Re: Resume format

Subject: Re: Resume format
From: Bruce Byfield <bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 18 Feb 2002 18:38:59 -0800

Justin Cascio wrote:

* Do you think it's a good idea to sort the meat of a resume by skills
rather than by employers?

Ordering by employers is somewhat more common in my experience, but, when in doubt, do both. Include a Summary at the start that briefly lists your skills.

* Should anyone doing a first pass on resumes for a tech writer position
know that MS Office contains Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, if these are
required tools?

Resumes are often sorted by clerical staff who are told to look for key words. Many would probably have this basic knowledge, but you can never been sure. I've met people who didn't know that they had been working on Windows for the last three years. Since the change is minor, following the recruiter's suggestion seems sensible here.

* Should I have even the most basic tools on my resume, everywhere I used
them, or should I only apply this treatment to more TW-specific tools like
RoboHELP and just mention once that I know how to use these tools?

Use your judgement. Scan the ads in the area and include the frequently-requested tools.

* Was this recruiter definitely rude and defensive, or is it just my
neurotic opinion?

Not being there, it's hard to say. However, here's a few things to think about:

- The recruiter sounds as though she might know the market, even if her writing skills aren't very good. Are you sure you made clear that you were talking about the writing and punctuation?

- Like many people on this list, she may be more careless in informal e-mails than in ones in which she presents a client. So, she could still do a good job for you despite your misgivings.

- Pointing out people's mistakes in grammar and punctuation without being asked is a very common way to put people down. It can come across as snotty, especially if the person is already defensive about their writing skills. As a general rule, I never comment about a person's mistakes unless specifically asked to.

- A recruiter comes across a lot of people who think they know better. No matter how justified your comments, you may have just slotted yourself into this category for her. If so, then she may be less willing to put herself out for you by giving you advice about how to improve your resume.

- Since you had a valid reason for concern, you should have proceeded with some diplomacy. After all, you probably need the recruiter much more than she needs you. For example, you could have asked to see the revised resume before she sent it out on the grounds that her changes might help you to find ways to improve it. Or, perhaps, you might ask her to be sure to use styles if she made any changes; if she had no idea what you were talking about, you could explain the importance of a tech-writer using them in a resume; you'd get what you wanted, and she would learn more about her job, and nobody would be insulted.

- If you think you might work with the recruiter or her company again, you might want to check that there's no hard feelings. An effective recruiter is well-worth cultivating.

Bruce Byfield bbyfield -at- axionet -dot- com 604.421.7177

"I'm not afraid of gambling, I just want some odds, that's all."
- The Mollys, "Come on Strong and Run"

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Resume format: From: Justin Cascio

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