Jan 302009

Now is a good time to update my resume (cv), and I’m hav­ing a little dif­fi­culty in fig­ur­ing out the best way to present it. The clas­sic “say what you did for the employ­er” tends to assume that your involve­ment in pro­jects is bounded by your employ­ment, but that’s not always the case. For example, I’ve chaired tech­nic­al com­mit­tees and been involved with con­fer­ence organ­isa­tion for time peri­ods that over­lapped both employ­ers and being self-employed. For example, I chaired the XML Con­fer­ence from 2001 to 2005, work­ing for (in chro­no­lo­gic­al order) SoftQuad Soft­ware, my own con­sult­ing firm, and Sun Microsys­tems. It’s the over­lap­ping time peri­ods that I’m hav­ing dif­fi­culty in fig­ur­ing out how to present. I guess I could go to a pure project-based resume, except for, some of what I did was on behalf of a par­tic­u­lar employ­er and thus was bounded with­in that time peri­od.

I can’t ima­gine I’m the only per­son with this issue; any­one con­trib­ut­ing to open source soft­ware over a peri­od of time has it, as well as people who volun­teer at oth­er organ­isa­tions in their spare time. How do oth­ers present what they’ve done in a way that suit­ably high­lights the import­ant stuff?

  9 Responses to “Projects and Resumes”

  1. I have two sec­tions to my CV; the second talks about what I did spe­cific­ally for com­pan­ies I was involved in. The first talks about what I’m look­ing for and my skills in gen­er­al terms; and then has a nar­rat­ive about the devel­op­ment of those skills with ref­er­ence to extra-company activ­it­ies, such as open source, per­son­al pro­jects, stand­ards par­ti­cip­a­tion, con­fer­ence work that wasn’t dir­ectly rep­res­ent­ing a com­pany and so forth.

    How­ever I’ve nev­er seen another CV like it, so I don’t know for cer­tain that it’s the right approach 🙂

  2. (By the way, with Javas­cript turned off you get an error page after sub­mit­ting a com­ment.)

  3. How about a two-column lay­out with par­al­lel timelines?

  4. Oh, boy. I’ve wrestled with this same prob­lem a fair bit and nev­er really been per­fectly sat­is­fied with the res­ults, but nowadays will­ing to live with what I’ve got.

    My approach has been some­what sim­il­ar to the way James men­tioned, although I mix paid employ­ment and Open Source a fair bit in the skills and gen­er­al bit, since they’re of equal import­ance. I’ve received a bit of feed­back along the lines of ‘it’s too long” or “it doesn’t look like oth­er resumes” and I’ve decided I’m fine with that. If it was close, but not quite the same as a for­mu­la­ic resume, I’m wor­ried people would think I’ve aimed for that and missed. Instead, I’m aim­ing for the slighter more inter­ested read­er who wans to know about me, rather than do keyword searches. Frankly, though, I struggled to be for­mu­la­ic with lots of professional-related extra-employment stuff, so went this route out of des­per­a­tion, some­what.

  5. The tired paper-based resume is due for an update. I don’t think you can high­light these com­plex­it­ies prop­erly on paper. Add a ref­er­ence to your web based resume in your paper based one. Surely any employ­er inter­ested in what you have to offer will use the web.

    I think you could get a pretty inter­est­ing visu­al­iz­a­tion with SIMILE Timeline for the over­lap­ping peri­ods.

  6. I don’t worry about over­laps. I list things in the order of when they fin­ished, and show start end dates (usu­ally to the nearest quarter). For things that are still cur­rent, you can list them in the order of when they star­ted. I find that works well enough.
    Chers, Tony.

  7. Unfor­tu­nately, innov­a­tion in a resume lay­out is frowned on.

    Con­sider your audi­ence: a group of har­assed agency people try­ing to juggle ump­teen thou­sand applic­a­tions for sev­er­al dozen jobs.

    Unsur­pris­ingly, a lot of ruth­less fil­ter­ing goes on, with any­thing that can’t be imme­di­ately assessed (like non-standard formats) going into the rub­bish bin with the ‘later’ label on it.

    So, keep it on paper, keep it brief, and keep the work his­tory in chro­no­lo­gic­al order. Tail­or the applic­a­tion to the spe­cific job require­ments in a cov­er let­ter.

    And (*sigh*) ALWAYS use Microsoft Word form­at, so it can be scanned into their data­bases ‘for con­sid­er­a­tion’ (as Bern­ard Wool­ley would have put it).

    (Hav­ing offered those bits of advice, I can also guar­an­tee that the next agency you talk to will want your auto­bi­o­graphy in PDF. Which is to say that there is no stand­ard form­at)

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