Resume Makeovers

Tech Resume Makeover: How to add multimedia

In today’s multimedia world, some job seekers are creating elaborate video game resumes, or adding infographics, video, audio or design-intensive documents to their traditional resumes. So, is your old-fashioned text-based document passé?

The answer, according to recruiters and hiring managers, is to tread carefully when considering how to add multimedia sparkle to your resume. Judicious use of hyperlinks and non-text devices can provide candidates with an edge, but just because you “can” spruce up your resume with bells and whistles doesn’t mean you should.

Generally speaking, videos and multimedia in particular are less relevant for hiring at the professional level in IT, says Faisel Khwaja, direct hire manager in IT at Addison Group. Such “stunts,” as Khwaja calls them, might work for junior-level candidates or new graduates seeking the attention of larger tech companies like Google or Microsoft.

But higher level professionals, he says, are better off letting their accomplishments and experience speak for themselves. “Videos, pictures on the resume, different fonts – it’s too much busyness and can work against you,” he says.

Hiring managers, he says,want a CV that helps them more quickly see what’s relevant in terms of skills, experience and accomplishments -- especially when they spend an average of six seconds per resume, according to one study. Reviewing video or audio requires as many minutes as the video/audio lasts, whereas textual content can be skimmed more readily,” says Paul English, manager of IT, energy, at Vaisala, which makes products for environmental and industrial measurement. “I'd be inclined to just skip video/audio entirely on that basis.”

Complex design can also detract from your real message. “We’ve had people use colorful, modern templates, and I can’t tell what the person is doing,” says Hallie Yarger, regional recruiting director at Mondo. In one case, Yarger says, she received a resume for someone she knew was a good candidate, but it was so full of pictures, charts, graphs and links that it overshadowed his skills. “That would paralyze someone who only looked at resumes a few times a year,” she says. The client almost passed up the candidate until Yarger spelled out what the candidate’s skills were and how they measured up against other candidates.

Faisel Khwaja, direct hire manager in IT at Addison Group

Similarly, Khwaja recounts a candidate who, when asked for his resume, handed over an iPad. “That might seem like a great idea -- why not embrace the technology?” he says. However, the interactive, digital format of the tablet can be distracting; it also requires more work, as the hiring manager needs to scroll instead of skim, and offers no easy way to jot down notes.

When to get dynamic

At the same time, it can be advantageous – even necessary -- for certain positions and roles to include dynamic extras within the resume to showcase live examples or documentation of their work. “For anyone in a design-related role, such as user interface or graphics designers, it’s a given they’ll have an online portfolio showing what they’ve done,” Yarger says.

Developers and programmers should also include either links to their code or actual samples within the resume itself, Khwaja says. “You can provide a code sample within the resume that’s specific and relevant to the type of company and project you’re applying to,” he says, although that requires customizing each resume you send out. An easier approach, he says, is to provide a link to a repository of coding examples you’ve worked on, making sure to remove any proprietary information.

“If you’re in a coding or programming role and don’t have links to Github, Stack Overflow or your own personal site, it’s guaranteed you’ll be passed on by the hiring manager,” Yarger says. Providing such a link showcases not only your work but also your overall interest in coding. “We have hiring managers who want to hire people who are passionate about what they do,” she says. “This gives you a chance to show how often you contribute to coding libraries or pour your heart into side projects outside of work.”

For these types of positions, establishing a digital presence is a must, Yarger says. “Anyone can say they know HTML or have done mobile app development, but if they don’t have any websites or apps to show off those skills, no one will believe them.”

IT infrastructure-related roles are another area in which hyperlinks are useful, Khwaja says, including anyone involved in data center design or even planning a move to a new building. In this case, the applicant could link to a schematic, process plan or blueprint that provides extra documentation of their thought process, as well as a visual aid to supplement that, he says.

Similarly, project managers and business analysts could link to sample project plans, he says, after extracting sensitive or identifying information. “The idea is to provide documentation that shows your background includes accomplishments and thought processes that line up with the [hiring company’s] methodology,” he says. It’s true that these materials can be displayed in a physical binder or portfolio, but creating an online repository enables the hiring manager to review the documents even before the interview, he adds.

Balancing the physical and digital

Bear in mind that even if you don’t include links to your capabilities within the resume, hiring managers and recruiters will likely search for digital evidence on the Web. “I will typically search for a Github account even if the person doesn't supply a link on their resume,” English says. He advises programmers to have a Github account or even a personal website or blog that is technical or IT-related, as well. Of course, both – but especially the latter -- require continual maintenance to keep the content fresh, which imposes an extra burden, English adds.

“If an applicant were to choose, I'd suggest Github over a blog, as the format lends itself better toward technical projects,” he says. “I've seen some blogs that were a little more personal and informal than I really wanted to consider as an employer.”

Indeed, when it comes to personal websites, the prevailing wisdom is to only create one if you can do it really well. “People send links to websites that are god-awful,” Yarger says. “If you’re not 100% into the work you’re putting out there, don’t do it.”

Personal websites should be as professional and updated as possible, as employers may pass over candidates who exhibit interests that are too far out in left field, or an aesthetic that looks more junior-level than their resume suggests. “If you haven’t put the effort into maintaining it, and it shows out-of-date skills, that won’t help your cause at all,” Yarger says. “If you put information out there, make sure it’s current.

It’s also a mistake to establish an online presence only, without the resume, Yarger says. “If you’re a pure programmer with a personal website, you’ll be more visible to recruiters, but they will ask for a resume,” she says. “Coding samples are great, but recruiters will look to see what your career progression has been vs. just the coding you’ve done.”

In the end, it’s a balance between high-tech and high-touch, Khwaja says. “If you provide [too many digital elements], it can work against you, but if you don’t provide anything at all, you won’t be seen as competitive,” he says. In IT, traditional resumes are still embraced, so the best approach is to keep it as simple as possible, while incorporating relevant extras. “By all means, it’s good to supplement the resume, but not serve these extras as the main course,” he says.

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This story, "Tech Resume Makeover: How to add multimedia" was originally published by Network World.

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