CIS Grad Needs a More Specific, Customized Resume

Dice's Resume MakeoverMosab Sasi recently received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from the Metropolitan State College of Denver. He’d like to work in software development, preferably with Java or databases. He was shot gunning the job market with little success but now, after meeting with his college career center hearing from two IT hiring managers with Azaleos, he’s taking a more strategic approach, which includes customizing his resume to fit each opportunity.

Mosab met the hiring managers by participating in our resume makeover series.

The Reviewers

Seattle-based Azaleos provides managed email, collaboration and unified communications services in private cloud, on-premise or mixed deployment architectures. John Allan, director of Product Management and did Patrick Naughton, vice president of Engineering, separately reviewed Mosab’s resume to make their critiques.  Their findings were relayed to us by Azaleos Senior Recruiter Christine Novak.

The 10,000-Foot View

At first glance, Mosab’s resume looked crowded, said Novak. There were too many bullets and the font seemed small. She suggested he create a visually appealing document by eliminating extraneous information, inserting white space between sections and using 10- or 11-point type.

Reviewers assume job seekers want to work in a professional environment, says Novak, so Mosab should mention specific goals and the position he is seeking in his objective statement. And since IT reviewers automatically assume that recent grads have limited hands-on experience, she suggested he emphasize the technologies he knows best and eliminate words like “exposure,” which could make him seem tentative or unsure of his skills.

Some other observations:

  • Ask someone who knows grammar to proofread your resume.
  • Any tech skills in your summary should also be included with your work experience, to show how you put them to use.
  • Omit unrelated skills and experience like typing speed and add more bullets to your IT jobs.

Deep Dive

Here’s John Allan’s marked-up copy of Mosab’s resume, with the key comments below it.

  1. Kudos for including a QR code.
  2. By listing multiple jobs in his objective, Mosab seems unclear about his goals and  the position he is seeking. His resume lacks focus. Instead, he should tailor it toward the company and specific job opening.
  3. Cross-reference the skills in your summary with your work experience, so the hiring manager can see how you’ve used a particular program. For example, HTML/CSS is listed in Mosab’s work history but not in his technical skills summary. Also, VS 2010 is misclassified as a programming language and DOS should be omitted since it’s no longer relevant.
  4. This experience bullet should begin with an action verb like “implemented.” Other bullets in this section need rewording as well.
  5. This business title is unclear. Were you a computer lab technician, a computer lab technical associate, or an assistant?
  6. This section contains too much information. Highlight your promotions and the skills that apply to the job you’re seeking and omit irrelevant experience like cold calling and invoice processing.
  7. Will you really be a new business marketing consultant until January 20010, or is that a typo?
  8. This sentence is full of jargon, rambles and doesn’t make sense. Provide a clear, concise summary of your responsibilities.
  9. When did Mosab start college as well as when he finished.
  10. Include honors and memberships to organizations that are notable or relevant to employers, and offer an explanation of what they are.
  11. Note key contacts or recommendations — quotes are acceptable.

Another Set of Eyes

Here’s Patrick Naughton’s view.

  1. Use a specific job title like “software developer” or “DBA.”
  2. Classify sales experience as “people skills” or “persuasiveness” to make it relevant.
  3. Only list the programs you know best. Indicating that you have “exposure” shows a lack of confidence.
  4. Start bullets with an action verb.
  5. There’s no such thing as “basic” HTML.
  6. Highlight relevant experience in tech support.
  7. Uh oh, busted. Don’t copy directly from the company website. Use your own words to describe the company and your role.
  8. Unrelated and grammatically incorrect.
  9. Eliminate honor roll and stick with your GPA.

Lessons Learned

“I was a bit taken back by how many errors they found, but it was very helpful to see what I was doing wrong,” says Mosab. “Every new grad should jump at the chance to have their resume critiqued by a recruiter.” Since these reviews, Mosab’s incorporated many of the comments into his resume.

You can see the latest version of Mosab’s resume in Dice tech talk.

11 Responses to “CIS Grad Needs a More Specific, Customized Resume”

  1. James E. LaBarre

    I love how, when making great platitudes on how to brush up your resume, will always say something like “eliminate extraneous information”. Well, folks, just ***WHAT*** constitutes extraneous information? Always a whole lot of vague FLUFF in these articles, and absolutely NOTHING I can make practical use of. I guess it’s like the candidates the 2 “major” parties have propped up for us: they can tlk a lot, but they have no clue of what they’re talking *about*

    • Leslie Stevens-Huffman

      Dear James,

      Mosab should have omitted his cold calling experience for example, since DBAs aren’t required to do phone sales. He should also leave out invoice processing and opening the store since again, those aren’t typical job requirements for IT professionals. Instead, he should note his trustworthiness, maturity and reliability– since those are qualities that appeal to employers– and validate his claims by citing those examples in cover letters and interviews.

      Good luck.

    • Leslie Stevens-Huffman

      Dear By Total,

      Bullet points are very effective when used strategically. They catch the reviewer’s eye and help job seekers emphasize key points. Remember, you only have 30 seconds to make your case and score an interview.

      Good luck.

  2. The heretic

    I’m still laughing at the premise of this exercise in futility. At best, resume and cover letter writing is a tipping tool. In the IT sector, resumes are useless without a pedigree; three or more years of paid work experience with a very specific set of IN DEMAND SKILLS. In the current labor market there is no other alternative. If you have two applicants with essentially the same pedigree then writing skills might tip the scale, but more likely both will get interviewed and in some cases both will get offers. I can fill a pedigree resume with spelling and grammar errors. The right skill set will result in the phone ringing constantly for two days. In the tech sector, pedigrees matter and non-pedigrees need not apply.

    As part of my research, I’ve written thousands of resumes. I’ve hand delivered clean and pretty entry level resumes to recruiters just to get their responses. The cool ones expressed petty and others seem upset with me for my wasting their time. I’ve even had them crumbled them up and threw them away right in front of me. The IT labor market is brutal and with recruiters controlling access to the labor market, this kid is going to have to get a pedigree before wasting his precious time, money, and effort.

    Job search is expensive and finding an IT position without a pedigree is almost impossible and the internship was cruel councilor joke. Interns are the Rodney Dangerfield’s of the IT sector; they get no respect. If the organization was not willing to hire him after his training session (internship) then listing it can actually be a negative. In IT, interns must get a mentor willing to interrupt their routines to teach them, busy work is no substitute, and six months will not cut it. It is going to take two years minimum and he had better leave a full time employee that impressed his mentor enough to hire him.

    The brutal reality is he is going to have to move where the entry level IT positions are; India.

    The new reality of IT is graduating top of your class followed by two years in a third world country earning a marketable pedigree. IMHO, career councilors that don’t inform their students have done them a disservice. Welcome to the New World Order!