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Hiring: Must be able to write a damn good resume.

One of the odd jobs I fill at the lab is that of Hiring Manager.  This isn’t meant to imply that all hiring decisions go through me; rather, I’m responsible for the hiring process.  I don’t make the final decisions, I just screen applicants, arrange the interviews for people who are asked to come in, make sure all the paperwork is signed, etc. I manage the hiring process. And my level of involvement varies; for the lab techs I never even see their resume.

But when I am screening resumes, one thing I always try to do is give people the benefit of the doubt. Cover letters and resumes are exceptionally crappy ways to see if someone is qualified. For all the time and effort we put into trying to perfect those two to three pieces of paper, they are barely a glimpse or glimmer of the actual applicant. Most of the jobs I’ve held I got because I was able to get a break.  Someone decided that despite my inappropriate experience or lack of education I might be able to do the work they needed me to do. Every person we hire adds to the culture here at the lab, and it would suck to miss a great addition just because their job history is lacking.

But the fact of the matter is that I don’t have time to give every resume the time it needs to full understand it.  In the last 3 days I received 45 applications. In addition to covering for the position we are hiring, I’ve got my normal duties, as well as screening these applications.  And that means I’m having to ditch resume’s for the simplest things.

With that in mind, here are some insights from our current hiring cycle.
* It is amazing the number of people whose resumes poorly laid out and difficult to read. Instant rejection.
* PDF. Despite my lack of time, I will do everything I can to open and read your resume. But if I had to download a file converter, I’ve gone to far and your resume will have to be fucking fantastic to get to the next stage. PDF is a universal format.  Your web browser can read it. You know what it will look like, and don’t have to worry if my version of Open Office will format your .docx correctly. Learn to convert to PDF, and do it.
* I love it when a resume includes context. Tell me about the employer.  Tell me why you left that job (even if you were fired). Tell me what you do in your spare time, and if you were unemployed, tell me what you did while unemployed.
* BTW, if your unemployed, but you can volunteer somewhere… do it. If you can volunteer, find a project to work on. It shows work ethic and a desire to be occupied. And that tells me about your work ethic.
* Cover letters do wonders. I personally can’t stand to write cover letters. I get the most amazing writers block and end up staring for hours. But done right they tell me about you, and if they talk about your hobbies and entertainments then I can take guesses about your personality and that can overcome work histories.
* Don’t stop just because you missed a deadline. If you missed the application deadline, acknowledge that and work to over come it. We once game someone an interview on the basis that she hand delivered her resume because she missed the deadline.
* Keep trying.  Unemployment is at 10% right now. For every job you apply for, countless other equally qualified people are also applying. This means employers are having to be picky and are able to hire their “ideal match”.

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