Monday, March 09, 2009


The best way to get your foot in the door is of course ... to know someone.

But, barring that, a resume is nearly a requirement for many jobs, and having a good one certainly would give you a leg up.

If you are a student at PCCC, one of the first things I would do is contact the Career Services office. They can provide some of the initial guidance that you would need to set up a resume.

Larger companies will typically use a resume parser to automatically cut down on the amount of resumes they review. That's right - a human might not even see your resume! These software packages rank candidates based on the job criteria. This is why it is important to get your resume checked out by someone with some expertise, because they know what keywords to put in there.

It's also important to make small changes to the resume to emphasize the skills they are looking for (this also can be done using a separate "cover letter").

People majoring in the Information Technology program, for example, may see an ad that says "Security+ certification required". Why do they put that? Because they are getting a lot of resumes and someone told them "get me someone with Security+". If this keyword does not show up on your resume, guess what? You're not getting past the parser software.

One way around this, especially if you have other certifications, is to throw the keywords in the resume. Let's say you have a SSCP certification - this is similar in content to the Security+ exam. If you read an advertisement and it says "Security+ required" - don't just assume that the person will figure out that your certification is similar. You're trying to get in the door!

If the ad asks for something specific, I'd change my resume a little to make sure those keywords show up. For example, if you formerly listed SSCP, change it to say SSCP (similar to Security+ certification). This way, the resume parser doesn't ignore your resume.

Likewise, even if you don't have the certification, you can say that you are studying for it - for example, you could put under your education that you are "Currently pursuing Security+ certification". Of course, if it says "required", a human might still parse you out. However, if it said "Security+ preferred", that might be enough to get you in the door, if your resume fits the other qualifications.

All of the tips I really have are for tweaking and changing resumes - your first start should be to get your resume looked at by someone - like I said before, Career Services does good work, and the woman in charge (Adrienne Wolff) seems very good at what she does. If you're not a student or have graduated, you can always pay for this service (Google "Resume Consultants"). You may say "$200 is a lot of money!!". However, if this gets you a job paying $5 an hour more than you make now...or if it gets you a job when you are may be an investment worth making.

Thanks to David Csuha for getting me thinking about this.

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