Friday, February 17, 2006

A couple of things...

A couple of things. First the best quote ever:

I think the point some seem to be missing is that it is just not a healthy idea to generalize people.

I recently “ranted” about something – and it included of course that Instant Message (IM) speak pet peeve of mine. Some of the comments did start to get into generalizations about groups of people. I heartily agree with LC’s comment there. The “IM Speak” issue isn’t limited to a group of people, a country, a time or a place. It is becoming ubiquitous (and I despise it anywhere except on my mobile phone or IM conversations).

Here is something from my inbox just this morning:


I would like to place my candidature for a suitable position in ur
esteemed organization,
I hereby submit my profile for you kind perusal. kindly acknowledge
the receipt of same …. Hope to hear from you ASAP..

Ouch, ouch, ouch. They heard from me, but likely they will not at all like what I had to say. I described what a cover letter should be. Why you never should consider using “ur”. Why the shift key is a necessary evil when typing professional business communication. Why a resume should not be 8 pages long (and have so many jobs listed that you think this person must be at least 500 years old, not the approximately 30 years old that they are).

I just don’t get it. I really don’t.

Best of all – here is the kicker: While writing this entry up, my email reply to them bounced back. They supplied a bad email address. Perfect. A complete waste of time.

Why do people even do these blanket emails with their resume. There was no “to” list and the SIR/MADAM sort of gives it away that this was a “lets send this out and see what happens”. Has anyone ever gotten a job this way?

But a quick request from me – please let’s not generalize about people or groups of people. I read the comments on the last post and didn’t like where it was going. It never got seriously bad, but I didn’t like the overtones.


Anonymous Anonymous said....

To be fair. Most development type work these days are short term engagements. You see alot of 3-9 month jobs. Even if you get hired as an 'employee' you are really just employed until the contract is up. So having alot of jobs should not really be held against a developer. It's how the industry is these days.

Plus development work is interesting when you are building new things. Once you go into maintenance mode it can get boring. I see nothing wrong with people moving on to a more interesting project.

I have been on alot of projects and am about the same age as your applicant. People hire me to develop a project and the project ends or just gets boring. I move on. Many organizations have very little upward mobility for promotions. I was with one company for a year. No one had been promoted on the team for 7 years(that was two years ago and nothing has changed). The company was moving jobs to India. My job was safe for the time being. Why should I stick around?

I was on another project when the economy was slow. It was just bug fixing. After a few months the economy picked up and I got a more interesting job doing new development.

Another time I was hired for a 3 month project. That is all they wanted.

That being said, your other comments about his grammar and the resume are appropriate.

Fri Feb 17, 01:03:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Most development type work these days are short term engagements.

That is fine, and that can certainly be discussed in the interview. What should be in the resume is the most relevant stuff. 8 pages of jobs (a paragraph for each). When it got to be double digits, I stopped counting!

If that resume doesn't grab someone - well, you know. It won't go anywhere.

Fri Feb 17, 01:10:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Dratz said....

I've had so many consulting gigs, I don't even list all the companies I did work for. I try to focus on some skills/results and list some of the major (possibly known) companies I was successful with. If you have tons of experience, I don't see the need to mention every start-up you spent a couple of weeks with unless you know the people you are submitting to will recognize them or are in the same industry.

I even have different versions of my resume that are geared for the project I'm applying for. I want to highlight my experience that is relevant to them, not mention every tool I downloaded over the weekend.

Fri Feb 17, 01:30:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

>> The comments on the last post and didn’t like where it was going.

I really apolozise being the bad guy(rather I should say ,,been hit badly) in the previous post. I never looked upon myself being so effusive about anything but some things are just so inflammable in life that you never know it is coming. And when it does, it only takes a few seconds to turn a good situation into an ugly one. Remember the Dick Cheney incident last week.

I respect not just you but all the bloggers who approach your blog site because I figured that everyone made sense in their posts(not just the previous one). It was like one big unidentified family and when it became apparent that somebody was attempting to draw a line, it caught my nerves although inadventently.

I didn't feel it meaningful to 'use' your site to voice opinions on sensitive things that are not savorable to ALL.

Tom, I can talk on this forever and ever but I would like to just get to the bottomline. And that is your best ever quote.. Thanks to LC, whoever you are!!!

Since I don't have a blogspot of my own, I am unable to identify myself but it really itches to tell-all about me......

Fri Feb 17, 01:33:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Tom, sending out resumes in the same way as the stardard spams is a new business. "Resume Rabbit" for example. So, for what it's worth, treating it as a spam and no reason to be annoyed. Sending out spam is the deal, whether the message owner gets business done is not the service provider's problem. The message owner didn't know who would see the message (resume). There's a lot of disconnections here...

Fri Feb 17, 01:37:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

The message owner didn't know who would see the message (resume).

You are kidding? Is that for real? That is the stupidest concept I've heard in a while.

Wow. Great, more spam - with instant message speak in it and all.

Fri Feb 17, 01:44:00 PM EST  

Blogger Doug Burns said....


"Why a resume should not be 8 pages long (and have so many jobs listed that you think this person must be at least 500 years old, not the approximately 30 years old that they are)."

Whilst I agree with you from the point of view of what someone would want to read, I tried the 2-3 page resume for a while. What I got back from UK recruitment agencies and HR departments was 'So what where you doing between March 1994 and December 1996?'. Seriously. I gave up and went back to listing just about every job. What's even worse is that they want you to list every single little skill. Once I started to see people put 'TOAD' on their cvs, I realised I was slightly out of step with the market ;-)

I've talked this over with several recruitment agencies and still struggle to get it right.

I'm not disagreeing with your opinion of the long resume, just explaining why someone might have a cv that seems longer than necessary. Ultimately, I have to keep the recruitment agency happy, or someone like you won't even get to *see* my resume.

I suspect that there might be a regional difference here, too, but can't be sure.



Fri Feb 17, 03:12:00 PM EST  

Anonymous smartin said....

I'd agree with Doug's comments above, and I'm in the US.

The target audience for a resume isn't Tom, or any technical person that you might be working with. It is to "get through" the automated resume keyword filters, and the HR folks, all so that you get a chance to talk to someone technical and get on with the business of evaluating the company and letting the company evaluate you.

Fri Feb 17, 03:26:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Geoffrey Gowan said....

There's a huge regional difference that I think a lot of people aren't aware of. The difference is really between CV and resume. The two terms are NOT synonymous. In the US we use resume, which should be one page long, or maybe possibly two if you are a US senator or something. In the rest of the world and even in US academics, we use CVs. A CV should be long and give like a paragraph on each and every job/project.

Whenever I get resumes or CVs I keep the regional differences in mind and don't discriminate against people from other countries who are following the CV rules instead of the US resume rules. However, for those of you applying to jobs in the US, you may want to consider following the US resume rules rather than the CV rules that you are used to since some US employers may not understand the difference.

Fri Feb 17, 03:28:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Geoffrey Gowan said...

and for those that send resumes unbidden for to complete strangers - just stop doing it :)

Fri Feb 17, 03:35:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....


What do you think the length of a resume should be? My resume is about 6 pages long. I get complimented on my resume quite a bit. I think there are some people who like long detailed resumes and others who want it shorter.

There are several different opinions on this.

Fri Feb 17, 03:37:00 PM EST  

Blogger Bill S. said....

I was always told (by headhunters and by career counselors) that a resume (NOT a C.V.!) should be no more than 2 pages long. I was told to keep my prior history down to one
line descriptions of the last position held in that particular company, and to elaborate only the most recent employment (current job and job immediately prior to current).
I have not had any problems to date getting noticed. I think it's a matter of opinion as to what works best - "your mileage may vary" and indeed will. ;-D

Fri Feb 17, 03:59:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

What do you think the length of a resume should be?

Two pages, maybe - just maybe - three.

When I was hiring - I would get the cover letter plus resume for many people. The recruiter would have scanned them, selected the ones that met my criteria, then I would have to filter them.

If the first page didn't grab me - that was it. If it was longer than two or three pages - I of short attention span would not read it all.

You can put on it things like "Experienced IT person with 20 years of full time employment - most current being most relevant, here is what I have to offer:


Full employment history available upon request"

My own current resume, 2 pages. Since I've only had two employers in last 19 years - I listed both. 90% of the resume covers 25% of my employment though - the last 25%.

Apparently - it varies by geographic area (according to the comments above)...

Fri Feb 17, 04:22:00 PM EST  

Blogger Niall said....

Geoffrey Gowan said

There's a huge regional difference that I think a lot of people aren't aware of. The difference is really between CV and resume. The two terms are NOT synonymous. In the US we use resume, which should be one page long, or maybe possibly two if you are a US senator or something. In the rest of the world and even in US academics, we use CVs. A CV should be long and give like a paragraph on each and every job/project.

I'd say that doesn't apply to the UK, unless you are dealing with agency intermediaries who tend to use programs that do word matches and who want lots of jobs on a CV. Round here long and irrelevant gets ditched as well.

It should be noted that I work in the public sector where even not meeting the requirements as stated in the ad (do not send cvs but fill in this application form) doesn't get you disqualified (in my book it should if you can't read the job ad i don't want you). Irrelevant verbiage will mark you for the 'do not proceed to interview' pile.


Fri Feb 17, 04:37:00 PM EST  

Blogger Niall said....

Oh and I would go further with the IM speak. I don't like it in SMS or IM either :( I find english a much more powerful communication medium.

Fri Feb 17, 04:38:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

I don't like it in SMS or IM either

I concurr, I don't use it myself - I only accept it without making fun of it when using that interface...

Fri Feb 17, 04:44:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thet said....

I tend to agree with Tom. I have been reading a lot of resumes lately. I must say that the agencies are listing every task one has done in every single job and repeating it for every single job listed. You end up with 8-10-page resumes. It is quite frustrating sifting through this hay-stack.

However, I agree with the folks here that the industry has changed. I see a lot of people working on short projects all over the landscape. I USED To see this as a negative and have adjusted to go pass this and try to gather what they have actually done and are capable of. And, that is a bit challenging.

In my recent phone-interviews, most candidates who listed having developed complex packages can not even pass my first two or three questions without stumbling.

I used to start with their job history - most recent first. Then ease into technical questions. I am now doing the reverse. Once I feel that the candidate is at ease, I jump right into questions on specific areas of Oracle starting with the most basic (atomic data types). Most people fail right there. I look at what they listed on their resumes and shake my head. I simply could not understand how one could design and develop a mission critical database solution without understanding the basics.

BTW, Tom, I see that you will be at Hotsos. Looking forward to it!



Fri Feb 17, 06:29:00 PM EST  

Blogger Doug Burns said....

"Thet said...."

Wow, I couldn't agree more. Very well said. I sometimes get involved with interviewing candidates and I can't believe the discrepancy between the cv and their capabilities. The problem is that the agencies, who decide which candidates will be put forward, are easily impressed.

Really, I'm with most people here on shorter resumes, but if you're a contractor and just list your jobs, you could get it on two pages. Then the agencies start saying - so what tools did you use at site a, and site b and site c. I really feel I'm responding to what I get back from the agencies and ultimately (and sadly), I need to deal with them before I get anywhere near a prospective client.

Fantastic - a chance to blame recruitment agencies! It's a good job I don't depend on them for work or anything like that ;-)

Fri Feb 17, 08:06:00 PM EST  

Blogger LewisC said....

I interview a LOT. I would rather have a long, accurate resume than a short, tell me nothing 2 pages. I want details. That's my preference.

Most larger firms now scan the resume. Most accept only electronic submission and it's automatically scanned and keyword categorized before a human even sees it. A longer resume with all skills listed (several times even) causes a greater hit percent. It's like google ranking.

That's been my experience anyway.



Fri Feb 17, 08:13:00 PM EST  

Blogger Stephen Booth said....

To be fair. Most development type work these days are short term engagements. You see alot of 3-9 month jobs.

Maybe developers would be best served by looking to structure their resume more like an actor's? Just have one or two lines per post highlighting when, company, job title and a few key words (langauge used, RDBMS used &c). At the top of the first page have a short block of text which is customised to the job being applied for (or, for on spec applications, what they know about the company they're applying to) and gives some more detail of relevant experience, so if they're applying for a job developing financial software in Java to run against an Oracle database they start out with "From June 2001 to April 2002 I worked on a project with Sproggett and Sylvester developing a Java based financial application which used Oracle databases for storage".

I, like Niall and Doug, am in the UK. I've always been told that a CV should be 2 pages and never more than 3 if it's to be sent to an employer (CVs to be sent to agencies can be longer and more detailed). My current generic CV comes to just over 2 pages, when I'm actually applying for a job I tailor it to the job I'm applying for. The web version is really just there in case someone with a need for an Oracle DBA who has knowledge of Solaris and UK Employment law decides to do some Googling.


Sat Feb 18, 08:51:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I guess I see both sides of this. I recently posted an ad asking for people with 5-7 years of business analysis OR software implementation OR industrial engineering project experience and 1-3 years experience with basic SQL and business reporting. I received resumes from dozens of 20 year-old straight out of A+ certification who had never held a professional job, as well as PhDs in theoretical math who had never worked outside a university and people with 20 years of C development as an individual contributor but never so much as an assistant project manager.

Now, I try to be open-minded and flexible. Much as Tom describes I attempt to set some basic requirements and then let the candidates convince me that their previous experience, whatever that might be, will allow them to get the job done.

And I try to think non-traditionally. I did once hire a guy for a professional position who had a high school diploma and an A+ certificate. Of course, the project was a heavy manufacturing ERP implementation, and his previous experience was 15 years as a shop floor sweeper => helper => machinist => supervisor, which I thought was relevant. Turned out to be my best hire ever.

But come on: I ask for 5 years business experience and get resumes from french fry cooks? Business reporting experience, and when I ask about Crystal Reports they say "what's that?"?

The flip side of course is the automated screening systems already described. Oracle's resume submission system seems fairly open from what I can tell. But it is fairly unique in that respect in the mid-oughts. Most companies I have tried to submit to in the last 2 years bigger than about $100 million (and even small ones lately) have VERY automated submission and screening systems. They don't answer phones (I can understand that) and they send back any resumes mailed to them. You must submit through their system. But if you are applying for a CIO position and you can't check off "11 years Java experience; 7 years Oracle 10g" the system simply rejects you. There have been positions where I know for a fact I could contribute, but there is no way I can get past the screening system without lying. Which I won't do, for many reasons including personal integrity.

I see that as a bit of a problem going forward, personally.

Sat Feb 18, 10:26:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I bet that this email and those other that you have ranted about came from either certian Asian subcontinent or people from that land.
Hmmm I feel like curry for supper....

Sat Feb 18, 08:45:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

I bet that this email and those o......

The word that gives it away is "Kind Perusal"

Sun Feb 19, 11:21:00 AM EST  

Blogger Gary Myers said....

"I, like Niall and Doug, am in the UK. I've always been told that a CV should be 2 pages and never more than 3 if it's to be sent to an employer "

It was like that for me back in the UK too. After I moved to Australia, after a few years I was looking at other candidates CVs and seeing they were much longer. A lot of candidates were from Asia or India, so I don't know how much is Australian CV style as opposed to their national style. Mine has since grown to about four pages. The first one is basically a summary of what I can do, and the other three are a job history of what I have done (reverse chronological order). The reader can go back as far as they want (or not). I don't think the older stuff is relevant myself....

I go through an aganecy for most jobs, so there's little scope for customisation.

Sun Feb 19, 04:49:00 PM EST  

Blogger Gary Myers said....

"aganecy" whoops. I spell check my CV though.

Sun Feb 19, 04:50:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Last year, I tried to find a new job or a contracting position (here in US). I realized that my skills and resume did not matter when it came to contracting assignments. There are generally 2-3 layers of middlemen between the actual client and me. As long as they can get the rates right, they will "polish" my resume to get me any job even if I have no experience in that area. It is pathetic that though the client is paying a high hourly rate, most of it does not reach the contractor. Unless I quote a very low rate, my resume won't even be seen by the recruiters though my experience may be just what they are looking for. The worst part is that the person they hire might have lied on the resume.

Lying on resumes has become so common that prospective employers now want a face-to-face interview in addition to telephone interview even for out of state candidates. 7 or 8 years ago, the employers would just do a phone interview.

Most popular job sites post fake job listings just to attract traffic. I saw the same positions posted for a month, then gone for couple of months and come back again, gone, come back and so on. I e-mailed/mailed at least 70 resumes and there was not a single hit though in all these applications, my experience was 70%-95% relevant.

Once a position comes out, the sharks pounce upon it and instead of getting the right person for the task, they find the cheapest person and make him do the job. I did hear rumors that hiring managers expected direct kickbacks from headhunting companies for hiring their candidates.

In this kind of scenario, it really does not matter how long or short my resume was. The recruiters were always modifying it "highlighting the experience that client needs". Unless I consented to lying on the resume, I was out.

Sun Feb 19, 07:49:00 PM EST  

Blogger Noons said....

Tom, I think you just tried to answer a spam bot!

Seriously. Over the last couple of years many placement agencies and private short-term workforce suppliers have jumped into the spam bandwagon with a multitude of third-party bots and other such " resume classification" software. Which is newspeak for "a pile of rubbish desguised as software technology".

Unfortunately, until some semblance of intelligence afflicts the IT workforce supply market and its users, we'll be stuck with this nuisance. There will only be more of it...

Sun Feb 19, 08:13:00 PM EST  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Tom, I think you just tried to answer a spam bot!

I hope not, that would indicate that spam bots have master "instant messenger speak" - meaning they have achieved "I'm artificially intelligent status"


Sun Feb 19, 08:27:00 PM EST  

Blogger Arun Mathur said....

It's been a while since I've posted here, but just to get something off my chest: What's up with people abbrieviating abbreviations?? Ie "k" for "ok" for "okay"?? :)


Sun Feb 19, 09:57:00 PM EST  

Blogger Hae-Kwang said....

Hi Tom. I've come across your AskTom website in the past and someone referred me to it recently actually when I had a question.

Regarding your post about "IM speak", ... actually, to be honest, it too is a pet peeve of mine. In high school I heard of a business course that taught short-hand writing. I thought the concept was neat, to abbreviate things. One reason I never bothered taking the course myself was that I feared not being able to understand what I exactly wrote. IM speak is the same to me. The only 'vocabulary' in the 'language' I use are the faces, i.e. =), :), etc. but that's it. It gets on my nerves a little when people at work, when IMing, use phrases like bc for because, etc. Maybe the only abbreviated thing I use myself is FYI, even in emails. (Would you consider using FYI in emails unprofessional?)

Anyhow, back to your post (sorry, I tend to digress quite often) ... I agree with the reasoning behind the pet peeve of IM speak in environments outside of IMs and texting on phones.

Sun Feb 19, 10:26:00 PM EST  

Blogger Anton Kovalenko said....

I thought you do move such messages to the Trash directly.

this sir/madam in the beginning makes me feel sick allt the time I see it!

Mon Feb 20, 11:00:00 AM EST  

Blogger Mark J. Bobak said....


I think I got this very same spam.

But, the "SIR/MADAM" sent a chill down my spine, and when I hit the "ur", the email hit the trash. So, I never even got to reading the resume. But, my guess is that it was the same thing.

Being that my email is fairly well-published, as I'm sure yours is, I suspect we both have more of these to look forward to...



Mon Feb 20, 02:14:00 PM EST  


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