Got resume advice? Long but terribly important (to me anyway)!

Subject: Got resume advice? Long but terribly important (to me anyway)!
From: "Ed Manley" <edmanley -at- bellsouth -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Mon, 29 Jul 2002 14:39:18 -0700

Hello folks,
I need your help. This is about tech writing and tech writers only because I
labor as one, albeit often under different titles, so please don't flame
me -

If you aren't interested in spending time advising a peer, read no further.
If you are to have any insight into helping me, I have to tell you exactly
where I am at the moment, and that's means being pretty personal in this
open group.
Please don't abuse that.

I need help with my resume. It isn't working.

I have aged, in many ways, these last few years (a gray-haired 47 now) and
no longer wish to bounce from pillar to post on widely varying contract
assignments, chasing the latest technology. Spending fourteen months in
Guatemala, ten in Kansas, two gigs in England, over a year commuting to
Tampa, to Louisville and lots of other towns, was fun and educational (not
to mention lucrative) but now I want to find contract-to-hire or, better
yet, W2 employment, in or very near (40 miles tops) my home in Birmingham
Alabama; I need now to keep my head down, do my job and just get out of the
line of fire.
As a tradeoff, I will work for less than half of what I have been billing.

My wife, despite having her Masters, a great personality (not to mention
great looks) and wonderful capabilities, took a no-stress, do-little 30k job
(whoa, that's HER description, not mine!) and has stayed happily at it for
over 18 years now. Drives 15 minutes to work, works 8-to-4 5 days a week and
does the same basic thing all day. I think I am ready to do the same.

I constantly get all kinds of interest from all over the map - just not in
Birmingham. I am supposed to do a second interview Wednesday for a gig in
Louisville KY with UPS for six months to a year, and I am in consideration
in Montgomery and in Huntsville Alabama for work, but I am not spiritually
up to it and will back out of all of them this morning - therefore, anyone
with process analysis and tech writing skills who may be interested may
contact me and I will hook you up to apply for those opportunities...the
money should be around $70k/yr and per diem expenses, so somebody might want
I just don't want to travel any more.

I am thinking of taking my resume completely off-line (except maybe on DICE
or the Monster board) so I won't even be tempted by these gigs any
more...what do you think; is an online presence a good thing when only
looking for work in a tight geographic area?

Since I lost a leg a couple years back I use a wheelchair. I suffer from
extreme chronic pain, can't wear my prosthetic leg, and have had to push
myself harder and harder to stay interested, and am at the point where I
want to leave the organization building and management to the more energetic
(or foolhardy).

I quit a local 80k/yr W2 job three months ago because I was having to drive
process hard, and just got sick of the fight. Since then there has been zero
interest in Birmingham. My resume DID open the door to that gig, submitted
in response to a newspaper ad, so maybe it's not so bad.

I tried to really care about Agile methods, proper requirements analysis,
about rigorous change and version control, about modular "just-enough"
documentation and single-sourcing and such, but it's a constant struggle to
get folks to see the light, and I am tired of fighting. I fully believe that
those techniques will change technical writing as we know it, but I'm not
sure I want to be a driving force for change any more. I just want to
analyze and to write, and I no longer even care if it is within the
SDLC...maybe _not_ might be more fun.

How does one relate that on a resume? How do I tell a hiring manager that I
am tired of making a hundred grand a year or more, and now just want to be a
worker bee for half that or less? (Trust me on this - there is a direct
correlation between stress and pay.)
That I will walk from a high-paying job rather than be beat on every day?
That I have no desire to manage or lead _anything_?
That I could care less if they or their development team won't do the job
right, the product is over budget, way behind schedule, quality stinks, and
brush fires are the order of the day - that if they won't listen to reason
it's not my problem?

Do I dumb down the resume, leave off experiences and skills?

After finding me on the Monster board a hiring manager called me the other
day. We talked briefly and he requested an MS Word resume. I sent him the
long one (six pages), as he had already seen the online brief (two). He
called back and asked if I had a particular skill. I told him yes, and
pointed out to him where it appeared on the resume. He said he had missed it
because he was "blinded by the glare". What the heck does that mean? That he
was impressed? Overwhelmed? Underwhelmed? Confused?

Do I have too much on it? I mean, I know six pages is way too much for a
first contact, but when they ask for detail, how much is too much? I do and
have done a lot of things. So, I added another paragraph to this
ever-growing mess and sent it off to him. He ended up offering me a
six-month gig in Tampa for $47/hr with $9/hr per diem, but I am not going.
So, did the resume work? Sorta. It got me an offer. It just didn't get me
the offer I am looking for.

I have found that when my resume gets me in direct contact with someone who
can make a decision I get offers about one in four was better
than that until the dot-bomb. The problem I have is that hundreds might see
the resume for every one that calls...and if I am to stay in Birmingham I
don't have hundreds to work with - this is not a high-tech town.

Nor is it a high-paying one, and quite a lot of employers want to know my
salary requirements right up front. When I tell them 45k and they see I just
left 80k and made over a hundred in the years preceding that they don't
bother calling.

How does one confine and constrain oneself without sounding like a burned
out loser? How do I make it clear that I wanna be a worker bee - but that I
would be the best darned worker bee he ever hired?

How does one apply for work that is way beneath their capability?

How does one tell a hiring manager that I was so sure this would be easy to
do, and so spent my savings on world travel for the family after I quit my
job, gave thousands to my older kids, and now have to have SOMETHING to pay
for groceries? I truly thought people would line up to employ me for the
money I now ask for. It ain't a happening thing.

Can you say desperate? Can you say it in a resume and land a job?

And the whole contracting thing scares them. How do I mention that I own my
own business and have done pretty well for myself as a contractor, but now
want to "settle down" and seek continuity?

Does anyone know of tech (or any) writing that can be done from home? What
is a logical career change for someone who only really knows documenting the
SDLC and its processes?

I know techwr-l and many other resources online and off have resume advice -
and that's really the problem. I have read so many things and rewritten this
thing so many times I have no clue where to go from here. I have twice over
the years paid "professionals" to rewrite it...not only were those
experiences disappointing, but I can't afford to do so again at the moment
even if it did work. I need direct advice from people willing to think about

I trust the member opinions represented on this list and ask you to look at and help me by critiquing it.

I have a detailed, six-page MS Word version that combines the chronological
with the functional approach that I usually submit when there is some
expression of interest in the abbreviated online versions: if anyone wants
to look it over and help me out I will send it to you. And, of course, each
version on DICE, Monster, HotJobs, Federal Jobs Database, etc. are all
different as well (reflecting their respective resume builders, and my
confusion on this topic). Plus, I have an abbreviated text version for
emails, an extended text version, a State, Federal and a biographical
version, a you-name-it version, I likely have one.

It?s crazy (scary) how I can be so confidant in my skills as a writer - I
have been doing this and doing it well for over twenty years and am in fact
quite good at it, have excellent references, but have no clue how to deal
with a resume or perhaps worse, a cover letter.

Reply off-list if you think that this is too off topic, but another
discussion of this issue on-list might help a lot of us.

If so, I am willing for my resume to be the guinea pig we use to derive a
resume with majority consensus.


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