Showing posts with label My Work My Way. Show all posts
Showing posts with label My Work My Way. Show all posts

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Great Resume Rewrite

I spent all day writing.

But it had to be done.

My work. My way. My resume.

Because MWMW ("My work, done My way") is the Golden Key to happiness. (But we'll blog about about that another time).

I don't have very many regrets in life, but one of them is that I didn't reject the irrational advice and conventions that got imposed on my resume through the years, both by well-meaning and trusted advisors, recruiters, employers, and so forth. That will never happen again. Because from now on, it's MWMY. You know what I'm talking about:
  • Ridiculous and contrived stylistic conventions, such as omitting the subject of a bullet point, because that subject happens to be yourself, repeatedly.
  • Boilerplate text, cliches, corporate-speak, and management buzzwords. 
  • Evasion, manipulation, and "spin."
  • Arbitrary length prescriptions.
  • A bureaucratic tone attempting convey objectivity and solidity, but in reality conveying stodginess and stupidity.
So I took out my resume, started right from the top and rewrote it straight the way down. I found I had to do in in several passes. Each time I came back to the top and restarted, it got better. And it just keep getting better and better.

I mentioned before, in my post where I resolve to do this rewrite, that I would report back on the results. To quote myself, which seems fun:
Contrarian resume is coming. I'm going to be 100 percent grammatical, spelling out the first person for every one of my many accomplishments. It's all about me, as indeed it should be, being my resume, so "I" and "me" are going to be a major element. (I'll report here later with the final count, so be sure to check back here in a couple of days.) I also will pay no attention to length at all. I will only concern myself with showcasing relevant experience. If I fall one word over to another page, that's the way it's going to be distributed. If it takes 10 pages, so be it. I'm going to highlight my short-term projects, as well, by explaining that the instability was the clients, not mine. I might even mention that I resent them for it.

In short it's going to be fresh, honest, clear, relevant, personal, non-deceitful. It's going to be a blast to write it.
So this is fun time;  review time!

And, there are all kinds of interesting results and things to reflect on, as well! For instance, have you ever noticed how easy it is to just glibly throw out a statement about something you're going to do, and then, later, you find out that "the devil is in the details?"  This coming note is a great example of that, and a good illustration to pass on to management about how surprises often arise, despite our best intentions and often things are not as simple as we always assume.

I realized, in attempting to count my use of "I", the following:

  • Simple word-finding/word-counting doesn't work well on the document, because "I" is a letter component of many words, and gets caught by the count programs in places where it should not get counted.
  • Me, however, also needs to be counted.
  • So also, do contractions, such as:
    • I'm
    • I'd
    • I'll
I ended up hand-counting about 60 self-references using variations of the 1st person-pronoun. So that's pretty good. I imagine that would raise a red-flag with the scanning software that started me down this pathway. 

The length of the resume, including all the relevant material I wished to include ran well over the conventional recommendations.  I hit 4 pages, double the conventional Whiz-dumb. 

Just to establish that these conventions are commonplace, and held even by the best of people, here is what Cracking the Coding interview says -- a book I highly recommend, by the way, not for it's resume advice, but for it's approach to career development and interview questions:

In the US, it is strongly advised to keep a resume to one page if you have less than ten years experience, and no more than two pages otherwise. Why is this? Here are two great reasons:
  • Recruiters only spend a fixed amount of time (about 20 seconds) looking at your resume. If you limit the content to the most impressive items, the recruiter is sure to see them. Adding additional items just distracts the recruiter from what you'd really like them to see.
  • Some people just flat out refuse to read long resumes. Do you really want to risk having your resume tossed for this reason.
If you are thinking right now that you have too much experience and can't fit it all on one page, trust me you can. Everyone says this at first. Long resumes are not a reflection of having tons of experience; they're a reflection of not understanding how to prioritize content.
As you saw in my former posting, I'm a contrarian about this advice. Does that mean that I'm not reasonable about it? Far from it! Here is the logic of the way I think, formulated into a response to the above:

Yes, I'm in US, and I do indeed wish I could be in the UK instead, where a Curriculum Vitae is commonplace. But since we're stuck with the US, and I agree with your assessment that recruiters, and for that matter, the actual people hiring spend only 20 seconds or less, "looking at [my] resume." I will note a point or two. 
I tend to think that far less than 20 seconds is spent. Probably between zero and seven seconds. I base this estimate on the kind of queries I receive by email from recruiters who have "searched" my resume. Further support for this estimate comes from the number one, almost universal first question which hiring interviewers always ask: "I know I have your resume here, BUT would you please describe your recent experience for me first, before we get started discussing the details ..."  
If I limit the content, as you suggest, the recruiter (or hirer) is still NOT going to see the most impressive items. He's never going to see them. Adding additional items will NOT be a distraction, because there has never been attention focused on the document in the first place. 
Furthermore,  if someone "flat-out" refuses to read a "long" resume -- and I challenge the notion that ANYTHING over a page or two can be, by any stretch of the imagination, considered "long," I want them to toss it. 
I'm interested in working with people who are able to  read, like to read, and, frankly, are not burdened by supporting detail and explanation. By the way, will the analysis documentation and specification of the software I produce be less than a page or two? Does it show a failure to properly delimit, prioritize and hierarchically organize if my documentation is longer than a page or two?
Finally, I would like to address the issue mentioned about prioritizing content. I agree that prioritizing content is extremely important. And for this reason, I do employ the reverse chronological method which is common and conventional. Experience becomes increasingly irrelevant as it ages, and so this approach allows a natural and organic tapering of emphasis. The reader can decide for himself at what point the experience becomes no longer relevant for consideration. Yet he can, if he wishes, follow the logic of the career path back from it's origins. Since this convention has a rationale, I will retain it.
After adding myself back into my resume and adopting a human tone, my resume is such a pleasure to read. I read every word of it out loud to myself before sending it on to the recruiter. The honesty of the whole document is just so refreshing. For instance, here are two of my favorite snippets:
  • When this naughty Government Sponsored Entity got caught cooking the books, I was brought in to provide a rules-engine based effort to re-cook those books, by reposting every trade from the bond model to the sub ledger and general ledger.
  • Naturally, my on-shore team had to re-develop everything “delivered” by the offshore team. 

I Remain,


Thursday, December 19, 2013

I Am The Audience

"Who do you write the blog for," Someone asked me today. The answer is simple, yet incredibly liberating. Plus, it's an answer everyone should copy. I write the blog for my own personal consumption.

I am the audience.

If anyone else enjoys it, that's gravy. It's all part of "my work, done my way." But this comes from something deeper and more fundamental. Let's start over with that, and progress forward. It's about:
  • "My thought, done my way."
and then:
  • "My work, done my way."
and then, naturally, the consequence is:
  • "My writing, done my way."

If you think about it, there really isn't a reasonable alternative. You can't think someone else's thoughts. You are the only one doing your work. And the same goes for your writing. Anything else is absurd. Like trying to digest the meal someone else ate. It just "ain't gonna work." So why try?

I've written before about the liberating power of not caring. When you don't care about the consequences of speaking the truth, it lifts a great weight from your spirit!

But this is not the advice I was given in college. Nor is it found in the many books on writing. They tell you to carefully consider your audience. But when you use TheHackerCIO's approach, and your audience is your self, and if you know yourself, then it's never a problem to write for that audience! You will know what you like and what you don't.  And coupling that with not caring about the consequences means it doesn't matter if you lose audience from a particular opinion. I write for myself and for those who are going my same direction: to discover those of similar mind and values; to seek those who are --ultimately -- like myself! So I can't possibly fail. Even if only a handful follow my blog, I've discovered the segment I want as readers. And if no one reads it but me, it's the best of all possible audiences.

It's a most demanding audience, by the way. I have tough, rigorous standards.

Naturally, you have to count the cost of this policy. You may publish things that get you kicked out of Senior IT Executive Forums. Same thing with asking questions. If you don't consider the audience or care about consequences, you might be asked to leave some Meetup. Or even a job. But do you really want to be part of such a forum, meetup, or workplace, where you must gingerly consider everything you're going to say? Where you must concern yourself, not about reality, answers, and  truth; but about whether your question or level of understanding will offend someone? Again, do you want to put yourself in an environment where your state of knowledge must be hidden from others, as you pretend to have a knowledge you lack? If you do choose this, note that you have hindered yourself from ever attaining a better understanding! You can only do it on the sly, without revealing your actual state.

That's not a way I'd want to live.

And neither should you.

I Remain,


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Bum's Rush for TheHackerCIO!

TheHackerCIO got The Bum's Rush from the LACTO Forum, effective today. Some gentle readers may not know what the "bum's rush" is, because today they call them homeless and respect their alternative lifestyle. The bum's rush is when you get "forcefully and abruptly ejected."

It happened Wed, but took effect today, Friday.

I thought the call was to ask me to speak in 2014, but was I ever wrong! It turns out that it was notification that the "invitation-only" forum no longer required my presence.

I was and remain, "persona non grata."

I was excommunicated, so to speak.

But TheHackerCIO has been excommunicated from larger and better groups than this, such as the Universal Body of Christ, for asking the wrong kind of questions, but that's another story for another day.

Interestingly, the grounds given for my abrupt expulsion after years of attendance was the same as the other time. For asking the wrong kind of questions. Or dumb ones. It's not really clear. I was told that "my questions were not thought to be up to the level of the group," which translated into regular English, means "You ask dumb questions."

But TheHackerCIO is thrilled! To be accused of "asking dumb questions," is an honor extraordinaire. First of all, TheHackerCIO follows a principle he learned from his stepfather: the "I'm just a poor sharecroppers son" principle. This principle requires a separate blog-posting to deal with completely, but let's leave it at this: my stepfather, who was quite sophisticated, educated, and charming,  would always say this when he wanted an explanation that reduced complexity to a manageable, normal, everyday, ordinary, man-in-the-street level. Ideas should be explicable, even complex ideas, with sufficient clarity that even a poor, unsophisticated "sharecropper's son" can grasp them. And I am never embarrassed by any question I have asked in seeking this level of clarity. Neither now, nor in the past. Nor in the future.  A desire to understand should NEVER be a source of shame, for anyone.

Best-Selling business writer Patrick Lencioni understands this same principle. In his highly recommended book on consulting ("Getting Naked"), he calls for people to "Ask Dumb Questions" (p: 206-7), and notes this:
Think about the times you've been in a room and had a question that you thought might be too obvious to ask. And then someone else asks it, and you look a them with a sense of gratitude and respect. That's how clients see us, if we have the courage to ask.
Apparently, that's not how the LACTO forum members feel!

Or, possibly, the forum member have an ulterior motive for booting TheHackerCIO out. I'm turning speculative here, but bear with me.  I'm going to ask two questions:

1. How likely is it that an extremely intelligent, perceptive, funny, easy-going, educated specialist in technology for decades would really ask too many low-quality questions?

2. How likely is it that the beliefs of someone strongly opinionated about the need for CTOs to be able to write code would offend a forum of CTOs where this opinion was voiced and shock was registered that he was the only one present who coded daily? Is it likely that such a group would kick him out rather than have him continually blogging and speaking about the need to be a Hacker as well as a CTO? Or maybe even just out of spite toward him for such beliefs?

I'll leave the answer to this as an exercise for the reader.

As an aside, TheHackerCIO's wife, a woman of extraordinary wisdom, warned him about his blog. "You know, you're not going to make any friends by telling people the truth the way you do," she told me. Amusingly, she warned me a few days before the ax fell. But TheHackerCIO decided when he started blogging that he was going to tell his truth, his way regardless of the consequences.

Will TheHackerCIO miss the forum? Yes. It would be "sour grapes" -- a form of dishonesty -- to claim that the sessions won't be missed. But TheHackerCIO doesn't want to associate with technologists who don't code or are OK with it being "5 years since I looked at coding," as one participant said. Or, if they really think my questions are "not up to level," or that simple questions ought not to be asked, or even that they can kick someone out for asking basic questions and not have it poison others against asking basic questions,  then they are complete idiots, and again, I don't want to associate with them. And one session in particular, I always hated, and won't miss, was the quarterly bitch-and-moan Roundtable for everyone about "What keeps you up at night?" I got nothing out of hearing the same old rehash from everyone on a quarterly basis.

But I can tell you what ought to have been keeping them up at night.

They haven't coded in 5 years.

I Remain,