Uncharted Waters

Feb 16 2016   8:47AM GMT

An Honest Resume

Justin Rohrman Justin Rohrman Profile: Justin Rohrman

job search skills

How honest is your resume, really?

I am a member of an old school yahoo group themed around software testing. It is mostly inactive now but every once in a while a new topic will come through and reignite the group.  Last week the topic was when it is appropriate to lie on a resume. The answer is obvious: never. It is never appropriate to lie about experience on a resume.

There are systems, I mean that literally and figuratively, that encourage dishonesty in job hunters. There is also a way out of the mess if you’re willing to do some work.

People like to day things were simpler in the good old days, and for the most part I think that is exactly wrong. But, for my parents generation, applying to a job was just easier. Fewer people were getting a university education at the time, so instead of the barrier to entry it is now, it made you stand out. Aside from that, you apply where you know someone, and then stay there. Maybe for the duration of your working life. I probably don’t need to point out how rare that is now.

More applicants created problems of volume. How do you deal with not just ten resumes coming in for one job, but the hundreds that we get from websites like Monster or Dice? Enter filtering software stage left. These tools are used to HR to filter for terms like ‘3 years Perl’ experience, and ‘ISTQB certified tester’ to reduce a pile of a hundred resumes to maybe 20 that have to be looked at by a person. Now, people have been stretching the truth since the beginning of time, but filtering software encourages that behavior. Applicants know very well that there is no nuance to a search. Software doesn’t care that you might be a near-expert after just a couple of years.

honest resume

Walmart style job search websites and the filtering tools they coexist with have turned the honest resume into an endangered species. The people writing these resumes are of course responsible for the content, but these tools also encourage stretching the truth.

Connection Economy

Seth Godin writes about something he calls the connection economy. In an industrialized system, someone has to lose for me to win. I need to outsmart filtering tool by saying I have a couple years of experience in TDD testing when in reality I just dabbled with a tool a few times. That false edge gets interviews while the honest folks don’t even get a second look.

The connection economy flattens that out.

After about two years of working in the software business, I knew I wanted to go independent. I had no clue how to make that happen, but I knew that was the right direction. A few years later, I started going to conferences, because that’s what an ambitious young software tester does. After a few of those I started seeing the same people. I was walking to get dinner with my co-blogger Matt at one of those conferences, talking about the things I didn’t like about full time employment and he said “Have you thought abut becoming a contractor”?

You’re probably saying…but I have no desire to go independent. That’s fine, the connection economy exists for day jobs too. Local meetups are the life hack for job hunters. Maybe life hack isn’t the right phrase. I occasionally see people come in and out of these to network, otherwise known as try to get a job.

My connections were built slowly enough that I didn’t realize it was happening. The connection economy is like creating a savings account. You spend a few dollars now and get a few bucks back in interest sometime in the future.

2  Comments on this Post

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  • ExpatZ

    You started off with a point and in the end you seemed to lose the plot.

    So how does the connection economy flatten the market so that those of us who don't lie can get an even break against those that do?

    You trailed off there at the end.

    10 pointsBadges:
  • TheRealRaven
    It flattens it out by allowing you to bypass it.

    By leveraging connections, you can get a foot into a position that suits you. That's what the next couple paragraphs illustrated. In the case of Justin, a "connection" helped him get moving in an independent direction. For those who won't or can't go independent, connections made through local/regional user groups or other "meetups" can provide direction for job changes.

    I'm in full agreement with Justin. After my initial 5 year stint, the rest of my 40+ year career has been facilitated by "connections" either made locally or through frequent participation in on-line bulletin boards  or forums.

    I resigned from my first professional position to accept an offer from a "connection". That was the only time in my career that I had a job waiting upon leaving a current job. After that, I never went more than two weeks before good work came to me. Connections always brought opportunity, and each one improved on the previous.
    36,095 pointsBadges:

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