Writing the Perfect Resume

Mark Gilbert

Mark Gilbert

You're thinking about looking for a new opportunity and it is time to do a new one, or update your old resume.  As painful as it is to write, Yoda would say,  "Do it right you will, and positive results you will see".  How right that little alien is.

So think about this, if you were looking for (let's say) a date on line, it would make perfect sense to let someone know as much about you as possible.  After all, in theory, the more they know, the more apt they might be to respond to your ad.  Let's say, for example, that you did not put your height or weight in your ad, well, you might be skipped over for someone who was looking for your type build.  Or if you loved movies or theatre, or enjoyed good wines, and the person REVIEWING your ad was looking for someone with those qualities, you might lose out because they did not see those attributes in your ad. And it works in opposite as well; don't overstate, if you are 400 pounds and blond, and you say you are 180 and brunette, well expect a door slammed in your face when you show up.  The EXACT analogy holds true for your resume. It is the information portal that will (or will not) entice a perspective hiring manager to consider you. 

Be Real...In most occupations, you can exaggerate your knowledge base.  You might be able to insinuate that you have done, or could do, or use your knowledge in a variety of ways.  A guy that sold cars for GM would not be making a major leap to suggest he could sell Fords, but an engineer that worked on P&R tools might be overstating his abilities when he applies to do analog simulation.  Point here is simple. This is a business that deals in absolutes, and in the days of very focused and specific needs, you can either make a major and immediate contribution, or it is likely that you will not be considered.  And even if you imply your experience, and actually get called in, it is doubtful you will pass the technical interview process.  So I strongly advise you to apply within your areas of expertise, and save everyone time. And that leads to how to best present yourself, and prepare a solid resume.

So what makes a strong resume...?

The biggest mistake I see in a resume, are engineers who think they have done so much, who are so self confident in their ability that they assume that the information will flow through to the hiring manager by osmosis or clairvoyance.  Should you be in the possession of that sixth sense you need not read on, if your not, you need to pay close attention.

Resumes need to be understandable from a thousand feet up. You have 30 seconds to either catch a hiring mangers attention, OR NOT!  One shot!  If he/she does not see the buzz words they are looking for, FORGET IT!  So let's start at the top and work our way down.  In today's (especially) start-up world, most companies are looking for hands on players that are not afraid to (proverbially) sweep the floors.  By that I mean, HANDS ON CONTRIBUTORS. (Of course there are exceptions to this clearly in higher management positions, but usually even there as well).

Structuring a good resume to get the best results...

I suggest making your first line your OBJECTIVE.  It is important to keep it broad but yet focused.  Do not narrow your objective to the point it could exclude you for something different that you did not consider.  Try and use words/phrases like:

"Be part of a team"

"Hands on"

"Hands on Manager" (if in fact you are a manager or beyond)

"Join a company where I can use my current experience and expand my knowledge base"

"Contribute"...Well you get the idea.

The point here is, STAY AWAY from anything that will intimidate a hiring manger and cause him not to call you in.  Add your area of expertise, i.e. R&D, Applications, Marketing, or Sales.  Your recruiter should know the details of the position, and should  act as a go between, so that other points you want made, are made by conversation, or recruiter notes to your resume. Try to make them like you in your opening statement so that they in fact READ-ON, as now I want you to.

I like a resume that from the beginning, tells a compelling story. The easier the story is to read, the more likely the reader will read on.  To accomplish this I like to LIST your SKILLS clear and clean.  For example:

Tools Used...Here list tools and even the proficiency with each tool.   

ToolsProfficiency:    Strong Astro P&R tools

            Knowledgeable  XXX

            Farmiliar with:  YYY

Scripting Languages: STRONG PERL TCL .

                                    Knowledgeable  XXX

                                    Worked with YYY

Languages Strong c/c++  Verilog

Knowledgeable  VHDL and other HDL's

OS   Linux etc.

Well you get the idea, paint the picture.  The point in this section is to supply as much information about your skills and your proficiency in each, clearly and easily visible.  Think about it, some companies might need someone that has written heavy C, others want someone that can correct C, others that can work and read C.  The more information you give them, the more possibilities will open for you. There is nothing better than having the most accurate information in front of the person reviewing your resume and contrary, nothing worse than over stating your experience and getting blown out in the interview.  In this business no one fools anyone, so state your experience as accurately as possible. 

Summary is always an interesting part of a resume.   It should be short and sweet.   Just list what and how long you have done, what you have done for the past several years.

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