Resume & Job Search Secrets I Used Resulting in 17 Callbacks over 3 Weeks

Typical Technology Industry Hiring LIfecycle

Looking for a new career or new role in technology? While job searching do you struggle to get callbacks? Most of us learn how to write a resume in high school or university…that’s all worthless. You may have used the “spray n’ pray” method of job searching, but that doesn’t produce results either…does it? This article is going to provide you with the secrets and tools I have used that resulted in seventeen callbacks and over a dozen interviews in just three weeks (referencing the opening graphic, this artcile focuses on getting you more “Callbacks”).

You might be saying to yourself, “What are you selling here buddy?”. I am selling NOTHING. No links asking you to signup for some wretched email list. I just like helping people. In the past I’ve helped my friends receive more callbacks for interviews resulting in being hired quicker than they could imagine…just by using the secrets I am about to share with you.

Oddly enough, three weeks ago I became unemployed for the first time in over ten years. By applying the information and using the tools in this article, my job search has resulted in seventeen callbacks and over a dozen interviews! That means I am averaging over one callback per day.

Prior to learning these techniques, I used the same resume writing skills taught by every school and university in America. I had paid career coaches to do all the right things, and when I did everything they said then they said perhaps I was under/over-qualified to the positions for which I was applying. Sadly, I started to believe them. I was rarely receiving callbacks or being invited to interviews for positions which I knew I was qualified to do. But trust me, the career coaches and schools were wrong and here is why…

In 2006, my wife introduced me to someone who shared resume and job search secrets that changed everything.

#1 Fix Your Crappy Resume

In 2006 while searching for a full-time position, I struggled to get hired or even callbacks let alone interviews. Weeks of applying online would only result in one or perhaps two callbacks for phone interviews. I was beyond frustrated, on unemployment, and my wife was carrying our family’s financial load with her full-time position.

She loves her job, and I wanted a job I could love too! She was always meeting new people and telling me stories of how she was able to help people (she works for the airlines and still does). One of the people she had developed a professional relationship with just happened to be a (former) C-suite executive in HR for one of the largest banks in America. During one of their conversations, she shared that I was struggling to find work. He gave her his card and said, “Have him contact me and I will help by fixing his resume.”

Being the young hot-head I was, I thought, “Wait a minute!? I’ve spent countless hours writing and refining my resume, how could this pretentious, pompous, doodie-head possibly know if my resume is broken without ever seeing it?”
Boy was I wrong…

He informed me about how he and his staff reviewed ~5,000 resumes weekly for people applying for a huge variety of positions and he only had a few seconds to review each resume and it would end up in one of two piles, the callback or the trash.

Doing the math, a person working full-time ONLY evaluating resumes would have 5.6 seconds to get through 5,000 resumes per week. Highly competitive companies like Google receive ~2M applicants per year which means even less time, which is why they automate the process, but those automated systems are using the same secrets shared here to evaluate your resume.

Critical Resume Structure and Data Recommendations

  • Tailor your resume to the job type for which you are applying. If you’re applying for a QA Software Engineer position, then your resume should highlight the experiences you have with those systems and the results you achieved while using them!
  • No more than two (2) pages long
  • BE HONEST (don’t fluff your resume, that’s a quick way to lose your job)
  • White paper, black copy (don’t try to stand out, unless the job is DESIGN or ART specific)
  • Center your name (bold) and contact information at the top
  • Next, add Professional Experience: Comma-separated list of job titles you have held throughout your career (or if no job, remove Professional Experience and bump up Education)
  • After that, add Education on two lines like this:
    Purdue University 2001–2005 GPA @ graduation: 3.67
    Major: Mechanical Engineering Technology
  • Next, add a comma-separated list of skills by skill level, with specific skills, tools, libraries, processes, experiences. See my resume for an example:- Mastery Experience (4+ years continuous use)
    - Proficient Experience (1–3 years continuous use)
    - Novice Experience (< 1 year continuous use)
  • NOTE: On skills, remove the “Novice Experience” if you have strong Proficient and Mastery Experience lists (beef yourself up on your strengths)
  • Then, add critical items for the job you are applying: legal titles, medical titles, technical titles, or security clearances you have
  • Then, add systems, machinery, devices, or equiment you can use
  • Next add recent Work History with 3 recent job listings as follows:
    Company Name
    Your Title — StartDate-EndDate
    * No MORE than five (5) Bulleted List of BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENTS
  • Finally, add Work History going back up to 10 years, but for these older items do not include the BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENTS list

Here is my resume as an example for you to reference. Once you have tailored your resume for the job roles you want, you might think you are ready to start your job searching, but in this next section I am going to share some of my own experience’s (school of hard knocks) to make sure you are really really ready to start your job search.

# 2 Luck Favors the Prepared

One of my favorite quotes was from Edna Mode in the movie, The Incredibles, by Pixar. “Luck favors the prepared”.

Years of job searching experience in the 21st century have taught me some valuable lessons. I want to help you be prepared for a successful job search.

1) Make sure you have a current profile on LinkedIn. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile yet (or it is out of date), go create or update your LinkedIn profile NOW!!! You may not know it, but LinkedIn is the career source used by modern companies (this is especially true for technology professionals). Also, connect with people whom you meet in person, or follow/connect with people who are industry leaders in the profession you want to be hired. Here is my profile for your reference (feel free to follow me). For software writers, this can also be having a Github profile which demonstrates your dedication to contribution, or having a Stackoverflow profile showing that you are engaged in the software development community.

2) Have your resume handy in commonly used formats. Companies have different requirements for the file format in which they will accept your resume. You should make sure you have your resume in ALL of the following file formats:

  • Microsoft Word (you can use Google Drive, Open Office, or Libre Office to create a .doc or .docx [aka: Microsoft Word file] format)
  • PDF (you can use Google Drive to create a PDF version of your resume)
  • RTF (Rich Text File)
  • Plain Text (used for copy/paste operations)
  • Google Drive (many job application forms allow you to upload from GDrive, store copies in the above file formats: .doc, .pdf, .rtf, .txt)
  • Dropbox (similar to Google Drive, store copies in the above file formats: .doc, .pdf, .rtf, .txt)

3) Be prepared for remote interviews. You may be asked to have a 1st round meeting using your phone, in-person, Google Hangouts, Slack, GoToMeeting, or some other system. Be ready by making sure you have:

  • Audio IN & OUT available and tested on your computer
  • Video camera available and tested on your computer
  • The needed software (only required if indicated by the company)

4) Make sure your portfolio is online or ready to ship in an instant. For jobs which require a portfolio for viewing, you will want to make sure you have uploaded your portfolio online. You can do this with a variety of online tools.

5) Keep official documentation handy for instant replies. Have TOP-SECRET security clearance? Are you NOT a U.S. Citizen? You better have your legal documentation handy and ready to provide upon request!

Okay, that finishes some of my personal preparation secrets. Let’s move on to the next and most important part…the actual job search!

#3 Fix Your Job Searching Technique

Now that you have completed your online profiles, you have your resume in multiple formats, you have your local workstation setup for remote interviews, and you have all of your legal documentation in order…you are ready to begin your job search.

There are plenty of tools available for searching jobs, so I am not going to get into all that, instead allow me to share the most important secret for getting your well-tailored resume into the right people’s hands to review…HONESTY, TIMING, and DATA!

When I say honesty, I mean be honest with yourself while searching for jobs and do your due diligence by reviewing the job requirements to be CERTAIN you can DO THE JOB!

Timing of a job search is not something that you read much about, and most people do not discuss it, but it is a critical ingredient to your success in receiving callbacks for interviews.

  1. Don’t waste your time. Jobs are usually posted on Thursdays and Fridays, so do you searches on those days, but DO NOT APPLY on those days!
  2. Be at the top of the stack. Once you have the list of jobs you know you want, be ready on Monday morning as early as possible to complete your application. Why so early on Monday…? Simple, because that puts you at the top of the recruiter/HR person’s stack/inbox/etc… when they arrive on Monday and after their morning team meetings (when they actually begin doing the work of reviewing)
  3. Keep track of jobs: Having data can guide you, prevent mistakes, and help you evaluate the need for changes. Here is my Job Search Tracking spreadsheet I use for tracking data during a job search. It has a couple of small automated scripts to populate things a little (but could use some improvements).
Screenshot from my Job Search Tracker

Key Takeaways

That’s all I have for preparing and conducting your job search up to the point where you actually begin to interact with potential employers. Once I have more data, I may write an article to the art of engagement and interviews in a follow-up article. But for now…

  • Remember your resume is what nearly every human and automated system use to evaluate you just to be considered for a callback
  • Luck favors the prepared, have everything you need to succeed in your search
  • Adjust your technique for applying to positions so your name is towards the top of the stack
  • Data is King. Keep track of every interaction, too many things can go wrong without good data, use my free Job Search Tracker or whatever is easiest for you…just make sure you have good data

I hope this article has helped you. Should you apply these techniques and hit roadblocks or achieve success…share your comments and this article with others (if you succeed).

Happy Job Hunting!