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Technology resume gaffes to avoid

By Nimish Thakkar
November 11, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - The U.S. Department of Labor recently reported an astonishingly high unemployment rate of 6.1%. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 1.5 million people filed for unemployment claims from January through September 2008, the highest number since 2002. The technology sector has been no exception to this downward spiral, and it almost seems as though every other person we know is looking for work or at least "keeping their options open."

The availability of such a large pool of qualified applicants -- and an even greater reduction in the number of available jobs -- has caused an unprecedented shift in demand/supply dynamics in the employment market.

As understaffed HR gatekeepers struggle to handle the overflow of resumes from interested candidates, I wouldn't be surprised if most resumes get 10 to 15 seconds of attention, or even less. Antiquated resume-writing strategies will not work in current market conditions -- period.

As a career coach and professional resume writer, I review resumes written by thousands of professionals. Of the common (but devastating) resume gaffes, technology professionals are prone to make one or more of the following mistakes:

One-page resume myopia

From tech-support professionals to CIOs, almost everyone is consumed by the perception that the effectiveness of the resume is somehow linked to the length of the document. A one-page resume is not going to improve your chances, nor is a 10-page document indicative of super-employee status.

Candidates, even senior-level IT executives, often use microscopic fonts, leave off important information, use 0.1-inch margins, and resort to myriad ill-advised practices -- all in an attempt to curtail resume length. Many well-meaning college counselors advise their students to be concise and limit their resume to one page. That may be important for students with little or no experience, but why subscribe to the same wisdom after rising to higher ranks?

There is an opposing viewpoint. Some job seekers mistakenly believe that if they can somehow balloon their resumes to four or five pages, they will be considered for higher-paying positions.

The fact is, content rules. Your resume must be as long as your career history demands. If you have held only one job, don't try to create a five-page resume. But if your background merits a lengthier resume, then don't use microscopic fonts in a desperate attempt to fit everything onto one page.

If you're still concerned about the length of your resume, consider creating a one- or two-page resume with additional pages serving as an appendix or addendum. I have done that for many researchers and academicians. The first few pages focused on their backgrounds, while their publications and presentations were presented as an appendix.



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