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Michael Caveney
Michael Caveney

Posted on • Updated on

Critique My Resume!

I'm having some trouble getting past ATS, and I would really appreciate any critique of my resume that folks have!

Top comments (7)

sgmallon profile image
Scott Mallon • Edited

Hey man,

This is going to be long but I hope it helps.

As someone who had a lot of non-tech-related work experience prior to graduating and getting my first coding job, I'll just point out a hard truth I had to learn firsthand. You are spending way too much space in your resume on work experience that is completely unrelated to the job you want to have. Your resume says you are a web-developer, but your work experience says otherwise. If you are a web-developer, your resume needs to be full of web-development experience (at the personal-project level if no professional experience). Development is a skilled position and your resume should show that your skill-level is higher than your relative competition, or your drive to gain skill is higher than your competition.

For example, I'm a, gainfully-employed, full-stack web developer. I also used to work at a Barnes and Noble and a Pawn Shop in college. Yet, you won't find ANY of that on my resume. The reason being is that your resume should set you apart from your fellow applicants for the position you are applying for. They don't care where or what you did when you worked as a Barista (no offense), they care what type of code you write, how proficient you are in writing it, and what you are working on RIGHT NOW to get better at your craft considering you are entry-level. They want to see your passion for learning. The best way to detail that is with detailing your CURRENT passion projects. I would even include your post about how you did your drum machine project. It shows how you think about code. Link that on your resume as well.

Even if you do keep that work experience on your resume, just put your job title, company, and the date range you were employed. At the very least, take out ALL the bullet points. That part is non-negotiable. I would even honestly consider not including your work history whatsoever and, if they ask about it, just be honest about you wanting to make sure your resume detailed your experience in development, and not your experience in serving coffee or being a film librarian. They will respect that kind of explanation.

The most important thing you need to do is list the current projects you are working on and, if you aren't currently working on projects, work on 2-3 self-starters like your drum machine that are easy to manage over time. Use GIT to upload current React projects you are working on to a remote GitHub repository (get a github if you don't already have one). Have two to three projects listed and simply give brief descriptions of the technologies used in the projects.

Here is a real example from me when I didn't have experience:

React Hockey Project -
The hockey application I am currently building is a web application built using the React JS library. React JS takes advantage of virtual-DOM updating to make re-rendering of components fast while keeping the separation of concerns at the component level. I also take advantage of several React libraries such as Reactstrap (for bootstrapped React Web Components), and React-Router (for Client-side Routing). I also modified/customized third-party components, such as the React AutoSuggest component, to make searching fast and simple. I take advantage of ES6's new Async/Await keywords to simplify and optimize concurrent requests from the NHL API. For styling, I use new CSS3 features like CSS Grid to accomplish a responsive layout without media queries and achieves a mobile-first design pattern that is so necessary with the amount of mobile traffic to web pages today. Git was used for source-control and you can find/clone the repository (link here). This is a passion project that came out of wanting an 'on-the-go' NHL stats application that was faster than all other current solutions.

Doing something similar to the above says that you are passionate about development. That's how you want to come off. You want to come off as someone who sees problems, loves to fix them, and loves to find the best ways to fix them, and are eager to learn. The way you prove that last sentence is by detailing and getting into the details of personal projects, rather than irrelevant work history.

Sorry for the redundancy, it's just a fact in this business that cannot be overstated.

dylanesque profile image
Michael Caveney

I am.....more than fine with removing non-relevant jobs. The only reason I had them on there is because I'm told that breaking up time is bad, but I'm totally ok with losing them if it makes my resume look more focused. This is extremely useful feedback, and very much appreciated!

sgmallon profile image
Scott Mallon • Edited

No problem man. In my experience, employers generally don't really seem to care about an entry-level candidate's previous work experience, but they might care about the gap. Your concern with gaps could be addressed by something incredibly minimal, like the following:

Work History

Barista - Company Name - 2019 - Present (Don't even include months)

Film Librarian - Company Name - 2015-2019

Just throw that section at the bottom and don't make it the focus. I wouldn't waste any space describing the positions. Personally, I'd have about 75% of your main resume dedicated to describing your projects in detail and I guarantee you will have a much better response rate.

As long as your conveying this is the resume of a very busy entry-level developer who is constantly learning, you'll be just fine.

allenheltondev profile image
Allen Helton

Some things that I see as I go through:

  • Change "Additional Activities" to something like "Projects"
  • Move your skills section from the side bar to the main page, I missed it even after reading through 3 times. This is also one of the most important pieces to your resume, highlight it!
  • Add some sort of time management or multi-tasking bullet point to your experience for Kickstand Cafe (if it's true) to add some relevant skills to your most recent experience
  • If you did a senior design project at Bunker Hill for your major, include that in the projects section
  • You say full stack web developer, do you have any experience in back-end technologies? I'm not seeing any in your skills section

Let me know if you have any questions on these, I'm always happy to help with resume reviews :)

dylanesque profile image
Michael Caveney • Edited

Thanks for the feedback, Allen! Point by point:

  • Got it!

  • Also got it!

  • Can do!

  • I didn't finish my program, due to class availability/scheduling/dated material concerns, but I include that time anyway because I did well grade-wise. Should I exclude the school experience given that I didn't finish it? I'm pretty on the fence about this.

  • SQL, MongoDB, and Node aren't back-end technologies?

allenheltondev profile image
Allen Helton

You should still include your school in there. No one is going to ask if you finished or not. It's useful to see that you did go to school and have a formal education in development.

I consider SQL and MongoDB to be database technologies, not back-end technologies. What are you writing your API controllers in? I expected to see something like java or .NET in there. Node can be used as a "back-end" language in a BFF pattern, but I wouldn't consider it a back-end language.

Now for the context of a strict full stack WEB developer, you're probably right, Node would suffice as a back-end language. If you were marketing yourself as a full stack developer (not web) then I would expect something entirely different.

You might get a second opinion on my thought here, I typically interview full stack developers and not web developers, so my knowledge might be a little off :)

stereobooster profile image
stereobooster • Edited

Move more relevant information to the top. Imagine how HR reads the resume - they got it 10th-100th a day, obviously they don't read them all. They quickly scan it, if they find something interesting, they actually read it. I'm not an HR, but this very human thing to do, right?

Now what we see when we start to read - skip first paragraph because this is bio, I want to know skills.
Next - Code For Boston (Volunteer), Refactored CSS code to ..., Utilized Git and Github... doesn't sound something we are looking for.
Next - Barista. Ok whatever.
Next - Radiology FIlm Librarian.

Wear shoes of people who read your resume. Move all important and relevant information to the top. Make it as easy as possible for HR to find what are your actual skills.