IT Hiring Manager Critiques Grad’s Programmer Resume

RevisedEarlier this week, Roberta Fricker, who recently earned a certificate in computer science from Santa Barbara City College in California, had her resume critiqued by a senior IT recruiter. Today, she hears from Erik Wieland, director of IT services for the University of California at San Francisco’s Department of Medicine.

Roberta is undergoing her second round of resume critiques, as part of our ongoing series of Resume Makeovers, where we connect job seekers with hiring managers and recruiters to get their feedback on what’s working, and what could use improvement.

Wieland, a 15-year veteran of UCSF’s IT department who currently manages a staff of a dozen people, offered Roberta feedback via a video conference call.

See our full series on Roberta’s resume critique:


The Big Picture

Wieland’s first recommendation was for Roberta to substantially restructure her resume. The introductory paragraph, currently labeled “Junior Level Programmer,” needs to be recast as “Summary,” or as a mini cover letter, he said.

After crafting the Summary and Key Qualifications sections, he thinks Roberta should move up the Education section and drop her Professional Experience to the third section. He also suggested Roberta include affiliations as her fourth section. “You want to build a picture of the complete package.”

He also proposed shortening the Key Qualifications section by using bullet points, and weaving her core competences — like time management and project management — into the bullet points.

The Deep Dive

Here’s Wieland’s detailed critique:

1: Remove the words “email” and “Web site.”

“(It’s like) saying you’re cool because you know people don’t need those words to figure it out and it tells (hiring managers) they’re cool too, because they can figure it out.”

2: Move page numbers to the bottom.

3: At the top of the resume, swap out the words “Junior Level Programmer” for “Summary.” The summary would serve as a mini cover letter.

“Make it about what you want to do, based on your experience, and not so much about what you have done,” says Wieland. In general, he says this is a good strategy for college grads to take, given that they often have little professional experience.

The summary should also include something like: “Team-player and motivated life learner  who is interested in a software programming position that calls for Java and C++ based languages.”

Wieland recommended removing the phrase “junior level” from the resume. “You diminish yourself in their eyes by using those words. Don’t worry. They’ll do it for you,” he said, noting that hiring managers will figure this out based on her level of experience.

4: Tell a prospective employer “what you can do for them” in the summary.

Move the computer science certificate and bachelor’s degree into the Education section.

5: Restructure resume: Summary; Key Qualifications first section; Education second section; Professional Experience, third section; and Affiliations fourth section.

6: Key Qualifications, or hard skills, should include soft skills from core competencies area.

7: Remove “coursework” from key skills.

8: Include screenshots of current projects.

9: Key Qualifications should include App/Web developer

10: List versions of HTML, CSS and Adobe Photoshop skills.

11: Remove Flash reference, because industry is moving away from it.

12: Remove “coursework” from SQL Server and Web Applications skills.

13, 14: Shorten Key Qualifications section and use bullet points.

15, 16, 17 & 18: Make “Technical Skills” just three bullets – Design skills; Web developer skills; and Platform Developer skills. Put appropriate languages and platform skills in one of the three bullets .

19: Professional Experience becomes third section.

“I really like her format of listing her company and role and noting her key accomplishments (per entry).”

20, 21:  Coursework goes under Education section, not Professional Experience.

Gaps in professional experience can be addressed by simply noting you were “enrolled in school” and listing the dates.

22: Move page numbers to bottom of page

23: Consolidate Aetna experience, because it’s the same title and role.

24, 25, 26:  Combine Core Competencies with hard skills in Key Qualifications section. Eliminate Core Competencies area.

Combine communication, organization and project management skills as one bullet point and includes an example of either an achievements that included all three, or one that demonstrates the strongest of the three.

27: Education becomes second section.

28: Move technology course to Education section.

29: Remove link to LinkedIn profile, because it has only four connections. Or, build up your social network.

People will judge you based on the size of your network and who your affiliations are, Wieland said.

30: Make Affiliations your fourth resume section.

Roberta’s Major Takeaways

“One of the biggest takeaways is that in the public sector I don’t need to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science to get a job,” Roberta said. She noted that Wieland thought her resume content was good — his theme was to rearrange it.

One bit of Wieland’s advice Roberta plans to pass on is removing the Flash video she created, even though Flash is falling out of favor in the industry. “I went to a lot of effort to make the Flash video,” she said, though she will, however, create a resume based on his other suggestions.

In Part III, Roberta hears from Rita Gordon, corporate talent acquisition manager of Electronics Arts.

12 Responses to “IT Hiring Manager Critiques Grad’s Programmer Resume”

  1. This series is just a great one for job seekers. Whether you agree with the critique or not, just seeing how different people evaluate the same resume is priceless. It also shows that our brilliance at creating resumes (in our own minds…) means nothing until it communicates well with a potential hiring manager.

    Please keep this up. A great service.

    • 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

      • fellow programmer

        Hi Code Chick,

        Good for you for putting yourself out there like this. I noticed a couple of things where I thought I might offer a couple of suggestions.

        The software field is immense. Find an area (e.g., web programming) you’re really passionate about and focus on it relentlessly. You can always change later when/if your interests shift, but it’s much easier to find work when you’re highly skilled in something. Focus.

        If you’re going to focus on being a web developer with some design cred and you list a website, it really should be polished. Look for inspiration from other websites (e.g.,,,, and innumerable books/videos on web design. Also, think of it in terms of showcasing your portfolio. See Scott Hanselman’s experience with hiring a web designer ( His designer is

        Finally, lose as much of an ego as you can. Not pride mind you, but ego. For example, the flash video on your site doesn’t work on my machine, so I can’t comment on its execution. However, judging by your quote in the article, it sounds like you are reticent to let it go because “you spent a lot of time on it”. I have spent countless hours on work that I had to toss out for one reason or another; that painful part of the process is a core part of our industry. However, the lessons you learn while doing, re-doing, re-doing, and re-doing again are invaluable. Iteration drives you to hone your craft. Don’t fret having to “archive” something you’re proud of; you will create something better.

        Good luck and happy programming! Personally I think you’re on the right track as to a career. It makes for a great career and leads to many life opportunities.

        a fellow programmer

  2. The Heretic

    This series is an exercise in futility. You have a hiring manager here. If you want to get to the bottom of why students, some graduating at the top of their class, like Anthony Peer are having such difficulty then you have to ask the right questions.

    The problem here is that this manager is not likely going to ever see that resume. That makes this advice a mute point. In his world it is irrelevant. He wants ready to go people to fill his position and he has an army of highly motivated ($35,000 + on a $100,000 a year employee) commission seeking muggers searching to the ends of the earth via the internet looking for an exact fit. The muggers thru their business model have monopoly control over market access and Anthony is not likely going to get thru at least not following this advice.

    If seasoned professionals with “the pedigree” who want the $35,000 added to their salaries, cannot get thru than what chance does our college new hire have? I’ve done labor market experiments on this very subject. I found a retired IT professional whose love for learning technology has him staying current even though he is out of the business. I had him work the code camps and user groups.

    This guy runs about 20 social websites mostly for charities for free using and SQL Server. He has not had one job offer in six years because he has refused to work with head hunters. We sent off over one thousand resumes this year along not including the ones he sent on his own. We had him do cold calls. Most importantly we had him document all of his search expenses. The conclusion we came to is that technical recruiters as an industry have a virtual monopoly on market access and they are driving market entry costs way up. The data from the resumes back up that assertion with over 96% of the listings controlled by technical recruiters. To put it in his words, “Who the hell anointed them god over my career?”

    My question for this IT manager is how exclusively does he use tech recruiters? A percentage of the time guest-a-meant would be fine?

    I would also like to know, if he could more easily find qualified people by paying the head hunter commission directly to them would you do it?

  3. I am wondering how Roberta was able to put a number or percentage to each one of her accomplishments, especially being a recent grad. For example: enabled cost saving of 40% a year. I am not a programmer, but I work in system administration and if I do something that increases efficiency I don’t get a call from accounting saying I saved the company x amount of money. I doubt they would even be able to give me a number if I did call them. I always hear people giving job advise tell you that you need to quantify your accomplishments, but unless you got a specific and verifiable number how would you do that? If you were never given the cost saving you’re putting a percentage of how much you saved on your resume is probably exaggerated speculation. When I see numbers like that on a resume I think it screams BS.

    I have no idea how much my efforts save the company, and in all of my IT jobs have never been privy to this information. That is my question to the dice gurus. How do you quantify all of your accomplishments? And for everyone else on this board, do you think it is necessary to quantify all of your accomplishments?

  4. Also, no one worth their salt in the IT world uses Hotmail (I can see it on the scan of the resume). Your grandmother uses hotmail because it has pretty emoticons — not IT professionals. Use Gmail or, better yet, get your own domain name and use that for your email.