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Can experienced programmers take a look at my resume?

This is a discussion on Can experienced programmers take a look at my resume? within the Tech Board forums, part of the Community Boards category; Can I get some criticism on my resume? Things such as highlighting and listing relevant information, etc. I'm looking for ...

  1. #1
    Registered User MutantJohn's Avatar
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    Can experienced programmers take a look at my resume?

    Can I get some criticism on my resume? Things such as highlighting and listing relevant information, etc. I'm looking for entry-level/junior positions and am a somewhat fresh graduate.

    I have also never professionally been a programmer so all my listed experience is all that I've got. The format came out weird because I just copy-pasted it but I can assure you that the formatting is proper on my version.

    /* Begin resume */

    EDUCATION
    University of California, Santa Cruz - Santa Cruz, CA
    Bachelor of Science, Physics - March 2013
    Completed courses in scientific computing, data structures and algorithms
    Senior thesis was an in-depth study of advanced cosmological simulation algorithms and techniques


    PROJECTS:
    Regulus - April 2013 – present
    Lead and sole programmer of an open source 3D Delaunay triangulation (self-repairing tetrahedral mesh) code written in C++. Regulus employs an incremental insertion algorithm of vertices and uses a treewalk as a means of point location within the mesh. Development is continuous and current aspects of implementation are replacing recursion and adding multithreaded support.


    COMPUTER SKILLS:
    Languages: C, C++, CUDA, IDL, Java
    Operating Systems: Unix, Linux (Arch, Ubuntu), Windows XP, 7
    Software: MS Office, LibreOffice, LaTeX, gedit, Code::Blocks, Gadget-2 (simulation code)


    WORK SAMPLES:
    Online portfolio: https://github.com/..........


    EXPERIENCE:


    DP Technology, Camarillo, CA
    Summer - Fall 2008
    Data Entry Clerk


    Under the direction of a software product manager, updated machine values in a database that was
    utilized by a Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) system. Accuracy of the data was critical for
    the correct output of NC machining values.


    Intelligent Creations LLC, Ventura, CA
    Summers 2005 - 2006
    Associate Technical Writer


    Worked part-time under supervision of company owner to incorporate edits, check spelling and
    grammar, and write copy for newsletters.
    Updated information in the Vignette content management system (now OpenText) for an ERP software developer in Santa Barbara.
    Fixed broken hyperlinks in web content.
    Researched information for newsletters for a Camarillo landscape supplier.
    Verified instruction manuals for a CAM developer in Camarillo.


    VOLUNTEER WORK:


    American Red Cross, Camarillo, CA
    Summer 2009


    Transcribed paper copies of addresses and other relevant information into an Excel spreadsheet to create mailing labels used to contact various Red Cross affiliates (members, volunteers).

  2. #2
    SAMARAS std10093's Avatar
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    I am not an experienced one for sure.
    Is CUDA a programming language? I thought that it was in the same category as MPI, openMp, etc.

    Moreover, the excel seem too common in my eyes. If you have just a little experience in Latex, then why not writing your resume there? Here is how I did it.
    Code - functions and small libraries I use


    It’s 2014 and I still use printf() for debugging.


    "Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute. " —Harold Abelson

  3. #3
    Registered User MutantJohn's Avatar
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    I think you're right about CUDA in that it's just an API or whatever you call that but I was more or less just looking for an analysis of the content, mostly my project desciriptions in particular. Or project description, rather I should say.

    A recruiter also told me to put more buzzwords in there as well. What kind of buzzwords would be useful for me? I'm mostly looking to turn my project into a CFD code (computational fluid dynamics).

  4. #4
    Captain Crash brewbuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MutantJohn View Post
    Can I get some criticism on my resume? Things such as highlighting and listing relevant information, etc. I'm looking for entry-level/junior positions and am a somewhat fresh graduate.
    I look at resumes and interview candidates frequently, for software development and research positions. For somebody fresh out of school, your resume looks fine but on the flip side, I don't see anything that stands out a whole lot.

    Suggestions would be the following:

    If your senior thesis is posted online somewhere, include a link to it at the END of your resume under a section called "Publications." If you've written any other papers that are available online or in journals, include those as well. If it's not available online, print a copy and take it to the interview. You might not end up using it but at least you have it.

    Include a specialized cover sheet along with your resume for each and every job you apply for. The cover sheet should not be a book, just write a paragraph or two about why you are attracted to the company and position you are applying for. This reduces the perception that you are just slamming resumes out of a printing press and mass mailing them to anyone who will listen.

    While it's true that HR filter drones use buzzwords to winnow down the pile, don't put anything in there that you really wouldn't be able to back up if questioned during the interview. "I glanced at a VB manual once" isn't enough experience to honestly put "VB" on a resume. That said, if you have experience in it, go ahead and put it in the same section where you're dumping all your other buzzwords.

    Try to avoid gimmicks. The line between a gimmick and an impressive bit of purposeful resume-writing is sometimes blurry however. Just use some common sense.

    When it comes time for interviews I have suggestions there as well if you are interested. Good luck.
    Sebastiani likes this.
    Code:
    //try
    //{
    	if (a) do { f( b); } while(1);
    	else   do { f(!b); } while(1);
    //}

  5. #5
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    Don't worry about buzzwords. In the programming world technical people evaluate resumes, not HR (at least you won't want to work at a place where HR evaluates resumes).

    It's very hard to write resumes when you don't have much relevant experience, but I still wouldn't spend too much length on unrelated work/volunteer experience/etc.

    Projects would be the 1 area that I would really focus on. Almost all the interviews I've been to (~25 by now), both for internship and full time positions, the interviewers spent ~80% of the time talking about personal projects and (relevant) prior work experience.

    If you graduated from university already, you should have way more than just 1 project.

    For example, here is my resume (work in progress): Matthew Lai

    I'm a new graduate as well (graduated couple months ago).

    80% of my resume is technical projects, and interviewers seem to really like that. I never had trouble finding jobs.

  6. #6
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    Brewbuck covered most of the big stuff. A few other thoughts:

    1. Good job using an active voice and avoiding repeating useless stuff like "I did..." and "I worked on...".
    2. The cover letter never hurts, but it also can't hurt to tweak your resume to each job. Sometimes this is just a bit of wording, or highlighting different projects, etc you're working on. Related school projects are good here.
    3. Some people say put your GPA, some say don't. Whenever I see a resume with a good GPA on it, I consider it a plus. If it's not there, I'm fairly neutral. This is more true since you're fairly fresh out of school, without lots of related experience. After you have several years under your belt, employers care more about work experience than education, so GPA and coursework details can be omitted.
    4. It's good you have a sizable personal project that you're working on. A sentence about it's potential applications might be good, showing you understand the bigger picture (and be prepared to answer lots of questions about this when you get an interview).
    5. Props on having volunteer work you can list (and bonus points from me for it being Red Cross). It wouldn't hurt to get back into volunteering a bit, since you're not working. A few hours a week at the local Red Cross, a soup kitchen, Goodwill or anything really. This (like your personal project) shows you're not a lazy bum while unemployed, and it gives you another (very positive) dimension.
    6. If you have any other non-programming skills that are useful, you might list them in an "other" sections. Foreign languages, certifications, use of specialized equipment, etc.


    Also, as to cyberfish's comment about HR evaluating resumes. Yes, you should avoid a place where non-technical people are responsible for the bulk of the hiring decision, however that is very few places (in my experience). It's very common, in companies large and small, to have a "first-stage" filter that is fairly superficial filter. Sometimes it's the companies HR department, or a head hunter, or an administrative assistant. Most companies don't want to pay engineers their salary to be what is essentially a glorified spam filter. After you get past that stage, technical people usually evaluate the resume to decide if they want to interview you.

  7. #7
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    Lead and sole programmer of an open source 3D Delaunay triangulation (self-repairing tetrahedral mesh) code written in C++.
    o_O

    This reads as "I also have a pet project.". There is nothing wrong with having a pet project, but it also isn't really a great sale. Most every programmer ever has a pet project they created and work on by themselves. Commercially produced software is rarely developed in such isolation so I see this as being interesting yet meaningless.

    I'm not saying you should remove the line; I just don't think it adds anything. You'd do better, in my opinion, to take up with another project and get noticed contributing in that way. Until you can manage that, consider placing "Regulus" as a second, possibly primary, label under "Work Example"; you still get to brag about the experience without so much of the "Yeah, me too!" flavor.

    Software: MS Office, LibreOffice, LaTeX, gedit, Code::Blocks, Gadget-2 (simulation code)
    Operating Systems: Unix, Linux (Arch, Ubuntu), Windows XP, 7
    I get what you are trying for, but that reeks of padding.

    Let me explain a little, "MS Office" and "LibreOffice" are, at this point, alarmingly generic office software.

    I see the same with listing two flavors of "GNU/Linux" and two flavors of "Windows".

    Listing those, to me, as an engineer/software developer says "I don't have a more specific skill to brag about.".

    Seriously, you have "computer skills" with four extremely popular operating systems? Well, okay, can you name someone who doesn't?

    I'd suggest you find a way to generalize your experience over the "diversity" of different systems; you still brag about your experience, but those characteristics seem subtly more impressive if well presented. You are, basically, shooting for the impression "This guy knows how to find his way around different operating systems." not "This guy knows Windows 7.".

    Transcribed paper copies of addresses and other relevant information into an Excel spreadsheet to create mailing labels used to contact various Red Cross affiliates (members, volunteers).
    Volunteer work is great, but people don't like to know they are being manipulated when they are being manipulated.

    Consider massaging "VOLUNTEER WORK:" and simple, something you can't brag about specifically, open source contributions under "Other Work Experience:" so you can drop the description. (The reason for dropping being that is sounds like you did the job of a secretary/optical character recognition. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that, and you'll likely do more of that work as a junior regardless, but you don't want the implication wondering around the brains of potential employers that text entry was something work specifically mentioning.) As before, you can still brag about it, but the bragging is a little more subtle, and you can always provide more specifics if it comes up.

    Soma
    “Often out of periods of losing come the greatest strivings toward a new winning streak.” -- Fred Rogers
    “Salem Was Wrong!” -- Pedant Necromancer

  8. #8
    Registered User MutantJohn's Avatar
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    phantom, how should I generalize my experience with Linux operating systems? Should I just put it down as, "At home in a Unix/Linux environment (customization, configuration, troubleshooting)" and should I just leave off the part about Windows, assuming it's implied? I feel like a lot of employers (especially now that I'm going to be applying to a lot of data entry jobs now) will wonder if I can use a Windows environment because that's all they use. Should I count on them piecing the dots together that I can sit in front of a computer and kind of wing it 'til I figure it out?

    Also, I have no idea what you mean about my volunteer experience. I'm not exactly listing it in the hopes that a software engineer will go, "Oh my God, this guy's amazing!" I only did it because I read a thing on LinkedIn about how sometimes companies will look favorably on someone who volunteers their time and judging by anduril's post, it's true. So should I just replace it with, "Performed voluntary data entry for the Red Cross"?

    As for the Office softwares, do I just assume my experience with them is implied as well?

    And as for the project, I'll probably just put Work Samples on top and move the link or I'll just label the section as Pet Projects. Then again, I do like it labelled as Projects. It's kind of all that I've got and I would guess you're right about every programmer having a pet project but if I was a hiring manager, I'd be really interested in what someone's passion is. Pet projects are what people hold most dear to their hearts and I think that says a lot about them.

  9. #9
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    phantom, how should I generalize my experience with Linux operating systems?[...]Pet projects are what people hold most dear to their hearts and I think that says a lot about them.
    O_o

    I can't answer most of your questions.

    Well, I can, but I may be wrong!

    You see, a big part of even getting a "face-to-face", to say nothing of getting the job, is grabbing not just attention but the right kind of attention.

    Making a really good resume is about bragging, manipulation, and psychology.

    Unfortunately, how phrases are interpreted is not universal; the wording I would suggest may bring you the wrong kind of attention.

    Let's take the volunteer work as an example: you say "I'm not exactly listing it in the hopes that a software engineer will go, "Oh my God, this guy's amazing!"" but then instantly confess that "I only did it because I read a thing on LinkedIn about how sometimes companies will look favorably on someone who volunteers their time".

    In other words, you are, basically, saying that you want to attract the right kind of favorable attention by explicitly noting some of the volunteer work you've done.

    The people at "LinkedIn", also anduril462, are not wrong. Virtually everyone loves to see volunteer work on resumes. I put some of my volunteer work on college applications. The practice is common and recommended.

    However, as I said, people don't like to know they are being manipulated when they are being manipulated. If you are seen as trying to manipulate the interviewer, by the interviewer, they will only reward you with, very naturally, with the kind of attention you don't want from interview.

    Yes, the interviewer goes into the interview knowing that the candidate will attempt to manipulate the situation. If you are to obvious, the interviewer will, I can pretty much guarantee, start looking hard for other signs of manipulation. If you get that kind of bad attention, suddenly, the things that seem fine and good may be seen as suspect.

    Let me put it this way, I'm not telling you not to brag about everything you've bragged about; I'm only telling you to brag about yourself better.

    Still looking at the volunteer work, I would read exactly what you have now as an attempt to manipulate me into thinking "Hey, this guys is a good fellow.", and you may not see a problem with that, but a good interviewer will. Don't get me wrong; interviewers want "good people" hired, but mostly what an interviewer wants is someone who can do the job. If I start feeling that attempt to manipulate me wondering around my head I'm much more likely to start looking for other flaws, and that is a much bigger problem that a lot of candidates realize. You don't want your interviewer thinking about any problems. Sure, as before, the interviewer knows you have problems, but you want them focused on your awesome.

    I'm not going to recommend specific wording or anything like that because I don't know where you live or are applying for the job. (Yes, you should tailor your resume to locale and expectations of the people belonging to the place you want to work.) You'll have to decide that for yourself, but again, I'm not telling you to drop the bragging over volunteer work. I'm telling you to play the volunteer work as something you have done, are proud of having done, yet without making it *feel* like a bullet point.

    With the right wording, the right placement, the interviewer will see the volunteer work as a plus, being that you are obviously sociable and socially conscious, without so much as raising an eyebrow.

    Yes, with the right resume, the interviewer has very definitely been manipulated, but the interviewer never feels, or even notices being, manipulated.

    Soma
    “Often out of periods of losing come the greatest strivings toward a new winning streak.” -- Fred Rogers
    “Salem Was Wrong!” -- Pedant Necromancer

  10. #10
    Registered User MutantJohn's Avatar
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    Oh, I see what you're saying now. But I'm not trying to manipulate the interview at all. I'm just trying to show that I did some volunteer work in area where I already had some experience and it was pleasant. Manipulating, to me, is like tricking someone or trying to twist their view. I don't personally see it as bragging and maybe that's why my resumes are lame.

    I read that article and saw that listing volunteer work was a thing to do and I'm really low on experience so I need anything I can get. I almost think you're looking too far into it or at least, my intentions with mentioning volunteer work are certainly not what you think I was intending to do. I'm not trying to manipulate anyone. I'm just trying to present myself as I am. I don't think I used any heavy jargon or wording that makes me come off as trying to sound like I'm better than I am or I did something more glorious than it actually was. I created mailing labels and that's what I wrote.

  11. #11
    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    I almost think you're looking too far into it or at least, my intentions with mentioning volunteer work are certainly not what you think I was intending to do.
    ^_^

    That is exactly my point.

    I went in to this exactly one way: as if I was considering hiring you... and left with the impression you were trying to pad your resume and manipulate the interviewer.

    I'm not trying to be harsh, and I'm not saying that you are being foul in trying to manipulate people with some malicious intent. You want to get good attention for yourself so maybe you can get a good job. I see nothing wrong with that, and I think you'd be silly to see anything wrong with it.

    I also think it would be silly for you to not get a job because someone like me who looks hard gets your resume.

    Soma
    “Often out of periods of losing come the greatest strivings toward a new winning streak.” -- Fred Rogers
    “Salem Was Wrong!” -- Pedant Necromancer

  12. #12
    CSharpener vart's Avatar
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    IMHO the keywords from COMPUTER SKILLS section should be encountered at least once elsewhere - proving you have actually used each of the tools listed during actual work...

    For example job description of DataCleck could include usage of MS Office

    And job description of Technical writer - TeX...

    Since the actual programmers job is understandably lacking - I would add description of course projects performed during study.
    For example your thesis probably include not only research but also writing of some program during it. So add the sentence describing the written program purpose and tools used like - Engine written in C++ and GUI part in Java.
    The first 90% of a project takes 90% of the time,
    the last 10% takes the other 90% of the time.

  13. #13
    Registered User MutantJohn's Avatar
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    Oooh, I like that. I did a lot of simulation runs in Gadget-2 (whose interface is manipulating C source files) and then I did the data analysis in IDL. That's actually a really good idea, thank you, Vart.

  14. #14
    11DE784A SirPrattlepod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phantomotap View Post

    [...]

    Still looking at the volunteer work, I would read exactly what you have now as an attempt to manipulate me into thinking "Hey, this guys is a good fellow.", and you may not see a problem with that, but a good interviewer will. Don't get me wrong; interviewers want "good people" hired, but mostly what an interviewer wants is someone who can do the job. If I start feeling that attempt to manipulate me wondering around my head I'm much more likely to start looking for other flaws, and that is a much bigger problem that a lot of candidates realize. You don't want your interviewer thinking about any problems. Sure, as before, the interviewer knows you have problems, but you want them focused on your awesome.

    [...]

    Yes, with the right resume, the interviewer has very definitely been manipulated, but the interviewer never feels, or even notices being, manipulated.
    You're not paranoid are you?

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