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Writing an Effective Technical Resume

Quite some time ago, someone at the software development company where I work decided that we should create a web page with tips to help job applicants write good, compelling resumes. One of our human resource managers was given this task.

While we were waiting for him to finish his version, I needed to put something on our site as quickly as possible. I put a few very basic suggestions online, and they remained there for many weeks until the HR guy finished.

Frankly, once he was done, I thought my suggestions were way better than his. His sucked. He was a nice enough guy, but damn, I can't stand that HR-speak: it was full of pointless buzzword crap like "sell the sizzle!" and similar jibberish.

The beauty of having your very own web site is that you can do what you want. So, without further adieu, here are my own resume writing tips, and links to some other sites that provide basic information on seeking employment.

Oh, and if you really want to see some other Amazing Resume Stuff, take a look at our Great Resume Snippets page. All of them, every last one, is a verbatim excerpt from an actual resume or cover letter.

 

1. Put your experience first. It counts for far more than your educational background. If you don't have professional experience, write about the projects that you've done on your own time. Be detailed, and be specific. And if you have no professional experience, and you haven't done any projects on your own, dammit, do some. Show a little initiative.

2. Include contact information. Put your name, your address, your phone number, your email address, your fax number, your brother's fax number, and the name of the grocery store where you shop. Give them a way to get in touch with you. You would be amazed, truly AMAZED at how many resumes I have seen over the years that did not have anything but a name. No address, no phone number, nothing.

3. About your name... Well, even though I just told you to put it on your resume, exercise some common sense if you have one of those wacky names. For example, if your name is "Dick Hare," you really ought to think about going by "Richard."

4. Don't use clip art pictures of little dancing elves on your resume. The use of pictures of flying monkeys is also generally frowned upon.

5. Don't use stupid fonts. I hate those damn "ye merrie olde england" fonts. Trust me, everyone who reviews resumes all day long hates screwy fonts.

6. Don't add things to your resume unnecessarily. For example, if you were creating a list of some sort, it would be a bad idea to add something goofy just so that you had a list of ten things instead of a list of nine. I would never do that. Really. I swear.

7. Don't put your naked picture on your resume. That is, don't do it unless you are a gorgeous, nubile adult female. And even then, you have to be careful about not misusing it. In fact, it's really difficult to gauge when this is appropriate. I'm probably the only person who knows how to tell. Therefore, the only way to really know whether or not your naked picture should be on the resume is to send it to me, and I'll, uh, let you know. Yeah, that's what I'll do. I'll, uh, review it.

8. Proofread, poofread, poofread. Be sure to catch and correct all spelling errors, grammatical weaknesses, unusual punctuation, and inconsistent capitalization. Proofread it numerous times. And yes, I know that "proofread" is misspelled twice in this paragraph. It's a joke. I'm a funny little bastard.

9. Don't use those accent mark thingies. Sure, I know that the word "resume" is supposed to have one of those little marks over the final "e," but that is a pain in the ass, and not only do I not want to put it there myself, I kinda resent the fact that anyone else would put it there.

10. Don't say that you are looking for "an easy job which won't require bathing."