Archive for November, 2010

Crappy job? Tough it out until the new year

November 23, 2010

December’s the worst time to look for a job. The job market stinks, of course, but in November and December, it’s even tougher to get hired.

As the holidays approach, people go on vacation. Managers who drive the hiring process scramble to cover missing people. Schedules turn into Swiss cheese. When the day-to-day operations of a company turn patchy, hiring falls by the wayside.

I learned this one the hard way. I’d quit my job early November, without another job lined up (dumb idea #1). I had a big lead on my next job, and the manager wanted to hire me, but he couldn’t round up people for the interviews. You just can’t get a full roster of people for a group interview the week of Thanksgiving.

When we finally got my interviewing process done, my boss-to-be couldn’t get the executive sign-off for my hiring. No one with sign-off authority was around. When that finally happened around the 20th of December, I had to wait another two weeks until the start of January to actually start.

If you’re thinking of starting the job hunt now, grit your teeth and bear it until the new year. Work on new tech skills over any holiday you have, and add items to your resume that you’ve worked on lately. When the new year rolls around, you’ll have the jump on everyone else.

Does your résumé have to fit on a single page? Roger Ebert has the answer.

November 1, 2010

Every time I speak to a group of people, and people talk to me afterwards, the topic of résumés always comes up. And every time people ask about résumés, someone always asks “Does my résumé have to only be one page?”

Your résumé does not have to be limited to only one page. It just needs to have nothing irrelevant and uninteresting in it.

I refer to film critic Roger Ebert‘s rule about how long a movie should be:

“No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.”

You should apply the same rule to your résumé.

As long as what’s in your résumé is relevant to the reader, and the reader finds it interesting and it helps show how you’ll be a valuable addition to the hiring manager’s team, you can put in whatever you want, and your resume can be as long as you need it to be.

This means that when you apply for a job as a network engineer, you don’t bother mentioning your job at a pet store back in college, unless it somehow relates to the job for which you’re applying. If the job for which you’re applying is at PetSmart corporate headquarters, then by all means, include it.

Is anyone reading your résumé going to care about your “hobbies and interests”? Probably not. I guarantee they won’t if your hobbies and interests are “music and reading.” On the other hand, if you’re looking to do web development for Guitar Center and you play an instrument, then definitely put that in your résumé, perhaps even in your professional summary.

This also means that you have to tailor every résumé you send out. You have to go through every line and think “Will someone reading this résumé care about this?” You have to figure out if some bullets in your work experience should be expanded.

From today forward, don’t ask “Is my résumé too long”. Instead, inspect every word to see if it is of interest to the reader.