Steve Yegge’s Resume Tips (The Not-So-Long-Winded Version)

by Joey deVilla on September 26, 2007

Wastebasket full of paperSteve Yegge, the programmer’s favorite cranky blogger from Google, has posted his Ten Tips for a (Slightly) Less Awful Resume.

Be advised that Steve does like to go on (and on). I personally don’t mind, but if you’re a little short on time, here are his 10 tips, each one reduced to the paragraph that captures its essence:

  1. Nobody cares about you. “Resume screening is just pattern matching. People are trying to figure out if you have the skills they’re looking for. If they could do this reliably without human intervention, so much the better. Screeners will like your resume best if it’s easy to scan visually, and stories about you and your fun-loving personality and fiercely loyal carnivorous parakeet and year-long hiking expedition in Tibet and blah Blah BLAH just don’t scan.”
  2. Use plain text. “Your resume is going to go through a bunch of automated transformation tools and will be mangled horribly along the way. Any non-ASCII character, such as those nonstandard Microsoft Word bullets, or any accented character, or (heaven help you) Unicode will be turned into our old favorite, the question-mark character (“?”).”
  3. Check, please! “Attend to your basic hygeine: spell-check, grammar-check, style-check.”
  4. Avoid weasel words. “Weasel Words are impressive-sounding verbs that make it sound like you did something useful, when in fact all you did was snork down chocolates from the big candy bowl in the conference room while other people did all the actual work.”
  5. Avoid wank words. “Wank Words are words that inflate your perceived importance (e.g. using “architected” rather than “designed”), or words that have simply become synonyms, such as “Rational UML Process”, for the so-called work done by people who sit on their asses and don’t know how to code anymore.”
  6. Don’t be a certified loser. “Don’t ever, ever use the word “certified” your resume. It’s far and away one of the most prominent red flags in resume screening, bordering on a dead-giveaway round-file 86-that-bad-boy no-review-required situation, if you know what I mean. (If you don’t know what I mean, well, you know the old saying about not knowing who the sucker is at the poker table.)”
  7. Don’t say “expert” unless you really mean it. “A friend of mine at Amazon once told me that he takes resumes that list “expertise” and he tells the candidate something along these lines: “Wow! You don’t often find true experts in fields like this. I feel like I’ve found a kindred spirit here. I don’t often do this, but I’m going to pick one of these technologies you’re an expert at, and we’re doing to do an incredibly deep technical dive on the subject. But before I start, is there anything you want to take off the resume?” He says it’s like truth serum.”
  8. Don’t tip your hand. “Resume writing is just like dating, or applying for a bank loan, in that nobody wants you if you’re desperate. And there are dozens of sure-fire little ways to let it slip out accidentally that you are, in fact, desperate, such as (just as one example) using the word “desperate” on the actual resume. Don’t do that.”
  9. Don’t bore us to death. “Seriously, take a close look at your resume and delete anything that seems obvious. If you worked at a company that everyone in the world has heard of, such as Microsoft or Amazon, then don’t spend time explaining to us what they do.”
  10. Don’t be a lying scumbag. “See, it’s like this: you’ll get caught. I’m still amazed at how many candidates think that the resume game is some variant of bingo, wherein all the words on your resume have optional invisible stars indicating whether you actually know something about that word, and you just cross your fingers hope the interviewer shouts out Bingo! after randomly selecting five starred words.”

Cross-posted to the Tucows Developer Blog.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: