The Web Gambit

Thoughts on Web Development

Developer resumes and pieces of flair?

Finding a new job can often be a daunting experience for a developer. Even very qualified professionals may jump through multiple hoops to get their resumes in front of the right people. Most of the smart applicants have figured out that the only realistic and pain-free way to get someone to see your resume is through a professional referral. However, even then you have to make your resume stand out among the masses. So everyone comes up with unique ways to grab the attention of the person looking at our resume. A colleague and fellow .NET developer recently asked me to review his resume prior to beginning a new job search. Here are two of his previous job descriptions as listed on his resume sans personal details:

Tech Company – Dallas, TX

  • Performed an architectural review of the existing BizTalk Server 2004 solution and made recommendations to improve performance, stability and manageability.

  • Consulted on several .NET projects to lend expertise in code-generation, unit testing, and object design.

Languages: C#, VB.NET, T-SQL

Server Products: BizTalk Server 2004, BizTalk Server 2006, SQL Server 2005, SQL Server 2000

Misc Technologies: XML, XSL, XSD, HTML, CSS, GIS, COM+, MTS, MSMQ

Tech Company 2 – Dallas, TX

  • Provide primary technical leadership for a small but growing company employing several contractors on a variety of projects.

  • .NET Framework (1.1 and 2.0) business viability analysis.

  • Technical consulting working with the .NET Framework

Languages: C# 2.0, VB.NET 2.0, ASP.NET 2.0, VB.NET, C#, ASP.NET, VB, ASP, TSQL, JavaScript

Server Products: BizTalk Server 2000/2002/2004/2006, SQL Server 2000/2005, FoxPro

Misc Technologies: AJAX, XML, XSL, XSD, HTML, CSS, COM+, MTS, NUnit

My immediate comments back to him mentioned that I felt he had too many acronyms on his resume to make his job descriptions readable. Additionally he was repeating the same acronyms multiple times and the developer inside me is screaming "Don’t Repeat Yourself". The response I got back was that this is now an accepted practice for developer resumes and recruiters/hiring managers prefer this format. Recruiters often scan for keywords and acronyms so seeing them multiple times somehow incites a more positive response with them. Another colleague reaffirmed this opinion, however he also added that it’s just a game that we have to play these days and that its a necessary evil.

Pieces of Flair

Apparently, tech acronyms have now become a software developer’s pieces of flair. I can think of only one quote that comes to mind: Doesn’t it bother you that you have to get up in the morning and you have to put on a bunch of pieces of flair? Thoughts?


5 responses to “Developer resumes and pieces of flair?

  1. Mark March 24, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Personally, a place who has the kind of manager who is purposely "scanning" for these terms, acronyms, and buzzwords, is not the kind of place I want to work at, honestly.
    I couldn’t agree with your flair analogy more.

  2. Karthik March 24, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I think the job market has gotten such that it’s becoming really difficult for the average hiring manager to find good candidates without spending considerable time outside of the work place (i.e. tradeshows, conferences, user groups).  Most of them have to turn to tech recruiters that have introduced these bad practices.
    My advice is to avoid Monster, Dice, etc if you want to avoid these kinds of recruiters/hiring managers.  Stick with professional referrals and avoid job postings.

  3. David O'Hara March 26, 2007 at 6:03 am

    I’ve been listening to the guys over at Manager Tools for a while now and they’ve had some great insights. The podcast on resumes (…/your-resume-stinks) was great and I updated my own resume using their tips. I can’t say that I’ve got anyone beating down my door to hire me (not really looking that actively) but it at least satisfied my "get to the point" perspective. I certainly agree with Mark – if that’s your hiring practice and you’re not willing to take the time to figure out if I’m the real deal or just full of hot air (and acronyms), I don’t want to be there.

  4. Karthik March 26, 2007 at 8:03 am

    Thanks for the link, Dave.  I’ll have to check it out later.
    I’ve been reaching out to all kinds of people about this issue.  Turns out a lot of people agree with us about the flair on the resume, including Atwood, Hanselman, and Haack.  Here’s hoping they put their .02 here where the rest of the world can see it :P
    And btw, I’m really surprised that no one’s beating their door down to hire you.  You make the rest of us look like .NET n00bs.

  5. Kalpesh March 30, 2007 at 7:03 pm

    Hi Karthik,
    I reached your site by link jumping from codebetter/scott.belaware.
    Good to see another .net developer
    I was hoping to see some of the .net tech posts on your site.
    BTW, how long have you been in US & do you develop s/w using agile methodologies?

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