I initially hesitated to comment on Ed Cabellon’s blog post “Listing Technology on Your Student Affairs Resume” because I wasn’t quite sure how resumes for IT positions differ from student affairs positions. I do think there are general considerations applicable to both and so this post is to offer an additional perspective. Purely from my perspective as a hiring manager in a student affairs IT department and limiting the conversation to the technology portion of a resume, here are what I look for:
* Context of how an applicant used the technology. This means numbers and scope. Designing an application used by 2 people is different from designing a system used by 1000 people. A list of technologies are good, putting some context behind the experience is even better. It helps to see specific versions of software and/or programming language(s) used.
* Experience with technologies relevant to the position. Listing technologies used 20 years ago is irrelevant. For example, if we are looking for a SQL Server database developer and I see FoxPro as the only database experience listed, that’s probably not a good fit. In addition, I think it’s probably acceptable to list other technologies like web development software, social media, desktop publishing as secondary information and they do not take focus away from required technologies to the position.
When interviewing an applicant, here is what I expect:
* I expect an applicant to be able to describe what the task/problem the technology solved, how technology was used. I also would expect them to describe their role(s) and their use of the technologies including from the context of business perspective.
* Instead of asking questions like “describe how you would use this tech?” I ask “how have you used this tech?” What I’ve found is that even applicants who list certifications like MCP, MCSD, etc, when asked practical questions, sometimes cannot answer questions that I would assume are fundamental knowledge. In other words, I obviously want to know that an applicant has some foundational understanding of how/when/why to apply technology but I also want to know that they’ve had some experience working with them.
* Do not misrepresent your level of experience. After having reviewed hundreds of resumes and interviewing applicants, I have found it easier to determine whether an applicant’s resume matches his/her actual experience during their interview.
The required level of experience and skill set vary based on the classification of the position we are trying to fill. My general advice is to represent your experience to match the job description and requirements for the position. In my career, I have been a developer, project manager, department manager and now a director. When the position I am applying for is a software developer, I would highlight my software development experience. As a matter of fact, if an applicant is applying for a software developer position and all I see is management experience, I would question whether the applicant is actually a good fit or if they’re even competent for the position.
When determining an applicant’s level of competence, motivation and fit with an organization, there are other evaluation processes that could/should be used including reference checks, questions about soft skills and coding exercises.
What’s your perspective on my thoughts above? Any other considerations to add?