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On May 8th I asked for help with my resume. Lots of people responded by
hipping me to links to resources, suggesting software, pointing me to their
own resumes and critiquing my resume. Your collective help has been
terrific and I am enormously grateful. A big thank you to everyone who
contributed. As promised, here is a summary of the general information and
tips that came my way (to protect everyone's privacy I have not included
names or email addresses):
One kind soul suggested the following:
>You might get a resume writing program called The Perfect Resume by Tom
>Jackson. He provides a template and advise for slanting "career change"
>resumes. Provides a good basic design that you'll probably have to polish a
>little in Word before faxing.
Kind soul #2 had several helpful comments (which were specific to my
situation so I won't repeat them here) and provided some interesting links
that might be a help to those producing resumes and engaged in the job
#2 was in good company when suggesting a functional resume format as an
Assistant Professor of Professional Writing/Hypermedia at the University of
Utah suggested the same thing, saying:
>I teach tech writing; as a part of that, I teach resume writing. Typically,
>my students do very well as they look for jobs. The resume I teach them
>(called a functional resume) is somewhat different from the one you use
>(called a traditional or chronological resume).
>Imagine you are a reviewer having to review 200 or more resumes. Now
>your response to the following two resumes:
>1) You get a resume that lists everything the applicant has done by date.
>have to read every line and try to divine from those lines what the applicant
>can do and if those skills relate to the skills you are seeking. It takes a
>good five minutes to carefully read through and mentally list the skills.
>Given that there are lots of qualified applicants with easier to read
>do you think you would read this one?
>2) You get a resume that begins with a list of the applicant's professional
>skills. The list presents all of the software he/she can used, and it lists
>all the types of projects he/she has participated in. Within ten seconds you
>know that this person has the skills you are seeking. Then the resume proves
>the applicant can do the claimed skills by describing where he/she got them,
>briefly listing jobs and education.
>Assume that you have fewer than 10 seconds to capture the eye of your
>If your resume looks like #2 (and unfortunately it doesn't) it will be read.
>If it looks like #1 it will not be read.
I actually ended up with a hybrid of the functional and chronological
styles. A web version is available at
>This is a timeline resume with keywords listed on top. I was coached into
>this format by several headhunters. Fwiw, it has an above-average hit
>rate. Most resumes get one response (usually in the form of an interview)
>for every ten copies sent out; mine gets an interview for every 4-5 copies
>I send out.
>When in doubt, I trust hiring managers and placement agencies to critique
>my resume on the grounds that they know what they're looking for.
Louise O'Donald posted several comments to the list, including:
>I quickly looked over your resume and two things jump out: First,
>"creative technical writer" is a don't-fit condition. That combination
>doesn't fly -- tech writers aren't supposed to be "creative" (they can
>be, but it's not something you wanna publicize); creative is a term much
>more suited to marketing communication types.
That thing about creativity being looked upon with suspicion by technical
types doesn't make much sense to me, though I do not doubt the veracity of
her statement (I am expressing a personal opinion here). It seems like
companies are constantly scouting for people who are truly creative. The
top people at Microsoft keep saying that the guys they are afraid of are in
some garage somewhere creating the next big thing. I wouldn't have gotten
anywhere doing tech writing without creativity. I had to teach myself
PageMaker, Micrografx Designer, general principles of layout, learn a
complex technology I had never heard of, scour the internet for other tools
like Hypersnap which samples images off of the desktop, etc., all in four
months, and simultaneously deliver a high quality highly technical document
that passes muster with engineers and non-engineers alike all over the
globe. I accomplished this with no formal training whatsoever. I am quite
sure many people reading this know exactly what I am talking about; I'm no
svengali. I know I am shamelessly blowing my own horn, but isn't this the
kind of creativity that what people want out there? It is about ingenuity
and solution oriented thinking (no matter what one is doing). In fairness
to Louise, I have heard those sentiments echoed by other people on this
list, so apparently it is, at least in some segments of this industry, an
opinion that people hold. I am the newcomer here, obviously. I ended up by
leaving that word in, but I moved it from the beginning of the first
sentence so that it doesn't jump out so much. I figure if someone asks me
about it I will know what to say. I don't think I would want to work for a
company that allows no creative latitude. Just to make things clear,
however, Louise O'Donnald's comments were certainly helpful, including the
one quoted above. I really appreciate the time so many people took in
critiquing my resume.
I think I have covered everything that would be relevant to post here.
Thanks again to everyone who helped! I think I have a product which is
definitely better than what I started with.