IT Resume Woes... What are your frustrations with this self-written sales letter?

roninkaironinkai Senior MemberSan DiegoMember Posts: 305 ■■■■□□□□□□
I'm asking this question because I know what my "woes" and pain points are. I wasn't a hiring manager, but as a SME, I looked at a lot of resumes and quite frankly, writing a decent resume seems to be a 'lost art' in the IT field. Only a handful of people seem to do it well. Here are some of the issues I've either experienced myself, or have seen come across my desk:

Issues with the Resume:
  • In general, IT/Tech people aren't sales people. Many are introverts and don't have the first clue about writing about themselves in a compelling and fluid manner that makes people take notice.
  • IT people tent to write in task based format (ie: duties and tasks included ....) I've rarely seen people deviate from this and go with the results based approach.
  • Tech keywords are stuffed to trigger the job board matches, but often don't align with actual job reqs. For example, IT people tend to put "RHEL 6, Win10, etc". But recruiters don't search this way, nor are the job descriptions written like this. They spell it out "Red Hat Linux 7 / Windows 10, etc". This could be the cause of missed opportunity.
  • Resumes are bland, all look alike, and rarely stand out. In my opinion, a little bit of outside the box thinking could go a long way and get a better response rate.
  • I've seen Ok to great resumes, but people have often forgotten valid contact info. (no wonder you aren't getting calls)
Issues with Resume Maintenance:
  • In IT, we learn a new skill, get a new cert, or change jobs (sometimes often). Now we have to update our Word formatted resume, PDF, Plain Text, Taleo board, LinkedIN, Indeed, etc, etc. 
  • Each job board wants the resume uploaded into their database in addition to having a downloadable format. This is so frustrating. I find a great job I want to apply for, but now I need to spend 20-30 min copying/pasting each cert/job into their fields, when I have all my details in the uploaded Word doc.
  • Refreshing the layout/design/content of the resume ever few years is often a challenge and a drag, as "Word" isn't the best editor, but is the defacto standard format requested. 
  • Tailoring a resume for a specific job can be cumbersome resulting in wasted time playing with formatting to make it all 'fit'.

Now there are plenty of resume writing services out there, but are they any good? Do they understand the IT market and "how" we should be selling ourselves and the proper formats to use? If there were some template, guide, or tool to remove all of these pain points, or at least reduce them, would that be useful? I'm thinking it might be. I know I dread the "resume update weekend" for the reasons stated above. I'd love to come up with a way to spend less time editing and more time job hunting....

The resume submission process is another area I won't get into here. Once you hit submit, it's usually waiting game and a blackhole
to know where you stand. Some transparency with these job boards would be awesome!

Just throwing it all out there as I'm sure I'm not alone.





浪人 MSISA:WGU
ICP-FDO ▪ CISSP ▪ ECES ▪ CHFI ▪ CNDA ▪ CEH ▪ MCSA/MCITP ▪ MCTS ▪ S+
2020 Level Up Goals: (1) DevSecOps Learning Path (2) OSCP

Comments

  • LonerVampLonerVamp OSCP, GCFA, GWAPT, CISSP, OSWP, AWS SA-A, AWS Security, Sec+, Linux+, CCNA Cyber Ops, CCSK Member Posts: 515 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Here's my hot take. If someone wants to be in management or sales-adjacent someday, they write things from a results-based approach, or how much money some task saved a business. So yeah, IT folks in the trenches talk about the duties they've done and know how to do so the manager knows what to expect.

    For the bland resumes, I honestly don't care. I'm hiring a person to do a job, not the resume which makes me feel good when I read it. Others will certainly be different, but I honestly hope people I work around are not that superficial. Some of the best classic technical docs I've read were bland text files...

    Contact info is an absolutely interesting topic today. I still see resumes with home addresses on them, phone numbers, and of course email addresses. I've personally stopped putting my home address years ago, and I typically leave off my phone number unless I know where my resume is actually going. If we're talking recruiters, they replace that stuff with their own contact info anyway. Base minimum, I make sure people can get to my LinkedIn and email address. If I were more extroverted and looking to network out there with randos, sure, I'd spread my phone number around. But I don't answer the phone on the first take anyway, let alone really enjoy meeting randos. :) Heck, I probably respond to 1 out of 20 recruiters that hit me up on LinkedIn.


    Earlier in my career (we're talking 2000's), I would list down technology that I knew from Operating Systems, to certain networking gear, to major enterprise software to security software suites and tools I was familiar enough to claim workable knowledge about. A couple decades later, I still like these lists, but they definitely get stale. Today's McAfee ePO is different from the one 10 years ago. Same with Windows Server 2003 vs Windows Server 2019. I really do like when people make these lists of tools and software they know, not so much to see the claim of it, but it gives me an idea of what they respond to, what they probably are interested in.

    Point is twofold: Keeping that list up to date sucks. It's awful, and never feels great. Second, the longer you're in the industry, the less it is about knowing how a particular product works, and more that you know the function it provides. If you know one IPS or one firewall or one SEIM, you can pick up others quickly.

    (On the flip side, I really hate the lists of soft and business skills. Good Communicator. Attention to Detail. Things like that are fluff, and they're not something I can dig into or verify satisfactorily in even a 2-hour interview process.)


    Since we're talking resumes, my biggest pet peeve today is the fetishizing of 1-page (or 2-page) resumes to the point of leaving off interesting and potentially important information. Screw that. If someone has 3 pages, let them live life free and happy.



    Security Engineer/Analyst/Geek, Red & Blue Teams
    OSCP, GCFA, GWAPT, CISSP, OSWP, AWS SA-A, AWS Security, Sec+, Linux+, CCNA Cyber Ops, CCSK
    2020 goals: AWS Security Specialty, maybe AWAE or SLAE, CISSP-ISSAP?
  • roninkaironinkai Senior Member San DiegoMember Posts: 305 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited January 9
    Yes, I too hate the 1-2 page 'rule'. I'm at 5 and it hasn't hurt me one bit. I have a background in marketing and used to write long page sales copy. I figure, if pages 1-2 catches attention, you'll continue reading down the page (skimming, granted). My edu/certs are actually on page 4, and I get asked about specific certs so I know its working.

    And like you, toward the top I put high level competencies like "Agile Project Management, Virtualization, SecDevOps". This will usually catch the recruiter. Then toward the bottom are all the specifics like specific DevOps tools, Virtualization platforms etc, to target the hiring manager and of course trigger the ATS on keywords.

    I swear, having a background in IT and Internet Marketing has been interesting and beneficial for my career. Keyword optimization, the use of color and typography, social proof, eye targeting techniques (magically F), and value driven words are things I started experimenting with long ago. I thought "This **** works wonders on websites for getting conversions (ie: Calls), let's try it on my resume". Results = phenomenal. 

    Another challenge I think recruiters and hiring managers have is that the people in the cyber field are somewhat elusive. We like privacy. We know what a social engineer can do with our info. We don't want all of our personal **** flying around the interwebs, only to later be used for a fishing attack. I dont' think many recruiting firms and hiring teams understand this when seeking talent.

    Imagine a privacy focused job board, now that would be something.

    浪人 MSISA:WGU
    ICP-FDO ▪ CISSP ▪ ECES ▪ CHFI ▪ CNDA ▪ CEH ▪ MCSA/MCITP ▪ MCTS ▪ S+
    2020 Level Up Goals: (1) DevSecOps Learning Path (2) OSCP
  • LordQarlynLordQarlyn Member Posts: 650 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Both of you make some very great points. IT people are not the most elegant nor attention grabbing writers. In reality, a CV should be written by a marketing expert with enough knowledge of IT to put a chic cool spin on our job descriptions and accomplishments. I've had the same experience you had reviewing CVs plus the added bonus of reading CVs by non Americans. Try reading and following CVs written by people from India or Pakistan or Kenya or the Philippines or Eastern Europeans, which ignore almost all accepted resume/CV standards, leave out important information, and almost look like they were written in some random order. Ironically THESE CVs seem to get through our ATS while those submitted by American or European applicants seem to get stuck in electronic limbo. Honestly I hate our ATS, when someone manages to find my work email and emails me to apply, I'm more inclined to review their qualifications and if it looks like their background and skills are a match, I tell them to apply as normal, company requirements, and send a quick email to the recruiting to look out for that application and forward it to me.
    You're right about abbreviating. Abbreviations tend to be overlooked by most ATS, especially Taleos, iCIMS, and Workday. It's better to write out in full on the CV. You have to avoid keyword stuffing of course but at the same time you have to be sure the skills in the job description appear enough that your CV matches enough to alert a recruiter or hiring manager. Also, some ATS can be set to scan for number of years of experience for a particular skill or platform, and it calculates that by reading the career history on the CV and adding up based on the keyword appearances in the each job and length of each job. If you only list a skill in a separate skills section or your introduction, that ATS will only count you as having 6 months or a year of experience in that skill, while if you list that skill in each job you had and you been working say 10 years, the ATS will count you as having 10 years of experience in that skill.
    Soft skills should be shown, not told. I agree. Yet, again, thanks to the ATS and job descriptions listing soft skills as requirements, failing to have them on your CV could end up with your CV being overlooked. I try to put them in my organically just for the benefit of the ATS.
    Networking (the people kind, not routers and switches kind) still remains one of the most effective ways to get a new job. I would say half my jobs were because I had a network that helped me. If you can get the name and email of the hiring manager, that's your best chance to get the job. Sending them your CV/resume with a well written cover letter that should not be a regurgitation of your CV but tell a brief story relating your background to the job, most hiring managers will be fine with that, indeed, some would welcome that. You may still need to apply through the company portal but at least you have an edge.
    Tweaking for each job you apply for is a pain in the ***. But again, unless you can get in touch directly with the hiring manager, you're going to go through an ATS. Here is an example, I tweaked my CV for an IT Operations Manager job, got it up to 89% match, where as 80% is typically the threshold the ATS sends out an alert to a human. Then I compared it to three other IT Manager / IT Operation Manager jobs advertised. Despite having similar roles and responsibilities, as the first one, despite an 89% match, despite similar skill and experience requirements, all three jobs returned in the high 40s percentage match. Tweaking is a necessary evil these days if you apply on job boards or company websites.

  • LordQarlynLordQarlyn Member Posts: 650 ■■■■■■□□□□
    Oh and speaking of number of pages and tweaking. Something I started doing which has made tweaking less tedious, is I've created a "master" CV. Essentially, when I have tweaked sentences or bullet points, I've copied them to this master CV, which I don't care how big it gets, since it will never be sent out. When I need to tweak, I open a regular CV and the master, and cut and paste items that relate to what the job posting is looking for. I'm still always tweaking individual components, but at least with this resource, it makes tweaking go by a little quicker.
  • roninkaironinkai Senior Member San DiegoMember Posts: 305 ■■■■□□□□□□
    edited January 9
    I do something similar. I now 'version control' my resumes in BitBucket as crazy as that sounds. Too many mistakes made when moving things around. Plus again, I hate Word with a passion.
    浪人 MSISA:WGU
    ICP-FDO ▪ CISSP ▪ ECES ▪ CHFI ▪ CNDA ▪ CEH ▪ MCSA/MCITP ▪ MCTS ▪ S+
    2020 Level Up Goals: (1) DevSecOps Learning Path (2) OSCP
  • roninkaironinkai Senior Member San DiegoMember Posts: 305 ■■■■□□□□□□
    One technique that has helped me over the past few years in keeping the resume up to date is keeping monthly logs of 'new skills, experience, and tasks'. Usually I'll update the resume once a year, and without this list, I'd be racking my brain to trying to remember what I did that previous year, often missing things. 
    浪人 MSISA:WGU
    ICP-FDO ▪ CISSP ▪ ECES ▪ CHFI ▪ CNDA ▪ CEH ▪ MCSA/MCITP ▪ MCTS ▪ S+
    2020 Level Up Goals: (1) DevSecOps Learning Path (2) OSCP
  • LordQarlynLordQarlyn Member Posts: 650 ■■■■■■□□□□
    LOL I am used to Word and its quirks and annoyances. I have to use it so often that I'm numb. However I will probably check out BitBucket, your method sounds like a good idea. And yes, we all should be logging what we did, especially quantifiable accomplishments, but even skills, training, projects. Because, same here, I forget things, sometimes important things, sometimes things very relevant to jobs I am applying for. Doesn't me we should put all of them on the resume, just the ones that are the best match for the job we are applying for. And the items we couldn't fit, that can go in the cover letter if there is a chance to submit one.
  • roninkaironinkai Senior Member San DiegoMember Posts: 305 ■■■■□□□□□□
    You dont have to use BitBucket. You can do the same thing with Dropbox technically. But BitBucket will show you a diff, where as I dont think that's possible in Dropbox. It just shows older versions.
    浪人 MSISA:WGU
    ICP-FDO ▪ CISSP ▪ ECES ▪ CHFI ▪ CNDA ▪ CEH ▪ MCSA/MCITP ▪ MCTS ▪ S+
    2020 Level Up Goals: (1) DevSecOps Learning Path (2) OSCP
  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,000 ■■■■■■■■□□
    edited January 10

    Issues with the Resume:
    • Resumes are bland, all look alike, and rarely stand out. In my opinion, a little bit of outside the box thinking could go a long way and get a better response rate.
    This is exactly why I decorate my resume with flowers and unicorns.
    • IT people tent to write in task based format (ie: duties and tasks included ....) I've rarely seen people deviate from this and go with the results based approach.
    And Highlight all my screw ups? Yea that will get me the job.
    • I've seen Ok to great resumes, but people have often forgotten valid contact info. (no wonder you aren't getting calls)
    What do you mean my America Online email is invalid?
    • Tech keywords are stuffed to trigger the job board matches, but often don't align with actual job reqs. For example, IT people tend to put "RHEL 6, Win10, etc". But recruiters don't search this way, nor are the job descriptions written like this. They spell it out "Red Hat Linux 7 / Windows 10, etc". This could be the cause of missed opportunity.
    I just do a keyword search for cool tech sounding words, if I don't know what they mean, recruiters certainly aren't, but man are they ever impressed. Six Sigma Cert? Of course i have that, even the G.I. Joe: Sigma 6 action figure! On a serious note, one Hiring manager made up need experience on a fake software on a job posting and people submitted applications with experience in that program. It's not what you know, it's knowing how to BS.
    • Now we have to update our Word formatted resume
    My resume is written in Wordstar, I have to fire up my IBM Model 5150 every time i need to update it.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • LordQarlynLordQarlyn Member Posts: 650 ■■■■■■□□□□
    My resume is written in Wordstar, I have to fire up my IBM Model 5150 every time i need to update it.

    I guess I better get with the times! I'm still using Apple Writer to write my resume.
  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,000 ■■■■■■■■□□
    LonerVamp said:
    Since we're talking resumes, my biggest pet peeve today is the fetishizing of 1-page (or 2-page) resumes to the point of leaving off interesting and potentially important information. Screw that. If someone has 3 pages, let them live life free and happy.


    My resumes so long i have it split into chapters.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • TechGromitTechGromit GSEC, GCIH, GREM, Ontario, NY Member Posts: 2,000 ■■■■■■■■□□
    edited January 10
    I've had the same experience you had reviewing CVs plus the added bonus of reading CVs by non Americans.

    No sure what Consumer Value Stores has to do with the current discussion. Try to stay on topic.
    You're right about abbreviating. Abbreviations tend to be overlooked by most ATS, especially Taleos, iCIMS, and Workday. It's better to write out in full on the CV.

    Like writing CV instead of saying Curriculum Vitae? Do as i say not as i do.
    Still searching for the corner in a round room.
  • LordQarlynLordQarlyn Member Posts: 650 ■■■■■■□□□□
    My resumes so long i have it split into chapters.
    I've organized my resume in to volumes.

    Like writing CV instead of saying Curriculum Vitae? Do as i say not as i do.
    I'm writing for forums not ATS so I can abbreviate to my heart's content.

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