April 2003 Archives

Predators, Prey and the Job Market

I'm reading The Logic of Failure by Dietrich Dörner. Here's a quote from the introduction.

Failure does not strike like a bolt from the blue; it develops gradually according to its own logic. As we watch individuals attempt to solve problems, we will see that complicated problems seem to elicit habits of thought that set failure in motion from the beginning. From that point, the continuing complexity of the task and the growing apprehension of failure encourage methods of decision making that make failure even more likely and then inevitable.

This book appeals greatly to the pessimist in me, but I'm hoping to learn something practical as well. If I can learn from the mistakes from others I can save myself some of the pain of learning the same things from personal experience.

On Crafting a Résumé

Like so many people, I am spending hours agonizing over my résumé. I had a couple of versions lying around, but nothing I could use. I had not had to seriously apply myself to it for years and I had forgotten how hard it is.

It helps to bear a few things in mind.

  1. A résumé will not get you a job. It will be used to screen you in or screen you out.
  2. In spite of this, a résumé is a sales tool
  3. You are writing for at least three audiences:
    • keyword scanners
    • recruiters
    • hiring managers and (sometimes) peers
  4. Nobody spends much time reading résumés: 30 seconds to a minute at most
I did learn some more specifics during a seminar given courtesy of my current employer.
  1. Objective is not a very useful section to have unless you are starting out in a new career. Summary lets you emphasize the qualities you already have.
  2. Keywords are what people are going to scan for first, so put them near the top. A Skills section takes care of that.
  3. References — are superfluous. Every recruiter knows that you have them and that they are "available on request", so don't waste the space.
  4. Some people say you should customize the résumé for every employer. If you do this, you risk becoming incoherent. Better to decide how you are going to portray yourself and stick to your story. If the story needs adjusting it applies across the board, not just a particular employer.

It did also help to look at other résumés for ideas...

Finally, a résumé is potentially a bottomless sink of time. Beware of the perfectionist instinct!