I know apps
A very good friend of mine - not a programmer but a very technical IT professional - sent me their resume to review today and I noticed how the top part of the resume contained a lot of applications, technologies, keywords and acronyms.
At what point do we as a subculture need to stop doing this?
It's so ironic that the most technical amongst us without jobs are asked to create a resume to be consumed by the least technical so that they might facilitate an introduction to the very technical people with jobs to give. Some larger companies *cough*Nike*cough* are rumored to use high speed scanners and OCR to hunt for keywords and assign a weight value to a resume. This just results in us padding our resumes with every TLA (three letter acronym) we've ever encountered.
And why are we still listing Word and Excel? Has anyone missed out on an opportunity or lost a job when they forgot to add Microsoft Office? At what point in an industry or a level of experience does it become compulsory to know these tools?
Aside: Ever get a resume in Microsoft Word format then press the little Paragraph Mark toolbar button that shows tabs and spaces as characters? Not to sound too judgey or anything, but if you really want to know if someone knows Word or not, explore some of the insane feats that the uninitiated can do with a few thousand ill-conceived tabs or spaces.
I am less interested in whether you know Word or Excel and more interested if you know, for example, about iCal files. Could you subscribe to an iCal feed in a calendaring app? (Any calendaring app, to be clear) Could you write a program that creates a feed like this? Do you understand structured data, the many ways to store it and the many ways to move it from place to place?
I am less interested in the fact you have "Mozilla" on your list of Apps you're an "expert" at, and more interested in your understanding of HTTP and what certain headers do, how caching works and how mime-types enable browsers to launch apps. Do you know why bookmarklets are interesting? Why Greasemonkey is useful?
Are you a user? Are you a Real User? Do you actually use the hell out of your applications, your phones, your web sites, the Web itself?
I am less interested in your experience with Basecamp and more interested in how you implemented Agile at your last job. Did you use Scrum or Scrummerfall? What worked and what didn't and more importantly, do you know why?
I blogged years ago how funny it was that folks work for five-plus years to get the privilege of putting ",PhD" at the end of their names, but computer people take a 45 minute test and tack on ",A+,MCSD,MCP,MCSE+I" without a thought.
Why don't we include projects rather than companies on our resumes? How about a little post-mortem with some details about what worked and what didn't and why? Do you have 20 years experience or do you have the same 1 year of experience twenty times?
Do you know how to make text dance? There's a big difference between the XMLs, CSVs, vCards and open text formats of the world and the PSDs and proprietary binary formats of the world. Other than Adobe products that do years to master, I am going to assume you know how to use an application. I'm assuming you've seen a mouse, get the concept behind hotkeys and you can type, although perhaps that's too much to assume.
If you're truly able to make Excel dance or you spent a summer writing a TCP driver, by all means, tell us. If you wrote your own SQL lexer, you're a special person. But instead of a list of applications you know, tell a story about your successes and failures and the applications and technologies that played starring roles in your experiences.
I like what StackOverflow Careers is doing in this space in that a listing emphasizes not just what you've done, but also what you've written and what you've read. The list of technologies only happens in the context of projects you've worked on. Here's an invite if you want to try it. This is not an ad link or an affiliate code. They have advertised on my podcast once before, but I mention them here because their resumes present a more well-rounded picture of an engineer. My profile is at http://careers.stackoverflow.com/shanselman.
Personally, I think on my next resume I'll just put this:
I know apps.