Even if you listed tons of technologies, badly looking resume hints that you don’t care about the quality of things. Employer might think: “He must be writing his code in the same ugly way.”
In this blog post I want to share few things I did to my resume.
Actually, I have more of a CV than a resume. After recent changes I created two different versions of my CV. One is more concise two pages that I would normally use and another is extended 4 pages version. Four pages version contains detailed information on projects I worked on, so it can serve for my future editing, should I need more information.
Probably, the main thing anyone should do to their CVs is to ensure your future employer will have a clear idea on what you had done before. Obscure general phrases are just destroyers of a resume or CV.
For my own resume I completely rewrote everything into smarter format. I used past tense bullet-point sentences to clearly describe what I did. Let’s have a look at before and after of one concrete example.
This is what I previously had as a summary for my experience at bwin.party company:
“Developing and extending large set of back-end services in scope of enterprise SOA architecture in large betting company. Scalability and performance were top most requirements.”
It was followed by a list of projects I worked on. One of them was statistics service I created. I described it like this:
“Service which fetches huge amount of statistics data from external provider over FTP and transforms it for internal consumption.”
Obviously potential employer looking at this description wouldn’t have any idea at what my contribution to this project was. Was I implementing it from scratch or was I fixing bugs? Or, maybe, I just know something about the system so I listed it.
After editing, the summary became:
“Bwin.party is an online betting company. I worked in the company’s sports branch, with a team responsible for backend services. Scalability and performance were the top most requirements. Most services were exposed through REST API; they had to be available 24/7 and withstand extreme loads during championship events.”
Then, I came up with this description for the statistics project:
“Designed, implemented, and launched a new sports statistics system. This system imported data from an external FTP location and made it available on our website through AppFabric Cache.”
This description exactly says what I did and even provides a glance look at some of the technologies used.
Another thing I had to improve was my writing. I’m not native English speaker and I’ve never took any English grammar classes. I make many mistakes.
I hired an editing and proofreading company to go through my CV and fix mistakes. I only paid 31 Euro, but my CV became English language error free. Plus they provided a few general suggestions on improving my CV.
You have to be really careful with someone editing your CV, as they might change the meaning unintentionally. For example, they wrote “Fixed a serious performance problem using search engine…” when it really had to be “Fixed a serious performance problem in the site’s search engine…”
There were obvious problems that made their way from times when my English was even weaker. For instance, sentence “I was awarded in nomination “Best Rookie Developer of 2008” in my team of 50 people, so am proud of this, because at that year our team got a lot of new people.” sounds horrible to me. Now it just says: “Was awarded the “Best Rookie Developer of 2008”.
I completely changed the format of my CV. I’ve borrowed styling and formatting from my friend’s resume. He’s hired a professional technical writer to create a CV for him.
Previous version was grey 4 pages wall of heavy text with odd formatting.
The new version is just two pages. It is nicely formatted and is error free. It is available here.
It’s very important that someone reviews your CV. I asked my colleague who does a lot of interviews to review my CV. He said that if CV is short, screener reads through all job posts, but if it is long screening ends at your last job post. So it depends what you want to show. Other thing he thought of, was adding skill grades for different technologies, like C# (major skill), F# (minor skill). I didn’t incorporate this advice, but I’m still considering it.
I added a new photo to my CV, not the one you currently see. After I showed my CV to my wife, she said that she would never hire someone who looks that frowning and sad. I had to make a new picture with a hint of a smile.
I already have official recommendation letters from two of my previous companies. I’m planning to include those when applying for a job. A recommendation letter for a software developer is not common in Ukraine where I had worked before moving to Austria. But here in Western-Central Europe it is almost a must. I think that it doesn’t do any harm to ask for an official recommendation letter even if it is not common in the country where you live. Ask for it now, otherwise it could be a difficulty to get it few years later.
I’ve never used a cover letter. It has never came to me that this might be a useful technic. But it might, especially if you are looking for a specific job and want to outline exactly why you are the best match for it. Should I find my “job of dream” I might consider creating dedicated cover letter. For now, I won’t create one. Have you ever used a cover letter? Did it work for you?
I haven’t done this. I also have mixed feelings about hiring someone to write my CV completely from scratch. Probably, they can do a great job. But finding a really worthy professional might take lot of time. Also a good one would cost you few hundreds $. Though, it is definitely a great investment, if you resume looks terrible at the moment.
My resume wasn’t looking good. It isn’t extraordinary great now, but I think I’ve improved it significantly. Main things I did to it, was rewriting it in more concise and descriptive manner, fixing mistakes by hiring a proofreading company, and changing the styling.
Hopefully, this post can be of some help to make your resume look better. I would be really happy to know if it helped.
If you have suggestions on further improvements to my CV, I would really appreciate it.
There is more to having professionally looking CV / Resume. You should consider having market oriented resume versions.
For instance, described above two pages CV with a photo is common for EU, but it is not a great thing for US market.
In US it is more appropriate to have 1 page resume without any personal information.
As a result I created US oriented one page resume.
After going through short free blogging e-mail course by John Sonmez, I didn’t sign up for the marketing course. I was a bit sceptical about paying few hundreds for the course. But not to miss on the opportunity to learn from John I decided to read his book “Soft Skills”. (Actually I listened to it via Amazon Audible.) The book wasn’t exactly what I expected it to be – it was much more. It’s kind of a book I would like to write myself someday. The book isn’t just about soft skills needed to perform your everyday tasks at work, it is much more generic and broader in topics. The book is about skills you need to succeed in your life as a software developer. “Soft Skills” includes advise on career, productivity, finances and even fitness and nutrition.
There is a lot of unique in the book, but probably you will find yourself familiar with some of the recommendations. For example, in one of the chapters on productivity John suggests using pomodoro technique. Obviously, it isn’t something new. But the author explains how to make it work and also adds few of his own practices. Everybody knows that their health is very important, but unfortunately too many of us neglect to do anything about it. I think emphasis this book does on fitness and health in general is something that makes the book special. Personally, I didn’t really enjoy some of the chapters on finances. Maybe that’s because I’m almost done with my goal of reading 13 books on finances and investing this year. But, still, I think that others might find it useful, plus it is interesting to know about the financial experience of the author himself.
I’ve certainly learned few concrete tricks and technics I’m going to use when searching for my next gig, like creating a resume that stands out, applying for a job, hacking the interview, negotiating effectively and other.
I will also apply some of the productivity recommendations at my current work.
A lot from the section on learning is very practical. Hopefully, concrete steps this section is offering will help me overcome some of the inefficiencies in my learning process. I have to admit that I often learn incorrectly. For example, frequently I first read a book and only then try things out. Intuitively it felt to be an inefficient way of learning, but I continued to do so.
The other big takeaway is health related. This year I started to run (well, again), but this is not enough to feel myself fit and full of energy. The problem is that I’m not consistent in my runs. I will add some scheduled fitness exercises to my runs and will try to follow John’s advise on the topic.
John has managed to retire at age of 33 and even I’m 5 years away from that age I have less aggressive target of retiring at 41. Best takeaway on the financial side was realising that I share same opinions on the matter and have already taken few of the first steps on the way to financial freedom.
“Soft Skills” is up to date book with very sensible, practical and actionable advice for any software developer. It has a potential to greatly improve your life – not just your career. I would highly recommend to read this book. I’ve even ordered a printed copy of the book as a gift for my friend for his birthday.
See the book on Amazon or buy it using my my referral link below.
I think I’ve read “The Passionate Programmer” for the second time. Otherwise, I cannot explain why almost everything I read in the book sounded like a “Déjà vu”. Well, even if it was a second time, it’s worth it. Book itself if very easy to read. It is nicely organized in small chapters and contains short real-world stories from different people. I liked reading the book very much. Besides, since recently I started working on getting back on track with my career and blog writing this book came very handy.
Author, Chad Fowler, does really great job advising software developers on their career. This book definitely makes you think about your current position and gives sensible suggestions on possible actions to improve the situation.
The book helps you realize that your skills are just a product. A product that is highly demanded. For any high demand product there is high supply. And it is only a question where you find your product in all the supply available. Is your product a quality one? Are you sure your product won’t become obsolete over time? What is it you do to stand out from the crowd?
There is one take away from the book that I took action on already. I started writing Monday weekly e-mails to my direct manager with list of last week’s completed tasks and the goal for a current week. This is not to make my manager happy nor to make me look nice. I’m doing this for myself. For sure this will keep me focused and provide additional push for completing my work.
These below are some other action items from the book I want to take:
Go ahead, read the book and create a list of action items for yourself.
Just Be Better Than Yesterday!
I want to share something with you, especially if you are one of those who’s been following this blog for a while.
Everyone is interested in succeeding. Succeeding for software developers often means boosting their careers. This can be done by mastering the craft and by marketing yourself. Even if you are one of the best programmers in the world, all you will get by only doing you work is just more work. Of course, if you work hard and exceed expectations you will get promotions. Unfortunately this is limited to your organization. And when you move to the next place you have to prove again that you are of great value. Basically, you are left without any sizable portfolio for all your hard work and all you have to show is few pages of a resume. You have to promote yourself online.
One of the best things I did to my career was starting this blog in 2009.
This is also something I would recommend to you. There are people who would like to help you.
To get yourself started just sign up for this free blogging course: http://devcareerboost.com/blog-course/
I’m sharing this because it helped me to activate my writing again. Besides, I completely agree with what John Sonmez (http://simpleprogrammer.com) has to offer in his course. I think that having a quality blog will not only help you boost your career but will also help you to be a better developer over time.
Thanks to the course I’ve finally moved my blog to a self-hosted environment. I hope you like the new design. I’m also planning to keep up with a blogging schedule.
The most important thing about blogging is consistency, probably something you haven’t seen on this blog in the last 2 years.
It is something I want to change. So, I would like to thank John for the inspiration. Thank you!
Share your thoughts and blog links.
Can you be a big boss if you are not greedy? Can you move to higher positions if you spend you time giving to others? Isn’t it better to take as much as possible? And to grab every opportunity you have to get promoted? Why would you help others if you don’t get back more or at least equal?
This book argues with conventional view on how people succeed.
The book splits people into three categories: Takers, Matchers, and Givers. It could be that most of people are Matchers. We always try to pay it back. Entire world is build on that – you pay people. There are people who would smash you into the crap if you stand on their way. It is commonly accepted that these people get what they want. There is type of people who help others without second thoughts.
Adam Grant, the author, says that takers get to high positions quickly, but only givers stay there for long. Though it could happen that givers got trapped and become doormats or pushovers, the book brings some tips on this.
One of the reasons I liked the book is that it provides a lot of research information. Book is not written out of thin air it bombards with facts to support ideas. Studies and research results provided in the book are thought-provoking. Just reading them is very interesting and sometimes even exciting.
For example if you were to ask wife and husband to give a percentage of their contribution to their marriage life. Ideally it should sum up to 100% and be 50%/50%, but turns out everyone thinks that they contribute more so you get something close to 130%.
Or did you know that your name could easily affect your choices in life? People with name Dennis are more likely to be Dentist. At least this is something author brings as the fact. On the other hand I just googled why this might be not truth.
There are many more of similar studies and facts about successful people in the book. I enjoyed reading them.
Some are questioning if book is truly bringing new approach to success or it is just useless junk. I found this interesting question posted by Iryna:
While reading a book, I decided to conduct a research. I interviewed my friends and co-workers and asked them to pick four values and arrange them from most to less important. I used values from the list presented in Schwartz study.
I found out that all the men picked values from taker list. Wealth, power, pleasure and winning. The majority of women picked helpfulness, responsibility, social justice and compassion. So, according to my research, women tend to be more giving then men. (Was not surprised of course by this result). However, as you know the majority of executive positions are still occupied by men. The question is, does “take and give” approach work when it comes to gender? Or man who is a taker will always be a step ahead of a giving woman?
It is very legitimate question. I also think that book brings some controversy thoughts. Splitting people just by givers and takers didn’t seem good enough to picture successful person, since many givers were and are not successful. Frequently because they were doormats/pushovers, burned out or just went unnoticed. I’m wondering if we could maybe come up with idea of successful person that also shares similar properties of giver, but also has what’s best from taker.
Let me try: I think the way to succeed is to give people something that they need and value more than it actually costs for you. Even though I used word “give” and it probably sounded like takers motto. But why would that taker be bad? He is just smart, and besides he is helping others by giving them what they want. Isn’t he? I think that supporting other people is very wise, since they will watch your back. Building solid social network is important and you indeed can only build it by sincerely helping. Giving credit and prising people is also very important and a must.
Important is to know what others need and what it is you can give them back.
I honestly love to give and help, but what I love even more is to get. When I was reading the book I though that I mostly fall into matchers/takers group and was a bit ashamed (since they are bad, right?). But I just took assessment on the website of the book: http://www.giveandtake.com/Home/ChooseAssessment
Here are my results:
Doesn’t look that bad, does it? What are your results?
Pay it forward is exactly what this book advocates for. This is what my former scrum master did when she gave me this book and one more book. I’m really thankful her for this. I should be paying forward as well.
Dear readers this blog post is my payment to you. I don’t know you – I just share thoughts with you, but sometimes this might help me. It did in the past, since blogging pays off.
Do I recommend to read this book? YES! Definitely. It worth reading even if in the end you will find yourself not agreeing with some conclusions.
See the book on Amazon or buy it using my my referral link below.
“Be so good they can’t ignore you” is a quote from comedian Steve Martin that captures what is needed to build a working life you love.
“ The career capital theory of great work […] provides the foundation for all of the ideas that follow it in this book. It claims that the key to work you love is not to follow your passion, but instead to get good at something rare and valuable, and then cash in the “career capital” this generates to acquire the traits that define great jobs. This requires that you approach work with a craftsman mindset and not a passion mindset. ”
I tend to have very ambitious plans and even realizing this I never regret because I believe that the higher you mark the higher you are going to reach. Of course there is some frustration and dissatisfaction when it is time for a review. If it is the case for you just neglect all bad and continue looking forward. Life is too short to spoil it with negative emotions. I visited so many places in the past year I wouldn’t believe if you told me this year before. Great and deep feelings of pleasant moments travelling somewhere in Europe together with my wife is the best thing taken from passed year. I hardly remember last piece of code I worked on, but I clearly see golden sun smoothly going down on the beach of Falassarna.
At the beginning of 2012 my life was about to change much once again. I changed my job, but this time it also meant change of a country. While we were finishing relocation paper work I tried to enjoy last month of being unemployed. I went skiing many times and slept well. Besides I released my e-book on design patterns.
Suddenly we appeared in Austria. Here is picture of me in front of my company’s logo at first day of our arrival:
Finding an apartment was a first challenge. After overcoming it and few others we almost stopped worrying. Starting in a completely different country and company with different mindset was extremely interesting and exciting.
After some acclimatization me and wife started to travel. Leveraging Schengen Area we really travelled a lot, I even did not expect that much. You will find complete list later on.
My professional life though did not thrive much in the past year. For sure I’ve improved my skills in many areas. For example my English has improved and a lot of new working experience was gained. I also learned some new to me approaches of delivering software and understood a lot about new company setup and its product available and used by millions. Additionally I introduced myself to few programming languages and did some pet programming.
Year ended with long vacation back in Ukraine together with my parents, friends and relatives. I wish I could be in many places at the same time.
Now lets look at each of the items I planned year ago in my 2012 “Where do you want to be in a Year?”.
– Buy a car in Europe (some used German car)
Car is a whole separate topic. Turns out that keeping car in Europe is quite expensive. Just mandatory insurance costs close to 100 Euro each month. Of course it depends on car size and your driving experience and can be much decreased if you willing to drive Matiz while having 9 years driving background.
I didn’t buy a car in 2012 for myself, but I bought people carrier for my father. It was first time I really leveraged from duty fee. 20% of taxes were returned when I brought back confirmation of exporting car out of EU. Well registering car in Ukraine is tough task and I’m glad I didn’t have to deal with it.
In addition I now hold Austrian driving license and proud to state that I passed an exam with my first try. It might sound ridiculous, but many friends I know here didn’t pass exam immediately, even they had some experience from Ukraine. Even 3 other fellows who tried to pass exam same day with me have failed. One try costs 130, printed license costs 90 and medical check 35. Total 225 euro just to get license if you already hold one from other country. If you want to pass it from scratch it would cost around 1,3K.
If you do the math, renting car is by far more cheaper and preferable over owning one if you only have some weekend trips time-to-time. Unfortunately I cannot drive to Ukraine by hired car. This year I drove Hyundai i40, Hyundai Accent, Opel Corsa, Opel Astra. As of not rented I drove Hyundai i20, Fiat Scudo carrying twice as many people as in normal car and finally I had a chance to drive my Chevrolet before I sold it. I think I like driving.
– Travel though major cities in Austria (Vienna, Salzburg, Linz, Graz, Innsbruck, Bregenz, Eisenstadt, Klagenfurt)
It would be a titanic work to write about all places we visited with my wife during passed 2012 year, but thanks to her there is report on each of our travel. Below is list in chronological order with links to her blog.
I won’t start commenting on those above, because it would take ages. If you can read Ukrainian you have all stories there, otherwise just see some pictures.
– Sport activities (have two-three summer hikes into the Alps & ski in the Alps)
I don’t have a bike. But you can ride one completely free of charge here in Vienna. You just register with your credit card and whenever you use bike less than 1 hour you are not charged. Me and wife used this to spend many summer days with joy and benefit for health. We also had one hike in Alps Reichenau an der Rax. So far I went skiing only once and not in so distant Alps. Want to ski in some “real” Alps.
Generally I’m not completely satisfied with completeness of this point. But environment in Austria is more suitable for active life. People ride, run, walk really lot in dozen of parks.
– Learn German for at A2 level (which is elementary)
Ich glaube meine Deutsch ist noch zu schlecht. I attended one intensive course and also joined language courses offered by my company. Placement test reckons me for A2 level. I doubt it being even close to truth, but I will continue with German in 2013.
– Improve English and rich C1 level (which is advanced)
Probably C1 is pre-advance. For sure I’ve improved my English. Online estimation gives me 7.7K known words versus 4.9K in the beginning of the year. But dictionary is very small portion of what can be considered as proficiency in a language. Fluency in speech is very important. Everyday work in English-speaking environment is a great advantage.
I have extensive blog post on languages I use here in Austria, called “Існує die Frage of Language. Или нет?”.
– Show kick-ass performance at work
For sure I performed really well. Many of my skills were noticed and acknowledged, especially technical ones. On the other hand I’m still lacking in self-confidence and communication skills and maybe some other soft skills. There is already one conference I’m going to visit to improve some of those. But I also doubt that I’m so bad in such things, as I have already been in role of tech lead and it was quite smooth. I think I need more time and motivation which is melting in new company.
– Get promotion (or get clear idea on career opportunities, if not possible)
I think I now have much better idea on career opportunities and raises. It is completely out of synch with what I expected when I just started. Have you seen films in which guys work years to get any promotion meanwhile fighting with others to be pick number one. Of course it is not that severe as in movies, but there are many factors which make it closer to movies than to Ukrainian IT reality.
– In Vienna find local .net community (user group, whatsoever) and join
As per me .NET user group here is marketing driven and besides is held in German so not something I can join easily, at least not for first years. Overall IT market is rather small here.
I’m too greedy to spend almost 2K euro on conference while videos can be downloaded later. It is exactly what I did. Watched dozen of those. Though I visited small conference kindly offered by company.
– Have new friends in Austria, who share same opinions
Many new friends, but I wouldn’t say that I have any Austrian as my real friend. Also by “same opinions” I largely meant interest in technical topics. It is even worse with that. I tried code and beer session and it didn’t go well. I hope it is just matter of time.
– Write couple of WP7 applications and post them to marketplace
Nothing in marketplace. Played a bit with couple of ideas, but gave up. Not sure I still want to do this. I wrote couple of Win8Metro applications for fun and also gave up. It would be not fair to say that I competed this point.
– Release “Design Patterns” Book – I have 1 month to do so
I’m happy to know that I didn’t leave Ukrainian IT without any of my contribution.
– Read 15 books (see my LinkedIn reading list)
I read 7 books and have way too many in progress. Us usual there are Book Reviews on my blog.
– Learn programming language(s). I will start with “7 languages in 7 weeks” and then pick up one for deeper insight (not compulsory from book)
This year I tried many programming languages. Here are my posts on each of the languages from the book:
– Discipline myself to get up at some certain time
We have daily standup meeting at 10:30 so it forces me to be up at latest at 10AM. I cannot say that I failed with this, but also not completely what I wanted.
– Have more public visibility and community impact
This year I had drastically much less public visibility than year before.
I’m planning to have blog post on working experience here in Austria in general and in comparison with Ukraine as it could be very interesting for many of you.
Next year is promising to be life changing once again!