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Submitted by abalij on


Hi everyone,

I'm grateful for the podcasts that MT has put out for hiring as now I feel like I've got more of a framework on how to conduct more effective hiring. The one obstacle I keep running into is lack of accomplishments on the resumes. I don't know if I am screening TOO harshly. Not a single candidate has moved to the phone screen stage. We're looking for a software developer that has intermediate experience and isn't sloppy. I've screened out resumes that have typos/grammar errors, lack-to-none of relevant experience/skill set, incredibly short employment (3-6 months repeatedly, etc) and so on. Those are the easy ones. With respect to accomplishments, I try to follow the MT model where if it's not quantified in some form or if the candidate doesn't demonstrate value of his/her work to the company, then I usually will reject the applications. So what happens in the end is I end up with a pile of NO resumes due to what I call a "failure to demonstrate accomplishments". Here are some examples that I've come across with my thoughts included:

  • Analyzed the use cases, business rules, system requirements and design pages - My thoughts: A responsibility.
  • Handled all aspects of the Mobile Application Development including maintaining, testing, debugging and deploying. - My thoughts: I do that too. Doesn't mean I do it well or on-time.

Others include what I call a "weak" accomplishment. For exampke:

  • Designed and developed module for Payroll, Leave and Attenandance of employee.- My thoughts: You finished a task but I don't know if it made life easier for anyone, was it done on time, etc.
  • Added print auditing for logging event data. - My thoughts: How did that benefit the company?

Some do include their portfolio (e.g. a link to their profile on Google Play store, etc) and so I count that as a "good" accomplishment because it shows they finished something. But everything else on their resume is just a blob of responsibilities (or weak accomplishments).

Other applicants provide projects/applications they've completed but they only describe what the application did. They would describe the features of the application for example, or what technology they used, etc. They did not describe if it made the organization any better.

Should I continue being tough on resumes?

Should I allow candidates with weak accomplishments, or a single good accomplishment with nothing else, to pass into the phone screen? I'm starting to doubt myself. I wonder if I'm missing way too many false-negatives. I wonder if perhaps majority of software developers in general don't understand the true importance behind resumes or how to construct one that passes the MT test. Oh and of course, I've got the added pressure from my boss to hire. (They said it wouldn't be fun if it were easy.)

Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks for your time.


NLewis's picture

Could you try some phone screens on the best of what you have?  Ask specific questions about accomplishments?  It might give you some feel for whether or not your industry understands how resume's work.  Worst-case the candidates aren't qualified and you can clear up some doubts about whether you're being too tough.  If you get into a screen and they're clearly unqualified you can just end it.  The risk to your time is minimal and it would give you more data to work with.  Best-case they surprise you.  In my personal experience it's always better to talk to people directly.

abalij's picture
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Thanks NLewis. That seems to be the consensus that I am getting.

suedavis's picture
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Most tech resumes are quite bad, and junior-to-intermediate (and even some senior) developers aren't used to selling themselves. (I even interviewed a director candidate the other day whose resume was entirely responsibilities.) If your entire resume pile is like this, you may need to probe for achievements in the phone screen.