Thursday, December 07, 2006

some advice for job seekers

A member of the free software community recently sent me their CV and asked for assistance in getting a job. Some of my suggestions are globally applicable so I'm blogging them.

Firstly I recommend that a job seeker doesn't publish their CV on the net in an obvious place. Often you want to give different versions to different people, and you don't necessarily want everyone to know about the work you do. I can't imagine any situation in which a potential employer might view a CV on the net if it's available but not ask for one if it isn't there. If you are intensively looking for work (IE you are currently between jobs) then I recommend having a copy of your CV in a hidden URL on your site. This means that if you happen to meet a potential employer you can give them a URL so that they can get your CV quickly, but the general public can't view it. A final problem with publishing your CV is that it may cause disputes with former colleagues (EG if you describe yourself as the most skilled programmer in the team then a former colleague who believes themself to be more skillful might disagree).

Next don't put your picture on your CV. In some jurisdictions it's apparently illegal for a hiring officer to consider your appearance. If there are many CVs put forward for the position then it may be easier to just discard yours because of this. There is absolutely no benefit to having the picture, unless of course you are applying for a job as an actor. Incidentally I've considered applying for work as an movie extra. The amount of effort involved is often minimal (EG pretend to drink beer in the back of a bar scene) and the pay is reasonable. It seems like a good thing to do when between computer contracts.

I write my CV in HTML and refuse to convert it. If a recruiting agent can't manage to use IE to print my CV then they are not competent enough to represent me. If a hiring manager can't manage to view my CV with IE then I don't want to report to them. However I recommend against using HTML features that make a document act in any way unlike a word-processor file. There should be no frames or CSS files so there is only one file to email, and the text should be all on one page so the PGDN and PGUP keys can scroll through all the content. Tables, bold, and italic are good, fonts are a minor risk. Colors are bad.

Recruiting agents will often demand that your CV be targeted for the position that you are applying for. I often had complaints such as "I see only sys-admin skills not programming". To solve this I wrote my CV in M4 and used a Makefile to generate multiple versions at the same time. If a recruiter wants a version of my CV emphasising C programming and using Linux then I've already got one ready!

These are just a few thoughts on the topic based on a CV that I just saw. I may write more articles about getting jobs in the computer industry if there is interest.


Joost said...

I like the idea of writing my CV in M4 -- but I GPL everything I write without getting paid for, and in that case, I'd almost feel I have to GPL my CV:).

Ari said...

I disagree with most of the points in this post, especially since I got my current job because I have my resume on my website, and I've had other offers for the same reason. Even though I have a much more nicely-formatted version I give to potential employers during an interview, I don't find having a searchable copy online to be a disadvantage in any respect.
Not having a picture on your resume should go without saying, though.

Gunnar Wolf said...

It depends on _why_ you want to put your CV online. Mine is easily found in my webpage (not linked from the main page, though), and it focus on where I've spoken (if for anything, because it's the bulk of it ;-) ). Of course, I'm not available for hire, and am not looking somebody to pay me more than the University (although it should not be hard to get) - I want people inviting me to a conference to know if I'm the person that fits their program, how to approach me, and what topics will I cover :)

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic, please write more if you have some spare time.

Kenneth said...

any possibility of more info on your toolchain for the résumé output?

I liked the article. You're on my rss feed reader.