About Me

Long time MCT, technical trainer and consultant. I freelance for clients big and small. Consulting and teaching my way round the world

Contact me

mike@michaelwhitehouse.com
Tel: 07970012133

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Entries in it (2)

Saturday
Apr062013

The importance of a good CV

If you have spent any time in the IT industry or any line of professional work for that matter you will probably have a CV. Or if you are the other side of the pond a ‘resume’. Whatever you choose to call this document there is not clear cut or standard way to approach the creation of your CV.

If you take a moment to think about what this short document actually is to people the importance of it becomes quite clear. You would expect me to now say that your CV is your personal profile, your semi-detailed list of work and professional life experiences and achievements. A document you can provide to potential employers in your field so they can quickly review and evaluate your CV against other candidates with the goal of selecting the correct candidate for interview or for the role being advertised.

This may be true to some extent, yet in 2013 a lot of what the CV brings to the table in its original purpose is lost. Especially in the technical fields.

Most permanent or contract roles today are advertised not directly by an employer but by a recruitment company. They are the gatekeepers, the people who prevent you from getting to speak to the people that you really need to speak to in a company. Recruiters will be often not technically savvy in the slightest and will have only the smallest idea of what the job role they are recruiting for actually involves from a technical level. This bring about all kinds of problems for the IT professional seeking employment. Most notably what a CV is actually doing for you.

It is all too common for you to be a perfect match for a job role but have a recruiter turn you down for the short-list simply because there is a word missing from you CV that they themselves do not understand. For example, I myself have been turned down for a short listing before because I did not have the words ‘Break/Fix’ on my CV. I also know of an incident where a developer has been turned down because he has not written ‘Sage line 50’ on his CV, this person was a lead developer for Sage working on the Sage line 500 suite. The difference between these 2 packages is simply the amount of users it can support.

This brings about one of the largest barriers to high level technical employment, the gatekeepers. Apply for any role advertised on the major IT boards. (CWjobs, jobserve, monster, ect ect) and you will be applying not to the technical hiring manager who will be able to read and understand the technical terms on your CV, you will be apply to one of the 8000 recruitment companies in the UK. Yes, there really are 8000 of them.

Your CV now takes on a whole new light, no longer is it about showcasing your technical skills as much as you would like. What is the point of using technical terms if your are going to be handing it to a person who would not know the difference between DNS and DHCP even if an AUTH request bit them in the face. Your CV now is about how are you going to get past these gatekeepers and get to the person you really want to talk to who is going to understand what you are on about.

I could go on and on now about the importance of a short CV, good formatting and grammar. The merits of including and excluding different types of information. For example, my GCSE’s are not even included on my CV yet a raft of IT qualifications are. There are countless books and articles published on how to write the perfect CV. So much time and effort can be pushed at the creation of a document that represents you that serves simply to get you speaking to the people you need to speak to.

Buy the books, read the articles, spends hours devoting yourself to the perfect template and an expertly picked font? Sound like a fun weekend? No? Didn’t think so. So what to do what to do……

Outsource!

£50 is all it takes to have an expertly written CV at http://www.wellwrittencv.com/ . It took a few days for my contact Will to sort things out, take my existing mess of a CV and rewrite it from the ground up. The results I am extremely impressed with. To be honest, I could have done the work myself and achieved a similar result. Yet why bother, for £50 I have someone take care of this for me who writes and formats CV’s and covering letters for a living. The more you do something the better you become at it.

You can see the final result of the work by clicking the Documents and CV section of this website, just take a look at the top nav bar for the link.

If you are currently banging your head against a wall looking for a new role and not getting anywhere, it is worth a shot for a CV refresh, remember, its not your future employer who’s eyeballs are going to rest on it first. It is the gatekeepers.

Tuesday
Aug282012

The IT X Factor

From my many classes and many students that have passed through my classrooms there is always one recurring thing that I see in people. This I call the IT X factor, I am yet to put my finger on exactly what it is or what causes it, but it seems it cannot be taught only leveraged in the classroom. There are 3 kinds of people within the world when it comes to technology.

The anti-technology

This group of people I would say are comprised more from the older than younger generation of people. They actively go out of their way to avoid technology invading into their everyday lives and have no desire to wish to expand any knowledge into the field. Technology, from the use of the internet to the mobile phone is seen as more of a hindrance to everyday life rather than something to be used to improve it.



The Techno-curious

This group could include both the younger and older generation of the age spectrum. They have an active interest in technology and technological development, the latest mobile phone or gadget is seen as a social statement. An item to show off to your friends with. There is no fear of the technology and no fear of pressing a button to see what it does. There is though, no X factor in the understanding of the technology. Within the IT space this is one of the most problematic day to day users that will be encountered because of the lack of fear. Very quickly this group will find itself out of its depth in the problems caused from exploration into software or hardware without a logical method for exploring. Inevitably the X-factor group will be consulted.



The X factor group

This group has something embedded and inherent in their understanding of anything with an on switch. Most often you see this group as the more outstanding members of the IT scene. It is hard to describe what makes up this kind of person yet we all know them. They are the people you can give a brand new piece of software or hardware and without any previous knowledge, understanding, or manual. Every button will get pressed, all options will be checked and unchecked and to draw more of a parallel with the Borg from Star Trek than a typical user the new technology will be 'assimilated'.

 

The X factor are the people you want working in your IT dept, they are the ones that are going to go far in the IT industry. The sign of a good tech person is not how may qualification they have strung to to their CV or if they can throw you out the OSI model from the top of their head but the method of problem solving. There is simply too much within IT to remember, you cannot possible know all the powershell commands from the top of your head or every possible option within the Microsoft Office suite. Many times I have seen when a user calls a Service Desk or a desktop support line, the technician has little or no knowledge of the software package the user is having the problem with but is expected to be able to fix any problem no matter how obscure that may be occurring. This is when they will draw upon their X factor. Clicking everything at random to see what it does, making mental notes and a mental map of the software as they go along. Taking in the cause and effect of an action.

If we are interviewing for a technical position this is what we need to look for rather than the ability to parrot lists and list of information that will benefit only with tests related to qualifications. We need a method for identifying this X factor. A device to filter it out. Something small, battery powered and something that you can use effectively within an interview scenario. Not a puzzle as such, but a device that need to be identified, analysed and configured to produce a result with no prior knowledge of what the result is that they are working towards. A black box test if you will.