Building a resume seems simple enough, but when you actually sit down to do so, it’s possible to draw a blank. More difficult is figuring out how to target your resume toward a specific desired outcome or tailor it for better success.
Members of our CertMag.com discussion forums recently saw fit to conduct an impromptu resume advice session. It started with junior member dsa1971 posting: “I’ve been working on my resume and am looking for some good IT resume examples to help me with my resume, preferably examples for programmers and analysts. Any links to some examples would be great.”
Regular forum contributor Wayne Anderson responded with a lengthy breakdown of this subject:
“A solid resume is indispensible in being able to properly represent yourself to potential employers. The good news is that because of how critical this is to each professional, the Internet provides a wealth of information and resources on how to guide your career materials.
Monster’s Basics: This provides basic tips on building a technical resume and using it to stand out from the pile to get the interview. If you are new to resumes or looking to brush up your resume-writing skills and concepts because it has been a while, this is a good place to start conceptually.
Microsoft’s Resume Template: Obviously 100,001 candidates are using the templates posted here. Use these as a starting point and customize them from there to stand out from the crowd. Do not be afraid to modify the template. Use visual cues — such as certification logos — near the top of your resume to stand out from the stack.
Dice Resume Ideas: Any discussion of technology resumes would not be complete without featuring some of Dice’s ideas on the matter. Dice is focused on technology jobs as a technology job board, so all of the resources on Dice are going to be specifically focused for that audience. This provides a good set of resources for resume tips for various situations and how to handle changes in your job-seeking status.
Finally, a personal tip. I am very involved personally on the Internet. I contribute to several technical communities, run my own personal Web site, write a personal and a technical company blog and give small presentations locally. Over the years as my visibility has increased, I have picked up some experiences that I would advise anyone implement as soon as possible, before you encounter any of the problems I have:
1. Remove your intimate contact info from any Internet-posted resource. I am not saying do not provide your contact information to Monster.com to create an account, but if a job site offers the ability to mark your address and phone number confidential, I would strongly advise you to do so. On Word documents that you host on personal Web sites or post as CVs for speaking or other presentation engagements, remove your address and phone number. An e-mail is all the contact that an interested party will need for the first contact.
If you trust them or want the opportunity to go further, you can always provide a resume with full contact information on a private channel such as e-mail.
2. Keep two versions of each resume that you use. One is your “elevator pitch” resume. One is your full CV. The elevator pitch resume is the one that you use to get attention. This is one in which you compress your experience and skills, throw down logos and flash like its 1999, and use it to get attention for further discussions. The second one is the full, dry, super-professional resume that you use for situations such as an interview or for employers that need everything there is to know about your career before they consider you. You should do this for each resume that you put together.
3. Build multiple resumes if you have a varied skill set and are pursuing multiple possible positions. For example, if you are a Linux guru that can do Web development and you want to go after both types of job, don’t try to use a catch-all resume. Build a targeted set of resume and cover letter for each focus and use them as appropriate.”
Systems & Networks
When making a career change in IT, choosing between two certs can be a daunting task. Our Systems & Networks discussion forums recently saw a post from someone struggling with such a decision. In a thread titled “CCENT or CCNA,” junior member rjw817 said: “I have been working in IT for about 1.5 years now, making a career change. I received my B.S. in IT in September 2007. I am working in a network environment but at the bottom of the totem pole. I am greatly interested in the networking field and would like to get certified. Should I advance gradually and take the CCENT or buckle down and go for the CCNA? Study time is not a problem. My employer has offered to pay for classes. Suggestions from you seasoned pros would be greatly appreciated.”
Forum regular Wagnerk answered: “My first question to you is, ‘Will you or are you working with Cisco equipment?’ If not, then I would recommend for you to either do a non-vendor specific cert like the CompTIA Network+ or a certification program from the vendor that you actually work with like HP or 3Com, etc. Now, assuming that you are or will be working with Cisco equipment, I would recommend doing the CCENT 640-822 ICND1 exam and course. I say this because by doing this exam you’ll do the entry level Cisco cert and get a feel for what it’s like. Then, if you feel like you want to progress higher, all you have to do is top up to the CCNA by doing the 640-816 ICND2 exam. That’s my opinion anyway.”
Over in our Security forums, Wayne Anderson posted these recommendations for deciding which security cert to target, beginning with a short anecdote:
“Recently while I was talking with some newly found associates at a Borders bookstore, I came to the realization that rather than the problem of yesteryear of an industry in which security certification essentially meant you chose between nothing, the Security+ or the CISSP, today’s security credentialing industry is overflowing with possible credentials to go after, which can make concentrating or choosing a specific credential program to pursue rather difficult.
I spent some time this week researching many security credentials including some interviews with some folks who have many of them and have come up with a look at some of the most common credentials in the field that I hope some will find helpful.
Entry Level: Security+ from CompTIA.
Basic concepts, wide range of material, includes physical security concepts.
Intermediate: SSCP from (ISC)2.
A little beyond the Security+ basic concepts, explores deeper concepts around attack vectors and protection. Advanced: CISSP from (ISC)2.
The ‘gold standard’ of security certification. Inch deep and a mile wide, so to speak. There is some minor controversy around the exam as the question quality is uneven; however, the credential is unbeatable for universal recognition.
Management: Intermediate/Advanced: GSLC from GIAC. There is no substitute. Broad subject content and deep content coverage.”
This started a discussion of these selections. Junior member gpearson responded:
“Wayne, as I am fortunate to hold both the CISSP and several GIAC certifications, as well as the CISM from ISACA, I would actually state that the CISSP leans more towards the management and overall understanding of a comprehensive security program. The GIAC certifications are quite technical in nature, and less focused on the management content.
Agree? Disagree? Have something else to share? Your comments and thoughts are always appreciated on our forums. Visit them at www.certmag.com/forums.
– Daniel Margolis, firstname.lastname@example.org