concentrated, and honest effort to training and retaining IT and STEM professionals things aren’t about to change.

    • Dawn Kawamoto

      Hi Julius, thanks for taking the time to raise the question. I hope you have a chance to check out our Day 2 story with Erik Wieland, the IT Services Director at UCSF Dept. of Medicine. One thing that Erik mentioned is the public service sector is usually interested in a jack-of-all trades IT pro, since budgets are usually more constrained. As a result, you seem like a good fit since you’ve been battle-tested already at your current job. Corporate America tends to like folks who are more narrowly focused on a particular area.

      Hope that helps and take care, Dawn

      • Julius, in academia it is not uncommon to see one-person IT shops. We are starting to see consolidation of commodity IT services, but it will always be the case that research labs and groups with special needs will hire their own techs. In my group of 12 we prefer to hire people who are self-taught, as that indicates that they are capable of learning on their own. I try to give my staff the space to identify new technologies that will help us, so that we can keep up with the demands of our customers. That being said, if you want to move into a larger IT enterprise you should figure out where you can specialize. The larger the IT shop, the more specialization there is.

    • ewielandatucsf

      Julius, this is a common problem even within the walls of academia. Smaller groups tend to have smaller IT staffs, and there are many one-person shops on campus. When you’re a jack of all trades the tendency is to be master of none, as the saying goes. That being said, I find that in academia there is less bias against candidates without formal certifications. In my group of 12 we prefer people who are self-taught, as this indicates that they are capable of learning new things as needed. There is still the problem of specialization, and I try to give my staff space to identify needs and learn new technologies so we can keep up with our customers. If you want to move into a larger IT environment you might want to think about ways you can specialize in specific technical areas and start learning on your own.

  5. Jimmy Lozano

    Is Very Funny read all comments of you guys…
    But is more funny to realize that all comments has truly points of view that why the recruiters can not help to employed to get a job:
    —- “” Too bad we can’t critique the laziness of recruiters when they do a mass spam cattle call. “”—-
    —-“” Clearly, they don’t even bother reading resumes to clearly see that the job is not a fit. “”—-

    —-“” Why is this so difficult for a so-called grown adult and supposed “recruitment professional” to understand ? Are they STUPID ? I think absolutely, without a doubt, and clearly. “”—-

    —-“” What’s even more laughable: They expect years of “solid” and continuous employment yet expect someone to work for a short term contract position.
    I would not trust a single word out of the mouth of a third party recruiter. They’ve demonstrated themselves nothing but a pain in the butt. “”—-

  6. Jimmy Lozano

    Mr. Erick Wieland

    You have a CONTRADICTION in your two different comments that you posted before, because:

    —-“” When you’re a jack of all trades the tendency is to be master of none, as the saying goes. “”—
    and then…
    —-“” In my group of 12 we prefer people who are self-taught, as this indicates that they are capable of learning new things as needed. “”—-
    —-“” If you want to move into a larger IT environment you might want to think about ways you can specialize in specific technical areas and start learning on your own. “”—-

    Well.. in my point of view of your statements… first you said we DON’T need learn a punch of specialized programs, second you said you need to self-taught… from where I need to learn?… and how much programs i need learn? and third… you said that if we need a job we need specialize in specific technical areas???, so which areas???…and how many???…

    If I’m wrong about this please feel free to correct me…
    but IF YOU CAN NOT… please avoid any comment that doesn’t work, because if miss Dawn CAN NOT answer the Question of Julius, and your comments are confusing Julius like me… Certainly there is NOT help to find the correct job that belongs to Julius.

    • I’m sorry my duplicate posts were confusing. I suggested that if Julius wanted to move into a larger group then he might want to prepare for the group by specializing in one or more areas. Which areas depends on the group he’s interested in. For example, if he wanted to get a job with an infrastructure group that uses NetApp appliances, then he might want to do some research on NetApp. If he can find a way to use this knowledge in his current job then that’s even better. If he wants to stay in a small group, or continue running a one-person show, then there are opportunities for him in academia in small research labs (as an example). Even in a one-person shop, working at a large university gives you the opportunity to interact with people using different technologies.

      Judging by the tone of your comment you must think I was trying to pull one over on the readers. That was not my intent. If you caught any inconsistencies they were purely accidental.

    • Dawn Kawamoto

      Mr. Lozano,

      First off, I would like to apologize to Erick Wieland. He was kind enough to volunteer his time at my request to critique the resumes of our readers and provide a public sector perspective. He was also generous with his time to address Julius’ questions about migrating from the non-profit sector to the public sector, when I asked him to weigh in today. Unfortunately, I did not have the answer for the type of certificates Julius should take to make a transition, however, I do know how to search out people who may have the answer. (Julius, I have not yet found someone to address your question of going from a non-profit to a large private sector company yet. You may want to check out our Tech Talk forum, because someone there may have had this experience:

      Regarding your comments and tone Mr. Lozano, it is very clear you’ve hit the wall. Your anger, frustration and sense of hopelessness just aren’t playing out here on this comments board, but a hint of this toxic behavior it could also potentially seep through in a job interview.

      I would hope you would treat this comments board and its participants with the same level of encouragement and support you would treat a colleague in the workforce.

      Take care, Dawn

      • jcpopescu


        Mr. Lozano makes a very succinct point in pointing out the contradictions in Mr. Wieland’s assertions.

        This is the biggest problem a lot of us STEM and IT professionals are hitting: Companies claim they want “self taught” yet the very tone and candor of their job listings if not the letter points out the last thing they want is someone without actual paid compensation in same industry and same role with same tools.

        Mr. Lozano asks a very relevant and pertinent question: Does he pick up SAP to satisfy the SAP ad ? Java, Hadoop, and big data tools to work at the “startup” or is there some generic tools he could learn to get a job at a place like UCSF ?

        Your response is nothing but a cheap shot and, quite frankly, this “resume makeover” impresses me as ridiculous, irrelevant, and almost laughable against a moving target of resume processing software incapable to place any kind of premium on the suggestions made by Mr. Wieland or any of the so-called “professionals”.

      • JCPOPESCU, your point is well taken. I agree that it is difficult to sell your skills to an employer when they can’t check your references to confirm them. That being said, the point I tried to make was that I find public sector employers more willing to take a risk on someone. I can’t guarantee that the next 10 public sector hiring managers won’t disagree with me.

      • jcpopescu

        Eric I think you missed my point entirely . I’ll try and be a bit more clear and lucid.

        A bank won’t hire an IT person unless that IT person has experience with exactly the same tools and technologies being employed in another bank.

        It’s been my experience picking up the “latest and greatest” hardware or software tools is great for sating your own curiosity however such has zero commodity value in the workplace.

        Furthermore: Let’s own reality: All a given professional, as opposed to personal, reference will say is the candidate worked at capacity between dates. That is even IF the company will take the time to respond.

        I have to disagree: The private sector is under pressure from equity holders to profitability. The public sector is under pressure from decreased revenues in property, income, and other taxes.

        What do both have in common ? It seems to be seeking “skilled guest workers” for the sake of cheap labor. I know, for fact, UCSF has done exactly this for various IT and technology roles.

      • jcpopescu

        Hello Erik,

        I’m not arguing at all. As Jimmy Lozano points out there’s a contradiction in your writings. Is there something Jimmy and myself missed ? OK So point out where and clarify.

        The sum of it reads, at least as I read and re-read: The opening salvo is someone who is a “jack of all trades” should be considered a master of none.

        The continuation:

        UCSF, as an example of public sector IT, seems to place a premium on the self taught and the same “jack of all trades, masters of none” to the dynamics specific to their changing needs.


        Look at the job listings and employment ads placed by UCSF and I would posit an overwhelming majority of both public and private sector IT employers.

        Notably absent are anything suggesting they want, would welcome, encourage, or place a premium on the “self taught”, “jacks of all trades” or someone with the SKILL to figure out the TOOL.

        As a matter of fact if you examine H-1B visa applications for 2010, UCSF , amongst other public sector IT employers, sought “skilled guest workers” for the same positions they could have , quite easily, filled had they earnestly and honestly sought the self taught and jacks of all trades you speak of !

      • Julius Rainey

        Thanks Dawn! I didn’t think my question/statement will bring such discussion. Honestly, I know my strengths and I know my passion, it’s just hard to convince employers of these things without having the “hard” technical skills. Does that make sense to anyone?

      • jcpopescu

        Hi Julius,

        YES ! what you wrote makes a lot of sense.

        I started in technology in my early teens swapping vaccum tubes in and out of discarded consumer electronics with the hopes of making such work. This provided the motive and basis for my formal education to understand how and why such things worked, did not, and even how to make them better.

        As yourself I feel a passion consequent of a natural and normal gravitation to things technical I felt and developed upon.

        I’ve gone into an interview with my laptop demonstrating software I’ve written, hardware I’ve built and the reception I find is, a great majority of the time, one that’s condenscending, icy, and disinterested making it clear I’m boring them.

        I have tried putting such to words on a resume to the best of my University educated writing abilities.

        So, to answer your question, YES. It makes sense because I have lived it.

  7. jcpopescu

    Now I just wonder…

    Would Mr. Watson successfuly place someone following the resume makeover advice given here ?

    Would Mr. Wieland or Ms. Gordon hire someone taking the resume makeover advice given here ?

    I would safely posit NO and NO.

  8. Jimmy Lozano

    Thank you for confirming my theory…
    The comments on DICE blog DON’T HELP at unemployed to get a REAL JOB.
    Is very funny, but at the same time is very hard realize that many of these articles has a title: “I can help you find a job”, but in the context of the same article has many contradictions-mistakes-lies-etc. only in the order to “justify a good job”.
    I can really understand why the writers of these articles and the supposedly professional helpers make all these kind the comments try to defend his/her articles/comments with this kind of job (recruiters)…
    But, when they try to convince at the innocent people that they can help them with “Their Technics” to find a job and just only confusing them with a possible situations or making scribbling on their resumes… THEN… I get mad… because they are seems these peoples like STUPIDS persons who believes they will find the dream job.
    So… since I realize that the situation in the economic-jobs in USA is worst since 2008 when the recession began (and still going), and when I try to find a REAL HELP to find a REAL JOB and realize that the situation is not going to change… AT LEAST I’m trying to help at the persons with my comments telling them the TRUTH about the searching jobs in this moment.

    But… when the supposedly recruiters said:
    —-“” I agree that it is difficult to sell your skills to an employer when they can’t check your references to confirm them. “”—-
    —-“” I can’t guarantee that the next 10 public sector hiring managers won’t disagree with me. “”—
    —-“” Continue arguing with me if you like, but I’m not arguing back. “”—-
    What do you think…???
    Let alone what the writer said…. is more confusing to me…
    —-“” Your anger, frustration and sense of hopelessness just aren’t playing out here on this comments board, but a hint of this toxic behavior it could also potentially seep through in a job interview. “”—-

    Once Again… these KIND of comments will help ANYONE to find a job…???

    • jcpopescu

      Hi Jimmy,

      Such comments don’t.

      I think a lot of what’s posted as career advice on DICE and other online portals is nothing more than KorpoRATe propaganda, ego stroking, and indulging, for lack of better words, professional exhibitionist tendencies.

      My bottom line: If you can read and understand my resume than it’s just fine. If whatever sofware you’re using fails then I’m no more to blame for the faults of your software than the car is for your poor driving skills. I didn’t earn my degrees writing like a chimp with a fast crayon.

      As yourself I’m throwing my perspective, experience, and opinions out there. Don’t like ’em ? Don’t read ’em. Life IS THAT SIMPLE.

    • jcpopescu


      I think what we are witnessing is the classic irrelevant, incompetent, and immaterial.

      I’m beyond certain International Solutions, UCSF, and EA have their own self-imposed and self-inflicted barriers to otherwise finding the talent they complain there’s a shortage of.

      Rather than address and correctTHOSE problems first they turn right around and, as you put it, scribble all over a resume and call it a “makeover”. A good analogy would be correcting a misfiring car belching smoke with the suggestion it needs a new paint job and interior detailing.

      Paint the car, paint the car ! Ignore the backfiring and smoke. Just paint the car ! Paint it a pretty red !

      Ho hum…

  9. jcpopescu

    Just a thought….

    Turnabout is fair play. Instead of all this “resume makover” and pacifier “career advice” let’s get right down to the brass tacks and right where the wheel meets the road.


    What can a given company do for me as a job seeker ? Do they offer a healthy life and work balance and even go as far as implement and enforce company policy to this end ?

    Do they offer the chance to actually USE my background and knowledge or just another exercise in sating the dogma of a technically inept and ignorant IT or department manager thinking themselves a feudal lord ?

    Whole suggestion is: Instead of this resume makeover let’s have an EMPLOYER MAKEOVER !

    Alas I know it will NEVER be done or even considered. DICE would have a hissy fit and the KorpoRATe apologists and acolytes would find themselves subject of a verbal mauling.

  10. The Heretic

    Let me give you an example of resume advice that would actually be useful to IT job seekers in the long term because it defines the problems correctly. The goal is not to get hired, but to get past the impactions and talk face to face with the employer so you can get hired. My advice to writing resumes in the current labor dynamics is that you are going to need hundreds of different resumes each targeting a specific problem and purpose always at your personal expense.

    The two biggest obstacles to employment are the resume mills and the head hunters. The resume you post on resume mills need to be twenty pages long and it does not need to make any sense what so ever. All it needs to be is a header with contact information and a very long list of key words.

    The next group of resumes is for the head hunters. Head hunters are nothing but salespeople masquerading as labor experts. They are agents dealing in human trafficking. The key word search resume will get you on their call list and it is not much good for anything else they probably will not even see your actual resume. The problem here is that the technical recruiter business model has given them in aggragate almost a total monopoly on employer access.

    Job search is like peeling an onion you have to peel off a lot of layers to get thru. The head hunters are the biggest obstacle you have. Unlike the computer word searches they are fallible with human precession. Without a mechanism to hold them accountable for denying you access to the labor pool, they are going to cost you a fortune in opportunity costs dealing with their incompetence and their business model which doesn’t suit prototypers at all. The model is better suited to stealing the competitions employees if they are using the same technology.

    The head hunters in aggregate are responsible for most of the fake job listings, the duplicate listings, and sociological muggings that ware you down to the point of accepting whatever wage is on their list or not moving at all. They are sales agents for the employer with zero fiduciary duty to the job seeker and are acting in their principles best interests. In aggregate they are more responsible for driving up the cost of market entry then any other source.

    My advice for dealing with head hunters is to automate the process. Don’t give your phone number to the resume mills and force them to make first contact thru email. Then automatically send a response requesting a copy of the job listing they are supposedly trying to fill and have them send the reply to another email account. The second account is the list you will work from. If you are interested in a position, cut and past the listing into a resume and send it back to them. You are everything they are looking for period the end.

    Now that you have gotten past the first two hurtles, write the real resume which you are going to custom tailor and hand the employer on the first interview. That is the one you can follow the advice given above. When confronted about discrepancies, be prepared with a carefully tabulated summation of all the time you spent from the beginning of their process to the end and multiply it times your current hourly plus all actual expenses. Include estimated travel time to the interview, time posting the listing, time wasted with the head hunter, and everything else. I’d have it in a spread sheet to hand them if they question your discrepancy. The point is that they are not paying the cost so for them it does not exist. You want them to know how much you were willing to pay for their position and how much you have gone thru to talk to them. You and every other applicant are paying for access almost exclusively; time, effort, and materials. Make it work for you. You have your foot in the door past the impactions so sell yourself and if everyone is doing it then it will become the standard.

    The fact is they are not going to change the process unless it starts costing all of them in aggregate. By automating the process (like they did to you) and handing them the real resume personally you are shifting costs back on them (like they did to you).

    You probably will not get the position this way until it becomes a standard because the extraordinary steps you were willing to take might be considered lying. On the other hand, you will have the satisfaction of evening out the playing field just a little and if you are currently employed who cares. They certainly don’t. The fact is that they are not being reasonable or respectful. Do you really want to start a labor relationship on that footing? It shouldn’t surprise anyone if they disrespect you the whole time you work there. It is easy to do once they get the ball running.

    IT and medical workers are in a unique position with regards to labor market dynamics because there are perpetual shortages for people with the right pedigrees. It is not an even playing field, the advantage is all yours. The other side is bluffing and tenderizing you with their process. It is a nightmare of their making for their benefit. If they are filling positions at the price they are offering the process is working FOR THEM perfectly. The costs are all yours to bare.

    In just about every other market place, you have brokers on both sides of the transaction. It is fairer that way. In the IT labor market the agents all work for the employers. It is a one sided equation. You need to find creative ways to even out the equation. You cannot keep doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.

  11. The Heretic

    As someone who has been studying IT labor dynamics for over a decade I have a unique perspective. By removing myself from the labor market, I’ve been able to define the cause of the impactions fairly well. As any engineer will tell you the first step to fixing something is to correctly define the problem.

    This is not as easy as it sounds. It is like getting something done in Washington. There are special interests everywhere trying to protect their business models and nothing gets fixed. This labor market is a complex combination of competing business models. The internet has fundamentally profoundly changed the nature of the IT labor market.

    There are no central clearing houses for jobs anymore. I know Dice tried to fulfill this role but failed because excessive profits create ruinous competition and other business models developed that turned job search into a mugging process. Consequently, job seekers must search hundreds of sites with numerous geographic scopes and duplicate listings everywhere. This has driven the market entry costs thru the roof.

    Time is money and none of this is free. There are costs associated with every aspect of job search. Unfortunately, due to the various business models that have developed in the last two decades, most of these costs have been shifted onto the job seekers. With that shift the other side of the equation has become reckless driving entry costs into the stratosphere. It is easy to do when someone else has to pay the price.

    Economists call this behavior externalizing costs and only the job search hacks would say this is a good thing. Now the special interests what to protect their profit model in the face of rising descent. We are seeing this descent being expressed right here on this thread and it is enormous. If you think these models are not going to get legislated out of existence eventually, than you don’t know the history of labor movements in this country. History does repeat it’s self over and over.

  12. Some very insightful comments here, very astute summaries, jcpopescu, heretic, and others. Both here and in other related discussion threads I have read. Naturally, those “down in the trenches” have the best insight as to what is going on, and I think a lot of what has been posted in the comments here is spot-on.

    Dice, I do appreciate what you try to do here, and your service has helped my career in the past by allowing employers and others to locate my resume. However, you are currently fighting a losing battle with the content on your site which promotes IT careers and provides advice to job-seekers.

    The only role you can possibly play at this point to actually HELP IT job-seekers, given current conditions in this labor market, is to focus on employers. Indeed, they are the side of this “two-way street” that needs the help at this point. Rather than continuing to try to give advice to the job-seeker about how to circumnavigate and undermine the ineffective, disillusioning and sometimes downright predatory practices of the typical IT employer or recruiter (i.e. shifting the massive cost of job search from company HR departments to job-seekers, resume key-word searches, etc – all the things that are discussed here with regularity), you need to focus on helping employers understand how to find good employees.

    So who’s got the “Dice Advice” for employers? I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a demographic so badly in need of advice in an aggregate sense. By the way, I am an IT employer myself – ok I only have 2 employees (and no, I’m not hiring – don’t I wish business was that good), but they are 2 of the best and brightest folks I’ve ever had the privilege of working with in my career. Yes, apparently I’m the one guy who still knows how to hire… and nary a recruiter or “key-word search” was involved (hmm… blasphemy to some perhaps?).

    Really, with the level of unemployment in our field and the huge number of people in this country with education, skills, and experience in IT, it is NOT hard to find good employees any more than it is in any other field. Quite the contrary, this field is absolutely brimming with talented folks looking for jobs. Indeed, there is no reason you need to offshore, bring in foreign consulting firms to replace your domestic IT staff, or search for some elusive and/or non-existent “rock star” (heh) candidate. The talent is out there, figure out how to go get it, its really not that hard. And trust me, PLEASE – someone who has a strong skill in one area (language, dev tool, OS, etc) CAN learn similar or related technologies VERY QUICKLY if they are intelligent – go ahead and interview them to find out, you’ll be glad you did…

    • Hi all, this is Roberta Fricker and I wanted to thank everyone for weighing in and giving this pilot project attention and feedback. I also give Dawn Kawamoto, Dice Editor, the recognition she deserves for managing all of it.
      In a week or two I want to provide a snapshot of the tools and strategies I have used, before and after this project. I want to share anything that can help all of us get to where we’re targeting ourselves.
      I can say with confidence that I have tried a wide variety of techniques on all topics from the resume tweaks, job fairs-virtual and live, networking, tech recruiters, user groups, job clubs, job placement techie schools like Set Focus, linkedin inmails, cold calling, database research for employer demographics, and a few other unique approaches like this project.
      Ultimately, all of us want to know, how to get the J-O-B. My word is good, I’m happy to share, and I’m confident that everyone will benefit in some way. So, keep an eye out, it’s coming soon.
      One of the main reasons I am on the Programmer trail? Because I want the end user to have an easier and more efficient experience. That includes the end users on this site.
      C U soon, Code Chick

  13. David L

    Much of the problem is overpaid recruiters and HR personnel that know nothing of the job, bur are gate keepers. I am an engineer, not an IT person, but when I was involved in a hiring situation at my company, the resumes came from a recruiting agency. Most of the resumes did not show the kind of expertise we were looking for. I don’t care how the resume is organized, if it is in word or PDF or txt. Does it show the knowledge and level of experience required.
    I too have brought in a laptop with my programs, and no one wanted to look at it. They did look at my printouts of screen shots and data files, though. That seems to have worked, as I got that job. Best to come prepared for what ever.