Interviews and Resumes

Dennis J. McWherter, Jr. bio photo By Dennis J. McWherter, Jr. Comment

I have recently had the very interesting experience to participate in a full-day of interviewing for my company. What I mean is that I was recruiting at a university career fair. This exposed me to many different candidates of varying skill and background. More importantly, after sitting in a sea of resumes and conversational notes after the event, I really started to understand what I liked and disliked about resumes.

Be Personable. Be Passionate.

Simply put, when speaking with a recruiter you should be excited, passionate, and inquisitive. Put somewhat different absolutely do not be “lukewarm.” Most interviewing blogs say you need to be memorable, which is true. However, in tech, the memorable ones are typically those who we can see really love what they do. We’re out there seeking talent and if we feel like your not excited about us, the chances are high that we won’t be excited about you. When we interview candidates for positions we aren’t robots; we want to see that you’re highly proficient in your area of expertise and that you’re excited about the work you’re doing with us. After all, if you’re not happy in your work, the quality will diminish. If the quality diminishes the company looks bad, etc., etc.

Don’t Be Afraid to Talk.

When you have our attention, don’t be afraid to talk with us. At Yahoo!, most of us out there are actually software engineers for our day job (or at least were at some point). As a result, we’re super excited about the same latest tech you are and we love to give ideas and talk about interesting problems. Even more importantly, this shows us that you’ve actually thought about real problems that we face everyday and already have some exposure in trying to tackle them. This ultimately ends up tying back into the be passionate tip, but meeting people like this from the recruiting-side of things is actually very exciting for us.

The One-Page Rule is For Us.

If your resume needs to be flipped over or you hand us a binder, it’s a little intimidating. Especially in an environment like a career fair where people are talking to us all day, it’s hard to scan the resume, speak with you, and write meaningful notes about our conversation (we really do try our best remember our conversations with everyone) all at the same time. So please, if your resume is longer than one page, try to reduce it. Save the rest of your awesomeness for when you’re talking to us.

One-Page Doesn’t Exactly Mean a Full Page.

When we talk about a one-page resume, we don’t necessarily mean a full page. There should be whitespace, bullets, and relevant keywords that we can pick out so we know how to engage you quickly and get an idea about your interests and skills. Resumes which look like a short exposition ready to be sent to a publisher are often times more difficult to read through than the multi-pagers. What this means is that I don’t always need a full description of each job or project you’ve worked on, but hit the important technical points of that job and move on. Since you’re presumably applying for a similar job as the one I currently hold, the chances are good that I’ll be able to fill in the blanks.

Caution: Reducing your resume is somewhat a bit of an art. Sometimes things really do merit full explanation right there on the page, however, use your discretion and what your knowledge about your industry to decide what is common enough to leave off.

List Relevant Skills.

When we go through the resumes and begin re-reading them (yes, each and every one) after meeting with people all day, one of the most puzzling things is reviewing resumes with no relevant skills on them. Most of the time someone speaks up saying, “yeah, I spoke with them. They only worked <unrelated_subject> jobs, but they had a lot of software experience.” Though this may work in an environment where you can hand your resume directly to someone and have a conversation with them, this would almost never work in other situations where your resume is your first impression. If you’re applying for a software engineering position, your high school experience lifeguarding, working at McDonald’s, etc. is not relevant. However, if you were a 15 year-old CEO developing apps on the AppStore raking in a six-figure salary, that’s something we do want to hear about. Please make sure you list as much notable experiences as you can (within reason) and cut out the extra unnecessary cruft.

Overall, the most important advice I can give is to simply be passionate with whatever you do. Particularly, if you’re a software engineering you should almost definitely be doing spare time projects. Don’t be afraid to talk about those as “not real experience” because that is really where you passion and ingenuity typically shines the most. Above all, relax and just enjoy the conversation!

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