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)

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>