The ¿First? Interactive Resume

In the ever competing market to compete against other worthy candidates is a gut crushing dialogue when you have morals, and try to answer a loaded question with succinct precision in your personal voice during an interview.  In a recruiter saturated IT job market, their financial incentives, and the inherent abstraction layer between employers and unwanted new hires, the end is likely improbable.   Couple that with unorganized and inexperienced HR recruiters, morally absent HR policies, and you have a cumbersome and seemingly unnavigable crack that tests your interpersonal wit.  Don’t forget the fear of pushing back or identifying issues in any manner could likely eliminate yourself as a candidate (although some employers are open to criticism), before you even get a chance to discuss the opportunity with the hiring manager.    I want to cut through the majority of the hiring process, and work backwards, especially in the IT market.    While the several layers of abstraction between candidates and the decision maker are purposeful for filtering the candidates in a legally sound ‘equal’ fashion, it truly produces more work than necessary for the company, and certainly provides several tests for candidates at accommodating pedantic and  repetitive requests for information.    I am not discounting that certain questions provide insight for an HR perspective to the quality of a candidate, however, other judgements about a candidate are made by a reviewer are mostly influenced by their own biases, often formed by their work environment.  One very difficult factor to ameliorate that comes from this structure is quickly identifying what is important to the person reviewing your information, and providing that information, without anything that they are not interested in, in a positive presentation. So I set out to address this.  With well over 200 conversations ( a majority of those consisting of cold call recruiters ) or interviews about potential job opportunities in a matter of months, I have moved from one implementation to another to try to accomodate the different requests in a timely [for me] manner, so not to let the process of finding a new opportunity overwhelm my life.   I first started with several different resumes, comprising of different content highlighting different facets within my skill sets, so I could send one ‘Project Management” resume for PM jobs, or a Network Administrator resume for a similar position.   This was disastrous, as each of those positions have typical inclusions and formats, and I wanted try to fit everything relevant on one page (An argument as old as resumes exist, but one that I think is important, as the resume will get you the interview, your resume just has to stand out among the rest).   It quickly became a content management nightmare.   My next attempt used LaTeX (pronounced lah -tech, not like latex gloves) markup language to make a *Master* file, and comment lines of content in and out to quickly generate a resume with the relevant information.  This proved a much more organized implementation, however, LaTeX is 90% formatting and 10% content, and with different company HR policies requiring different information, when the content changed, the layout could not always adapt.     I don’t know LaTeX well enough to accomodate that, and from my research, most of the online communities I reached out to did not offer enough relevant solutions.    I then provided another layer abstraction to accomodate the content from the layout.    I used Adobe Illustrator to handle the layout, and the LaTeX markup for the content management.   Once I knew the required information from the company, I could use the LaTeX (notepad, XML, Word, or excel could all have worked as well if you want to replicate this idea and are unfamiliar with LaTeX) to provide a similar group of content, and place it in a text field for WYSIWYG layout manipulation within Illustrator ( a very key point, as Illustrator does not have the easiest text formatting, or the best spell checker, and is absent of live misspelling notification such as a red underline).   Here is an example.  This proved a good stepping stone, with a minor issue, keeping track of what I had sent out.   A special character (!@#$%^&*) appended to the end of the file name allowed for a camouflaged version tracking, as some recruiters would manipulate the layout, as they standardize their referrals, completely undermining my attempt to have a uniquely designed resume.  This increased my interviews at least by 2 fold, however, given that the majority of the position that were open that I was qualified for were in the technical IT field, my non-traditional experience was the number one deterrent for employers, either flat out unwilling, or in contract driven environments, could not afford the perceived ramp-up time given to a Jr employee.   So the next thing to combat was that I can represent myself in a technical way when presenting myself, especially among the many fields I work in.

While contemplating a solution, I was reminded of my intro to communication theory class, where one interpersonal communication assumption is that there are six influences during a conversation between two people.  The first two are easily pointed out.  With two people, A and B, each person’s individual dialogue to the other, A to B, and B to A.   The next two you might know of as well, each person’s assumption of the other’s identity/projection, better said “what you think the other is thinking about.”  These two are A’s assumption about what B is thinking about, and B’s assumption about what A is thinking about.  The third is somewhat difficult to grasp without seeming repetitious, but is each person’s assumption of the other’s assumption about themselves: A’s assumption about what B is thinking about A, and B’s assumption about what A is thinking about B.  Those who understand these elements and employ observance, empathy, and other social mechanics are generally better at interpersonal communication. When this is applied to the resume situation, I quickly understood that when I present a resume to a potential employer, I am initially providing information based on my assumptions of what they want to know about a qualified candidate, in a concrete form.  This could (and I would argue has in my own interactions) violated some of their assumptions and thus cost me progression in the interview process, as they are looking for a candidate of type X, and I provided them a resume that they see of as type Y.    If I had an interactive resume, which could present all information requested to one person to accomodate their needs/wants, while allowing for another person with completely different assumptions about a qualified candidate to collect the information needed, I would be closer to accommodating the different reviewers and positions.   Customized interactivity is best accomplished using computers, and since I am trying to show my ability to develop relevant solutions without being a expert in one language or implementation, I did a quick proof of concept (here), then after some consultation, I chose a common web implementation stack of JS, CSS, HTML, and JQuery to handle an interactive Resume Builder, that would highlight the many different facets and skills that I have, presented in a fashion that would allow for a well rounded initial representation of myself.  About a month into learning JS, a friend who helped mentor me in computer programming, crawled upon this gem of an article, helping solidify my reasoning for doing this project.

My solution, as I consider myself a junior developer at the time of writing this, is relevant in attempting to enter the developer community and IT field, as most of my prior solutions are either proprietary, out of date, or not in a developer team environment.    Being top down oriented makes it easy to learn associated technologies to develop relavant solution for the problems I face, however, given that my background is not solely technology based, my segue into the IT field has not presented the chance to work on a development team, something that is required for developing larger scale solutions, as well as becoming more skilled.  I think that representing myself in a visual manner in an implementation that is relevant to the field helps set myself above other entry or junior level candidates.   Other benefits of the online resume include the ease of updating content, somewhat ease of the format and interaction [given JQuery], 24×7 access and distribution, and of course, the user gets to generate appropriate content, as well as the ability for quick explanations via hovering, links, or lists.  One key disadvantage of this implementation is that it could inhibit the potential employer from seeing me as dedicated to a particular field that I have presented myself in, especially in the IT field where so many are queens or kings in their particular field, and I appear to have dabbled or abandoned certain technologies, sectors, or fields.  While I have attempted to provide the few abstract roles that I have had, I could see that some people reviewing the resume would prefer a template for a given field, so persistent options, PDF and .doc(x) conversions will come soon.  I honor feedback (Email, [follow_me]) and will definitely have to adapt this form of my resume to accomodate the different functionality that is to come, but with time, feedback, and involvement, it will surely move forward through the SDLC.

Here is the interactive resume. Credit must be given to JSFIDDLEStackOverflow, and github.   The repository to view past versions and releases is here.

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