I see a lot of resumes. Every 4 months, we hire from the University of Waterloo co-op program, which means I generally review about 500 resumes per year.
I’ve written before about how to stand out, and what to put on your resume (see this post). I’m really glad to see some resumes that are well designed, reference a personal website or portfolio, or have cover letters tailored towards the company and position.
However, I think it’s time for a post on what you shouldn’t put on a resume, based on themes I saw from recent resumes.
For a programming position, don’t put on your resume that you know how to use a web browser. I’ve seen resumes that say “Experienced with Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.” You also don’t have to put that you know Microsoft Office. Even if you’re in first year and don’t have a lot to write on your resume, this just devalues your resume. You’re applying for a programming position. Talk about how you know various languages or more about your specialties in each language.
Keep It Professional
I can’t believe I have to write this, but putting a link on your portfolio that points to a site that is full of profanities is terribly unprofessional. I have a pretty quirky sense of humour, but one portfolio I saw simply crossed the line. And imagine the folks that don’t have the sense of humour I do—what are they thinking of your site?
Always be professional, and remember that not everyone gets your humour. If you built a website but it is full of questionable content, just omit it from your portfolio.
Finally, remember that anything you publish on the web will be there forever, in some form or another.
Hobbies and Interests
I love seeing a quick note about hobbies and interests on a resume, because they give you a personality. Perhaps you’ll connect with the individual reviewing your resume, and be able to chat about a similar hobby during an interview.
That said, hobbies like “TV watching”, “watching movies with friends” and “playing video games” are not hobbies. They don’t highlight you as a candidate that is interesting. Hobbies such as “playing the flute”, “painting”, “writing a novel”, “making video games in C++”, “designing vintage posters in Photoshop”, “cooking Italian food”, “playing tennis”, etc. are hobbies you should highlight.
A GitHub account is not a replacement for a personal portfolio. You don’t have much time to capture the attention of the person reviewing your application. A personal portfolio that shows screenshots of projects you worked on, a description, and a downloadable demo or video demonstration is way more valuable than landing on a page with a bunch of code. All of these things quickly show the scope of the project you worked on (was it a real project or just a quick demo?) and also highlight your personal style and capabilities.
A reviewer won’t dig through your code to try to understand the scope of your projects from your GitHub account.
That said, after you’ve captured the attention of the reader, and they understand your skills or background, showing off your best code can be helpful. Link to your GitHub account from your website, and not as the main entry point from your resume.
You literally only have a few seconds to make an impression once a reviewer opens your resume for the first time. Get right to highlighting your skills, your personality and your interests…and skip the generic stuff.