Tips for getting a job in tech - Part One - Your Resume

A few tips to explore how to build a better resume. This advice won’t guarantee you to pass any tech interview, but many common pitfalls cause people to fail. As always, free advice is seldom cheap...

A few tips to explore how to build a better resume. This advice won’t guarantee you to pass any tech interview, but many common pitfalls cause people to fail. As always, free advice is seldom cheap, so this might involve you spending quite a bit of effort! :)

Keywords and Filtering

Let’s start with the first and most obvious one: Your resume or CV.

When applying to large companies, there’s often an automated system that processes your application. Often these use keyword matching to ‘score’ your resume as being appropriate to a job. Hiring managers have limited time, and they can’t read every resume, so an initial automated triage is required. As such, you must read the job description and make sure that your resume is keyword-heavy, matching the job description.

If it asks for somebody who has senior-level knowledge in Kotlin, you can’t say that you have equivalent knowledge in Java and have the machine understand that! So, while you cannot put every iota of your abilities on a 1-2 page resume, you should tailor it to a specific job application, making it keyword heavy.

So, for example, if they’re looking for a mobile developer who knows the backend, and you’re primarily a backend developer who knows mobile, be sure to tailor the resume to be heavier on your mobile background.

This brings me to the next point

Don’t lie

It might be tempting to pad your stats, lie about abilities, fake some experience or education, or something else while tailoring your resume. Don’t do this. You WILL get caught, and the best that could happen is that they reject and forget you, and you just wasted your time and energy. Also, tech is a smaller community than you might think, and news does get around. If you can’t be honest on a resume, you can’t be honest on the job, and it will hurt you in the long run. And if someone tells you ‘everybody does it,’ don’t listen to them!

Education is important, but not essential

I get many questions about ‘Do I need an MS or Ph.D.?’, and the simple answer is ‘it depends. Every job is different. Read the requirements closely. There’s usually a ‘minimum’ and a ‘preferred’ set of qualifications. If you’re somewhere close to these, go ahead and be confident that you’re ok. Often they will say ‘…or equivalent experience’, which is your opportunity to show what you can do beyond education. I find that type of wording is more common nowadays.

While putting education on your resume, you don’t need to be exhaustive. Listing every class you did makes it hard to read. Simply tell the degree, the school, the date granted, and any particular things you’d like to call out. For example, if you did a significant project that matches the type of thing they’re looking for in the job, call that out! But you are wasting resume space by listing every single class :)

Proof of ability is easier than ever. Take advantage of this!

It’s easy nowadays for you to show that you can do the job. You can blog, post to YouTube, open-source code on GitHub, enter coding competitions, get rankings, and so much more. When I read a resume, this is the first thing I will look at before education or experience. It’s free, easy to do, and you don’t have to be in the top charts. There’s another hidden bonus here – often, tech interviews will have tech questions. If you have code in your GitHub, I think most tech interviewers would prefer to ask about that instead of coming up with hypothetical scenarios. So now, you’re speaking from a position of strength!

…which brings me to the next point:

Don’t Lie about Code

Just like lying on a resume, don’t put other people’s code in your GitHub and try to pass it off as your own. If you’re asked about what is supposed to be YOUR CODE and have no deep idea what it does, you WILL get caught. Write your own code, or extend other people’s code, but put your work down as your work, and don’t take from someone else!

Finally, find a good friend who will be honest with you and who will tear your resume apart, finding flaws so that you can fix them! :)