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So little actual software development in software engineering roles

On Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 6:55 PM, Derek Martin <invalid-yPs96gJSFQo51KKgMmcfiw at>wrote:

> On Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 05:58:24PM -0500, Rob Hasselbaum wrote:
> > As someone who looks at a lot of resumes, I sometimes get frustrated
> > if a candidate with a lot of experience buries me in 5 pages of
> > details about work that is only loosely related to the position I'm
> > trying to fill.
> This makes me cringe.  I agree in principle that tailoring your resume
> is a good idea, but...  Have you actually read any significant number
> of job postings on the internet?  A lot of them are sufficiently vague
> that even if you wanted to tailor your resume, it's not exactly easy,
> especially when you do have many years of varied experience, a lot of
> which is very likely to be unrelated to the job you're applying for.

I don't speak for hiring managers everywhere. I can only say that our job
postings are not vague, and we get many quality resumes from many quality
candidates. The ones that bubble to the top tend to be concise (2-3 pages
for senior-level developers) and emphasize the work that the person has done
that is at least in the ballpark of the role we're trying to fill. I'm not
talking about an exact match on tools or frameworks or even problem domain.
But the techniques and best practices of, say, building a commercial web
site based on Java and Javascript are very different from writing software
for embedded systems in C. If you've done both, great! But if you're
applying for a web job as a senior contributor, your resume should emphasize
one over the other.

The resumes that usually don't make it are what I would call the "kitchen
sink" ones. These are longer (5+ pages) and detail every task of every job
the candidate has held regardless of whether it is related to the position
or not (plus a half-page listing of certifications). This scatter-shot
approach makes me think the person either didn't read the job description or
doesn't care and is just blasting out resumes everywhere hoping something
will stick. In the meantime, I've got 15 more reusmes to go through before
lunchtime, and there's a good chance a couple of them will be more on

> In that case, should you just leave it off?  Writing a new resume for
> every single potential job, when you have more than a couple of years
> of experience, is A LOT of work, and the payoff for doing it is at
> best unclear.  This expectation from potential employers is, IMO,
> completely unreasonable and unrealistic.

That's not what I'm saying. If you've got a lot of experience, you're
probably applying to two or three different categories of development jobs
(e.g. web developer, game developer, kernel hacker, whatever). IMO it is not
asking too much to come up with two or three different resumes to target
those broad categories, highlighting some experiences and deemphasizing or
excluding others.

> There are lots of very
> talented people out of work; if you're having trouble finding good
> people to fill your seats, you really need to consider that it's you
> who either does not understand what your need is, or how to go about
> identifying people who can meet it.
I thought the point of this thread was the opposite problem: people not
finding good jobs. My perception and what I hear from colleagues is that
companies are NOT having trouble finding good people. If you're a job
seeker, you have a lot of competition. So while you might choose not to
distill your resume, you should at least be aware that other candidates are
taking the time to do that.

One area where you and I agree, Derek, is that above all else, a company
should be looking for smart people with good problem-solving skills. (I'd
add communication skills to that list, too.) In my opinion, the best way to
assess those qualities is in an interview. The resume just gets you in the

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