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7 mistakes to avoid when applying for that tech job

In this economy, even having the experience may not be enough

By Greg Schaffer
February 20, 2009 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - My eyes are blurry from reviewing over 40 résumés for a network administrator position, and for good reason. More than half of the résumés did not make it past my initial review. While I had to reject some candidates because of lack of experience (or, rather, lack of clearly demonstrated required experience), others had errors in their application packages that lowered their ranking -- errors that could have been easily corrected.

(And yes, I literally do rank résumés, based on years and type of experience but also on other nontechnical variables such as communications ability.)

Of course, the traditional job-seeking advice still applies. Always follow résumé best practices -- proper spelling, good organization, consistent font and so on. Realize, too, that if you simply do not meet the required minimum experience, it's very unlikely that you will win the job. Beyond that, if you avoid these all-too-common mistakes that I have seen over years of filling network administrator positions, you'll boost your chance of landing the job.

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Mistake 1: Your objective is unclear

When I review résumés for a network administrator position, if the applicant chooses to include a section about his objectives, I hope to see something related to networking. Likewise, managers filling spots for security, databases, Web development and other specialties are looking for specifics that show a candidate is a good fit for the job. However, I often see nonsensical statements such as, "I'm seeking an interesting and challenging career position." This conveys very little.

Instead, something directly related to the position you're seeking would be appropriate. Suppose, for example, that you applied for a network administrator job at a community college. "Utilizing my experience to expand and maintain the network to enhance the pedagogical mission of the college" says that you see this as a challenge and that you understand the business of the place you are applying to.

This leads to two subpoints. First, whenever possible, show you understand how technology affects the business. Second, decide if an objective section is really necessary. Some people opt to substitute a short description of their professional offerings, which, if done well, can effectively convey both your goals and understanding of the business as well as serve as a snapshot of your most desirable skills.

Mistake 2: You've listed old skills

I'd like to say it has been some time since I've received a résumé that listed in a skills section "Windows 3.11 for Workgroups," but unfortunately it hasn't. At least it's been a while since I've seen DOS 3.2 referenced.



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