Getting a Job You Want

Introduction

At almost 80 years old, with what some may call a successful career in both Software Engineering and Management, I believe I can offer some advice regarding getting a job. I have, of course, written many resumes some of which were good and others fell flat. Also, as a manager, I have reviewed 100s of resumes and had to give a yes or no to whether the company needed to bring a candidate in for an interview. In this article I will try to present some opinions and rules applicable to presenting yourself in a resume, and some do's and don't during the interview. Some Human Resource departments suggest that you use one page resumes. Forget them. There is no way to present yourself on one page to a manager for whom you wish to work.

Rules and Suggestions

  1. Be Honest. The employer you want to work for looks for integrity in its employees.
  2. Write your own resume. Certainly there are professional resume writers that will take your money to write one for you. However, you are presenting yourself and the best way is to do it yourself.
  3. Have someone review it for spelling, grammar, and understandability. Don't change the style unless the criticism makes a lot of sense.

Process

Obviously getting the desirable job is, particularly a sometimes painful process. One piece of advice, among many, that I received from a seminar on getting a job when I was unemployed, was to consider the process a job and approach it as I would a regular job. It requires an investment of time and some cost. The steps are fairly straight forward.

  1. Preparation of Resume.
  2. Listing Targets to Send Resumes. Flooding the job market, even though required by misguided unemployment agencies and head-hunters, is not the best approach. Find employers for whom you would like to work and concentrate your efforts on them.
  3. Sending or Delivering Resumes. If you have a contact in a target hand deliver a resume to that contact. Often this is a way to bypass the Human Resource departments who have their own rules for evaluating candidates.
  4. Interview
  5. Dealing with Rejection Letters.
  6. Follow Up.

Resume

Consider the Resume as three separate sections, the Cover Letter, the Optional Information Page, and the Body of the Resume.

Cover Letter

In as much as possible, you should write a personal letter. If you know a management person in the department, address them as the relationship permits. If the association is casual, you may wish to explain how and when you met the manager. If referred by someone, let the manager know where you got his name. Letters to the Human Resources departments may be very short form letters giving the reviewer what kind of job you are seeking.

Optional Information Page

This page is essentially an advertisement and presents something unique. Pictures of completed projects are useful. Incidents during your life, or anything that may make an impression of the decision maker. One job I got was from a page I included with "Ten Reasons to Hire a 60 Year Old Programmer"

Resume Body

Again, remember this is a presentation of you. The following subjects and their order, are suggestions based on how I reviewed resumes. Often the section, while not required, made the difference in whether we called in a person for an interview. Pictures are useful. Even though not required, they help sell your capabilities. In addition to a picture of you, pictures of projects in the Notable Projects section can be useful.

Personal Information

  • Name
  • Picture
  • Address
  • Telephone Numbers (Home, Work, Cell)
  • Family (Married, Spouse, Children)

A short statement of what you wish to do.

List of Skills

The list should be brief and all skills in which you are highly skilled, experienced, trained, and exposed. For example, I could report that under highly skilled my skills are Python, C++, C, Pascal, Modula 2, Fortran, Assembler. Under experienced I could list CNC. Exposed, I could list Cobol and RPG.

Notable Projects

This is usually a departure from what HR departments usually evaluate. However, if the resume gets to the desk of a manager it tends to be the most important. It should include a project name, the objective of the project, and its results. If there is a $ savings to the company that can be estimated (one of my projects resulted in $1 million savings a year in producing a product), include that information. If the project resulted in better performance in a product, that also should be included. It is acceptable to list projects in which you were a member of a team, but outline your responsibilities.

Positions

Chronologically list positions and organizations for which you worked.

Available Tools

If you have a collection of tools that can be used, describe those. For example I now have a laptop computer with several development packages like Qt4, Qt5, and Arduino as well as several special Integrated Development Environments. Additionally I have 3 Raspberry Pi computers and one Teensy 3.1 microprocessor boards which I would list.

Additional Interests

Voluntary organizations, hobbies, what kind of music you like, sports activities.

Interview

I'm old fashioned. For professional employees I suggest a conservative suit or an outfit that is suitable for the position. For technical positions, clean well fitting cloths. Answer questions in as few words as possible. If the interviewer is working from your resume, as he should be, he should only be asking for clarification. Resist bad mouthing a previous employer, but answer the interviewers questions about your experience in previous positions. Take ownership of your failures as well as your successes, if asked.

Follow Up

No one bothers to deal with rejection. However, I suggest that after you are told there is no job for you and they used the tried rejection "We don't have a position at this time but we will keep your resume on file." Take them at their word and write a thank you for your consideration letter or email. Then, if you haven't received a job in a couple of weeks, send a package (Resume) again, mentioning your previous rejection.