Saturday, 5 July 2008

Building a one page resume

So my time at Teleios has ended. It was a decent place to work, with many memorable folks and events, but at the end of the day life threw me a curveball which I chose to catch by moving out of traffic-centric Port-of-Spain and working from home for at least the next month or so. The upside is that I now have much more free time on my hand while I build a business pipeline and seek new opportunities for private jobs to sustain my income. One of the pet projects I had on my plate, which seemed appropriate to start with as I am now technically unemployed, was the "one-page resume."The idea of a one-page resume is not a new one. Sadly in Trinidad, it may be new since the inexperienced new graduate or recently working individual feels that a resume of several pages in length trumps that of a shorter length. In reality though, brevity can be a key component to whether you're put at the top of the pile for callbacks or whether you're lost in the sea of other candidates' resumes. I once had the task of "short-listing" the fifty odd resumes of recent university graduates to a list of no more than 20 for initial phone screenings, the first step in the hiring process at my previous employer, Medullan. Each resume had at least a two page length, with some being stretched to as much as five pages. Needless to say, it was very monotonous, and slightly headache-inducing, extracting the information from each resume needed to make a fair evaluation of the candidate to determine whether he or she fit the criteria for short listing, especially when superfluous information such as extensive details of course contents from irrelevant but standard university courses were included as an obvious attempt to make a lengthier read.In my interest to be fair, I ensured I read all the resumes, every detail, since I remember too well what it was like to be inexperienced and could forgive such mistakes in the interest of giving these faceless folks a fair evaluation. Another individual with such a task, with perhaps as many as two-hundred or more such resumes, might not. The five page resume filled with multiple suitable references to qualifications and job experiences in line with the position may find itself at the bottom of the pile, last to be read if read at all, simply because it would take too long to be evaluated fairly when compared to the much shorter two to three page resumes other, maybe less suitable, candidates might have put forward.Consider now if this bypassed candidate's resume was condensed to its smallest possible size, one page, and that its content, although brief, contained the necessary details for a fair evaluation to be made at a glance. The likelihood of this resume being read in its entirety when placed in a stack of two hundred lengthier but similar documents has now drastically gone up. Additionally, if written well enough, "hooks" can be planted into the wording of the details in this one page that make for the opening of your "selling strategy" when the actual interview happens. Experienced candidates know that the resume is an advertisement of yourself, an invitation to a recruiter to get to know you better as a potential suitable candidate for an opening. Having purposefully included starting points for exploration (or hooks) throughout your resume are key to allowing you, as a candidate, to direct an interview in a direction where you can demonstrate your strongest qualities and "sell" yourself as the best candidate for the job at hand.One person whose attempt at a one-page resume I highly like is Kevin Fox. His resume is freely available as a PDF file to download, and it is his layout that I have copied in my attempt to create my own personal one-page resume. One cannot create one's own one page resume by simply copying the structure used by Kevin though. Alone it is not the crux of things. The key to his resume is how subtlely his hooks are placed. The one page of details about Kevin is laced with sell points, from his experience with Gmail building, to his working with Apple as a client, to his interest in "Viral workflows". Not a keyword placed is wasted, for I am sure behind each keyword he has placed, there is a strong story demonstrating key attributes about him and his abilities.So now my challenge, which would be the same as all who seek to create a one-page resume, is to condense in a similar fashion my current three page resume into one page, ensuring I include the essential details that, at a glance, will make me an ideal candidate for any future software developer position I wish to apply for. At the same time, I also need to include the "hooks" in the content that can lead to sharing the stories with a future recruiter in an interview. These stories would demonstrate me as not just a strong developer, but a strong leader and team-player with a passion for using technology to create new systems, make existing systems work better, and finally sharing those stories with others as a means of advocating what works with others and gathering feedback to making my own processes better. In the end, I hope, this one page would help me more be the guy getting made the offer for a terrific job, and less the guy whose resume was at the bottom of the pile, passed over because its three pages couldn't stand out in the sea of similar candidates. Update: Please feel free to take a look at my first-cut at a one page resume.