Resume Makeover! Getting James a Software Developer Job at Graduation

This week in Resume Makeover, we’re featuring… “James” (*). (* Names changed to protect the innocent.)

James is graduating from college in December 2017 and was looking to get his first real, grown-up job: Software Developer. (Despite the shortage of software developers in many cities, it’s still very hard for any single person to actually get a job. Nearly 79% of college graduates don’t have a job at graduation.) After a few weeks, dozens of job applications and no interviews, he started getting anxious about his job search and stumbled onto TalentWorks. He wavered a bit initially (who are these new guys?) but, in the end, decided it wasn’t worth being a statistic and signed up.

When James contacted us, we immediately saw his potential but also saw why he might be having trouble. It was full of filler content! And all of that was hiding his real, demonstrable skills.

Here’s James’ resume makeover, as done (yet again) by our stellar TalentAdvocate, Erin:

We made 5 key improvements to his resume:

  1. Add a link to your online portfolio or website. Especially in tech, folks are looking for proof that a candidate’s a good software developer. How do they do that? By looking at past projects & code quality — be it a personal website or portfolio, or a GitHub profile with a bunch of projects, they want to see your skills in play. So show them!
  2. Remove the Objective statement. Just like Bobby’s Overview in our first Resume Makeover, Objectives are an outdated practice. This short sentence is pretty vague and fluffy and is better left off the page.
  3. Remove your Coursework. If you’re aiming to land a job in your field, it’s fair to assume that the recruiter/manager will know what classes took because core classes are uniform across schools (for the most part). Instead, translate what you learned in those classes into industry relevant skills/concepts to add to your “Skills” section.
  4. Add a proper “Skills” section. A lot of recruiters want to beeline to an easy to digest summary of your skillset to determine if you have the baseline skills/qualifications to carry out the job. So make it easy to find! Summarize 
  5. Remove the “Community Leadership” section. Though commendable for getting involved in your community and embracing leadership opportunities, we recommend only including this type of work if the duties are directly related to your career goals or if you are applying for positions within the nonprofit sector. Otherwise it could detract recruiters’ eyes to this section rather than concentrate on all the other areas of your resume that counts!

After James made these optimizations, he immediately started getting interviews through ApplicationAssistant, and in just 9 days accepted a job offer! Here’s what James had to say:

I’m really happy with how TalentWorks optimized my resume! Your suggestions on how to cut out the filler and make the key points stand out have made a huge difference. I wish I hadn’t waited so long to sign up!

No James, it was all you all the way — we were just a coach and a cheerleader. Go you!

Introducing Resume Makeover! Bobby: Looking for a Project Management Job

This month, we’re kicking off a new series: Resume Makeover. Think Extreme Home Makeover meets the job search.

Every day, we see amazing, potential-filled people with terrible resumes. And we wonder, “If you made these 3-4 tiny changes, your job search would be so much easier! Why  are you making it so much harder for yourself?!”

Which brings us to Resume Makeover. Here’s how it’ll work:

  • Each week, we’ll feature a resume from a real person who asked our mentors to review their resumes.
  • We’ll then makeover their resume top to bottom, both visually and content-wise.
  • When we’re able to get the data, we’ll actually show you how much of a difference it made in their interview rate.
  • And, of course, as with all good makeovers, we’ll definitely have a before-and-after pic!

Our first volunteer is… well, we want this to be at least a little anonymous, so we’ll call him Bobby. Bobby was looking for a Project Management position, but after several weeks of searching on his own hadn’t gotten any replies from employers. When Bobby contacted us, we immediately understood why he was having trouble (no college degree) but also so the potential in Bobby’s unique experiences (FEMA!).

Here’s Bobby’s resume makeover as done by our Erin, one of our amazing TalentAdvocates:

We made 5 key improvements to Bobby’s original resume:

  1. Remove high school education.  Unless you’re looking for a college internship (and arguably even then), recruiters don’t really care which high school you attended. Instead highlight your certifications and include where you received them and when they expire.
  2. Relocate “Technical Skills” section. Would recommend moving it to right after your “Certifications” section because these sorts of industry skills are important and need to be more visible.
  3. Remove the “Overview” section.  Overviews are becoming an outdated practice because they’re often verbose, vague, and add very little value to the resume. Unless you’ve tailored that overview for a specific opportunity at a specific company, e.g. completely customized, you’re better off leaving it out.
  4. Start achievements with strong action verbs. Action verbs imply more ownership and clarity, e.g. provided project management vs project managed; provided cost estimation vs. performed cost estimation.
  5. Flesh out achievements with measurable impact.  Recruiters are looking for more than your job description in your resume — they’re looking to see how you successfully carried out those responsibilities and contributed to company success. Think of the specific tasks you performed and how they created a measurable, positive impact on the company, e.g. Ran cost estimation on company’s equipment, materials and labor which C-level executives used to adjust and reduce company’s overall costs by 11%.

And a few other small adjustments:

  1. Double check everything is filled out properly. Add the proper City and State to the FEMA role (right now it says “FEMA, CITY, STATE” with no location).
  2. Remove “Volunteer Work.” Unless the duties in your volunteer work are directly related to your career goals or if you’re applying for positions within the nonprofit sector, would recommend you get rid of it. Or modify so that your volunteering utilizes or hones skills that’d be an asset in your future job.
  3. Remove the line “References Available Upon Request”.  Similar to the overview, this is seen as an outdated practice. Recruiters will ask for your references if appropriate — they don’t need a written reminder of this on your resume.

We checked in with Bobby the other day. Here’s what he had to say to to his TalentAdvocate, Erin:

I’ve had so much activity since you helped me with my resume! I went from not getting any calls to getting 4 last week. I had 2 phone screening interviews last week,[and] I feel much better about my search now. Thank you! Looking forward to seeing what this week brings.

Want Erin to optimize your resume? Sign up for ApplicationAssistant and ask for Erin!