Resume Red Flag?

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It’s happened to most professionals in any field — you send a resume to a company or companies, expecting to hear back and never do.

In searching for employment, you can’t help but wonder what’s happening on the other end that caused your resume to be cast into the void.

Over on our Career Development discussion board, we heard from an IT professional with a very specific guess about such a situation.

Junior member bfman posted: “I have an entry on my resume that I think could be preventing me from getting any calls. I need your opinion on this. The latest entry is for a consulting company I work for on weekends. So, I have made that experience from last year until present with my full-time IT job, which is since 2005 until present. Do you think this weekend consulting is the culprit? If you were a hiring manager, would you consider a person who does IT consulting on weekends and works full time on weekdays?”

Forum member cpattersonv1 voiced doubt that this element of bfman’s resume was the problem. “That’s probably not it. If there are tasks you perform on a regular basis that are industry-specific, and you have them listed, they might be the culprit. For instance, if you are on an IT help desk and you list ‘answer phone calls,’ that sort of thing. The best resumes are short. “Also list things you’ve done to better your workplace or to make things run more smoothly. For IT-related positions, companies want to know that you have a good understanding of their business needs, as well as the technical aspects of IT. Unless the places you’re applying have a policy against weekend IT work, they will more than likely count it as experience.”

Bfman responded, further speculating on his problem. “My friend was telling me some companies are wary — thinking that a part-time consulting job could interfere with a person’s full-time work because they could be getting calls during their regular job. I get called on weekends (but not every weekend) to do some installation, configuration or troubleshooting. If that’s not the culprit, I wonder what is.”

Longtime forum contributor wagnerk attempted to answer that question.

“From my point of view (I sit on an interview panel when it comes to hiring IT personnel), extra work, especially IT related, is more experience and does count as a plus. The only time when it doesn’t is when it produces a conflict of interest between the two jobs. Research the companies that you’re applying to, as you may find that you have to adjust your CV on an application-by-application basis.”

Bfman requested further clarification.

“So, the hiring managers do not say to themselves, ‘This guy is already working as an IT consultant on weekends on disparate technologies, perhaps he is overqualified for an admin role?’”

Wagnerk responded, “It really depends on the individual hiring manager. The title ‘IT consultant’ carries a different weight from company to company/job to job, just like any title. This is why, in your cover letter, you should describe your duties, tasks, jobs, etc., to show what you actually do. Then, it’s down to the individual hiring manager to see if you are the right person for the job.”

General Discussion
We’ve never intended for our forum discussions boards to be strictly limited to talk about certifications. Although the focus is on certification, certainly, we feel providing IT professionals with a place to get to know one another better is part of establishing a community here on the site.

Over the summer, we saw an example of an interestingly off-topic discussion when forum regular masterssullivan posted a thread in General Discussion titled, “Anyone see ‘Fantastic Four’ this weekend?”

Masters asked, “Was it any good? The special effects looked amazing in the trailer. The Silver Surfer always seemed stupid to me, but he looks like T-1000 in the movie! Any thoughts/opinions? Do the themes of the movie relate to certification?”

Wagnerk did his best to twist this prompt back around to certification. “Of course, the movie industry uses special effects and CGI on computers, and those computers are supported by technicians and engineers who, in turn, do certifications to gain the knowledge to support the movie industry that entertains us. Does that make any sense at all?

“Anyway, haven’t seen the movie yet. With any luck, I will be seeing ‘Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer’ soon. I was never a big fan of the FF — I guess the big turning point for me was Jessica Alba.”

We know IT professionals are often also rabid fans of pop culture, and we encourage IT pros gathering at to engage in such off-topic conversations as they see fit.

But back to our main topic. Also in General Discussion, junior member chrislehr voiced his frustration with a particular certification in a thread titled, “70-297 — I am hating this exam.”

“I’ve failed twice now. The second try was worse than the first. I passed all other exams the first time with the exception of 291 (just flat didn’t prepare enough for that one). I think the case study test format is what’s killing me here. Anyone taken this recently? What did you prepare with?”

Wagnerk responded, “Hi, chrislehr. Glad to hear that you’ve passed quite a few of the exams MS has thrown at you. As for the 70-297, I can’t say specifically how to prepare for that exam, as I did the 2K route, then the upgrade exams. But I also had case studies in the route I took.

“The materials that I use generally for MS exams are Learnkey CBTs, CBT Nuggets or TestOut (so two CBT programs from different vendors). I also use at least two books. These would include Exam Cram, Microsoft Press, Syngress (you can even buy their books in PDF format very cheap) and/or Sybex. I use Transcender and, more recently, PrepLogic. And last but not least, I use experience by using virtual labs or, in my case, also using a live environment.”

Wagnerk also recommended looking into Microsoft Exam Insurance.

“It gives you a second chance for free or a 25 percent discount on your next one,” he wrote. “Really, the only other thing that I can say is good luck and don’t give up.” Regular forum contributor Wayne Anderson also added a sympathetic comment.

“Ah, in a bit of embarrassing history, this is the only exam to date that I have ever failed. I was unprepared for the case study-based method of examination. I have described to other people that these tests are hard, not necessarily difficult, as they do not really test a deep technical capacity but rather ask you to look for the one tiny bit of information in the case study that drives the particular answer and then guess what mood Microsoft was in that day and how that scenario fits into ‘The Microsoft Way.’ Try not to get downtrodden.”

Over in our Wireless discussion board, junior member hiwfc had a question about online training for certs.

“Has anyone tried online training for their certifications? I am looking at taking the CWNA online training with vLogic. Any suggestions or recommendations?” Wagnerk offered this feedback: “The only online training that I’ve used is from Microsoft. However, I do use CBTs a lot. I have used the following CBT providers for other vendors’ certs: CBT Nuggets or Learnkey, or you may even want to buy the official study guide from CWNP itself.”

Anyone with a comment to add to this or any of our discussion boards should head over to our forums at

-Daniel Margolis,

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Daniel Margolis


Daniel Margolis is a longtime professional writer and editor. Daniel was managing editor of Certification Magazine from 2006 to 2012.

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