DOs and DONTs of getting a development job

I have been accepting resumes for a while now trying to find developers for a client of mine.

I will be updating this article from time to time with new stuff.

DO have someone proofread your resume, cover letter, and email body.  Espically if you are not a native english speaker.  If you want your resume to go directly into the trash, then please, write your email with lots of grammer and spelling problems.

DON’T write in your cover letter that, while you don’t have the skills/experience they are looking for, you DO have the skills/experience that really matters.  You have just managed to tell the person reading your resume that a) you don’t have the skills they need, b) you think you are smarter than the person who came up with the needed skills/experience, and c) you are probably not easy to get along with.  All in the first sentence of your cover letter: BRAVO!

DON’T send a 9 page resume including every project you have ever worked on and details about said project.  I remember when I was told that resumes should be 1 page long (2 at the most) and I thought how wrong that was.  “My resme will be so awesome, 2 pages can’t contain it!”  I realized very quickly how wrong I was.  I don’t need to know the specifics of some project you worked on for 3 months back in 2002, and I don’t need to know a list of every programming langauge, technique, or technology that you have ever touched. 

DO supply a cover letter, or at least turn your email into your cover letter.  It will get you bonus points.

DON’T include a stupid signature on your emails.  I actually received a resume that was signed like this:


If fishes could talk they’d ask for legs

Ok I guess that is somewhat funny in a Jack Handy kinda way, but it really doesn’t belong on an job application email.

DON’T list “Internet Connection Technologies” that you have experience with.  I swear I got a resume with this as the 2nd heading (after education).  It listed “AOL Dial Up, AOL High Speed DSL, SBC DSL”.  Before you start thinking, ok well maybe these were projects they worked on, you know, like working on the team to create AOL’s dial up service… no this was not what they meant, it was clear from the rest of the resume.

DON’T just make up stuff if you don’t know the answer to a question.  This isn’t the ACT: there are penalities for guessing (it makes you look really stupid).  Now clearly there is a difference between making an educated guess (or talking in generalities instead of specifics) and trying to totally pull something out of thin air.  I recently interviewed a candidate who said he didn’t have any project experience using AJAX but was aware of AJAX technologies.  So I asked him, can you explain how AJAX works?  I wasn’t expecting much, just something about using client side script to make calls to the server w/o reloading the entire page.  Instead the answer we got back was “It’s like JAVA running on top of Microsoft.”  Up until that point I hadn’t decided if this guy was qualified, and had he simply said “No, I am sorry I am not that familiar with AJAX” I probably would have still been considering him, but his terrible attempt at an answer removed all doubt that he was not qualified.

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