The title of this blog post has nothing to do with Beyonce's new album. Well maybe it does; I suppose she titled her album that way to suit to her particular circumstances as I have done, but let me be clear that our circumstances are not the same. I'm titling my blog post this way as a play on the old cliché, "When life gives you lemons..." because I am finally making lemonade.
Since being laid off, I've completed Learn Verified, attended tons of Meetup groups, and started to teach myself new languages/frameworks. Additionally, I've recently been appointed as the co-chapter leader for Girl Develop It San Diego, and accepted an internship offer at Qualcomm. I'm so excited, I literally cannot stop smiling! Additionally, I've started exercising regularly, eating more healthfully, and practicing gratitude with daily affirmations. I'm so thankful for these turn of events.
I would love to continue this post detailing the lessons I've learned about myself during difficult times, but I think I'll save that for another day. Since finishing my code school bootcamp, I've been in career mode learning about the importance of networking, cover letters, resumes, and more, but I've yet to blog about the post bootcamp journey. So I'd like to take a second now and share some tips from the tech resume workshop event I attended last night.
As stated, last night's meetup was all about tech resumes. The first half were lightning talks from a panel of industry experts, including recruiters! After a brief intermission, the panel and audience reviewed and critiqued live resumes (including mine)! While normally the thought of this would terrify me, IT WAS SO HELPFUL. I will be redoing my resume as soon as I'm finished typing this post! Additionally, it was awesome to see different groups come together to support the tech community, including Dev Bootcamp, Learn Academy, Zeeto, Girl Develop It, Geek Girl, InnovaSystems International, and Qualcomm, facilitated by Sunny Datko and Michael Roberts Jr. I will do everything in my power to encourage a repeat of this event in the future, and/or an extension of it to cover tech interviews, for example. Of course, everyone has their own opinion for what a resume should/should not be, and each person's profile/education/experience will be different, but below are just some of tips I found to be helpful for my personal situations.
TOP 5 TECH RESUME TIPS:
- Employment gaps are a red flag. If you've been laid off but it has only been a few months, it's OK to leave your last position as "present", but clarify your layoff situation with the recruiter if contacted. Additionally, my resume has a two-year gap for when I decided to go back to school full-time. I COULD actually put the part time positions I had during this time but they were retail jobs, and not relevant to the tech world at all. It was suggested to combine my timeline under "experiences" instead of separating "work experience" from "education", so the dates are more fluid and a recruiter doesn't have to guess at what happened during what is perceived as a gap.
- 6 seconds rule = the time it takes for your resume to be judged as good or trash. This sounds harsh but imagine all the resumes recruiters have to filter through! Especially if they don't personally know you, you aren't special. How will you stand out? Take advantage of the "prime property" which is the information "above the fold", as if you were to fold a piece of paper in half. In my case, it was suggested that I move my education from the bottom to the top. Companies tend to have strong opinions about bootcamps. They either view me as being awesome that I've dedicated my energy to learning a new skill, and completed it, which shows potential in many areas. Or a company may be turned off by how "junior" I am. Additionally I have a bachelor's degree from UC San Diego which also shows dedication, even though it's in a non-tech related field. So I'll be updating my resume to show my education first, then my projects, skills, and so on since I my professional experience isn't my strongest point, coming from a non-tech background. However, if you are someone who has ten years of relatable experience, put that in your prime property.
- Use a word cloud app - Some companies, especially larger ones, don't even use human eyes to review resumes on the first round. Instead, they have some automated process that looks for keywords in its database of resumes. This site allows you to emulate this process by posting your resume and the job description, to see how you'd compare. Use this tool to beat the system. I've linked one but Google around for your fav. Be sure to tailor every resume to the job description for your best chances.
- Cover letters are outdated. Again, recruiters have to filter through a lot of content. Big blocks of paragraphs slows down this process. On that note, be sure to bullet point your experiences in your resume, using action verbs as the first word. It should be listed in chronological order, starting with your most recent experience. Additionally with every experience, there should be one less bullet point with 7 being the most for your current/recent position. If you live in San Diego/ West Coast, limit your resume to 1 page. If you live on the East coast, it's OK/preferable to have more than one page.
- PROOFREAD. I know you're saying "duh", but this is not a joke. Get as much feedback as you can from multiple people. If you have grammatical errors, typos, or misspellings, your resume will be trashed!!! <- ie. Don't use multiple exclamation points.
I could go on but I'm going to stop myself here. This was legit the most useful meetup event I've been to in a while and I hope these tips help you if you missed it.