Your resume, and how insignificant it is right now

Some out takes from an email exchange, me advising a former student. The student had just sent me her resume. Threads below:
BUND:
[student], do you have a preference for an industry you want to get involved in? (ie clean energy, oil/gas, finance, law…)

that would really help focus the resume

STUDENT:
Unfortunately I do not. I am going to be taking a Surt Training which will give me a certificate for the oil and gas industry. but really I’m open to all right now. I know they say don’t act desperate. Stephan, I just want to work, hell I’m open to everything right now

BUND:

I just feel that the resume is lacking for nothing. The resume is constructed very well.

I feel that the ‘open to anything’ attitude is not attractive to employers. I feel that if your objective is to say everything you’ve said, plus, ‘committed to entering the [fill in the blank] industry’ it would resonate.

STUDENT:
Stephan, The last two years of being unemployed has played with my head in many ways. I have gone through several course for resume building, thinking it was my resume. I’m now attending classes to improve odds. I realise that without certifications my chances will be limited. I unfortunately do not have the funds for getting A+ or CCNA. But trying to find free classes all over. I know I may be spreading my self thin, I’m just doin right now. If you have any suggestions or places to increase my odds, please share the wealth

BUND:
Let me offer some more details on what I am saying.

I think the internet has a lot of job boards and search engines, but these are really the last places employers look for people. Here is how they source employees:
1) internally, hire people already at the firm
2) hire friends of people at the firm
2.5) search for resumes submitted via corporate careers website
3) hire people at competing firms (poach, recruit, seduce, wine/dine)
4) go to industry conferences
5) try to hire highly visible people
6) hire a recruiter to do #3
7) go to a college campus to hire entry people (not productive always)
8) hit the job boards

This means that by the time they get to #7, they’ve exhausted some pretty rigorous methods. IT people frequently get sourced via craigslist, monster and others, however. They are more in demand.

I personally think that buying an A++ book would be good. It would also be good to have Westwood buy their grads a training course. This would up their graduate employment numbers. (every college is suffering this economy, no one is exempted)

But back to the above table. If a company really only wants to limit their job search to people exposed to their own industry, they are not open to folks without exposure to it, unless they have to be. This is because of the regulatory environment over most high-paying industries:
health care (hipaa)
finance (sarbox, GLB, dodd-frank, TARP)
oil and gas (special tax breaks)
tech (privacy)
autos (TARP)
insurance (obamacare)
airlines (TSA, homeland security)
real estate (unpopularity)
food/hospitality (health regs, always there)
farming and food (organic, FDA)
post-secondary education (acreditation, DOE)

This means that once you’ve learned how to operate in any of the industries above, you’ve become a tradesperson, and understand what they are up against. IT people really safeguard the company’s liability structure, ensuring data is collected that ensures against malpractice, fraud and quality failure. Each of the above regulatory structures are implemented via IT systems…

I think if an IT person wants to get a solid job, they should target an industry, learn its ins and outs, and target the various careers websites each company offers, with a smartly authored cover page reflecting how much you care about that industry. Having IT skills is one of the top most-desired skillset, but we are industry-agnostic.

Truth is, having technical skills is only 1/2 the knowledge needed to be successful, because every industry has its own set of laws, traditions and best-practices. So work is like a degree unto itself, helping you implement your IT skills in service of the mission of any company in their industry space.

So you could express the equation this way
(IT skills) + (industry knowledge) = [total human capital value]

You have the first part, now you need to get the second. The big industries in the LA basin are:
1. everything
2. health care
3. insurance
4. oil/gas
5. finance, real estate, insurance (FIRE)
6. media (advertising, broadcasting, entertainment, music, vid games)
7. aerospace
8. biotech & gene tech (thousand oaks, nice place to live)
9. clothing, design, fashion, lifestyle
10. manufacturing (clothes, planes, misiles, satellites)
11. high tech (green tech/clean tech, defense, IT, R&D, bio, NASA stuff)
12. logistics (shipping, ports, global shipping and import/export)
13. law, accounting, investment banking, consulting (IT, tax, economics, HR)
14. internet start-up (pasadena, santa monica, irvine, san diego — my turf)

Really, you should choose from one of these 13 sectors. Learn who the big, medium and small players are, apply to all. If you care about that industry, you will be successful, I promise. You can’t be just anybody, you’ve got to exhibit concern for a given sphere of human endeavor. I guarantee that a person of your integrity, personal magnitude will be an asset to any one of them, and have a long/fun career in any of them. The opportunity lies in choosing one of them, and really committing to solve its problems via IT.

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About stefan bund

Founder of Next Acropolis. MS in Information Systems and Technology, Claremont Graduate University... Background in software engineering and teaching.
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