Quite recently I was approached by an acquaintance who is high up on the food chain from one of the world’s largest media companies. And although there was a certain goal to the conversation, the thing that stood out the most is the sharing of our experiences in how the world of IT is a handful of people who are really good at what they do, and the majority is just a lot of hot air.
Being in the IT Design & Development industry for over 2 decades, I still tend to be over impressed with someone when I hear their credentials and skills. Maybe because I might take it all a little bit too seriously, or maybe because I simply want to believe it all. I don’t know what it is in other markets – but I am afraid it is more of the same – but it often feels as if the world of IT has the undying ability of generating new terms and abbreviations to simply to impress.
I have been updating my resume of late, and I am then pondering over the fact if I should really add in all the so-called skills that really are not necessary. I still want to believe it is not required to add in UML if I also write HTML or XML. Heck, just any *ML will do – know one, you know them all. I remember when I was young, my father who was Vice President at one of the country’s largest banks, was impressed if a secretary that applied for a job has simple ‘writing’ skills.
I am not writing ‘Graphical Editing’ skills. No, it has to be Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, PS Touch, PS Express, Corel, Painter… am I not saying the same thing with 7 things? An believe me, I have seen many resume mentioning PAINT. Yes. Honestly. And even I have made myself fall for the OS skills to name all the versions in the past: Windows 2, Windows 3.1 & WorkGroups (3.11), Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 – oh, it looked so good to have so many skills. Wake up! I know Windows. Good for me. And then of course the Mac OS 8, OS9, OSX… and let’s not forget that I installed Ubuntu successfully once! That adds at least Linux and Ubuntu on there as well. Hmmmm…. wasn’t that built on Unix? Wasn’t Mac OS also built on Unix. And NT? I don’t even know anymore; why not just put Unix in the mix as well.
It is this crazy thing that looks impressive, but really is not. I am sorry, but ASP, ASP.NET and .NET are no languages at all and don’t require any skill but to create a page with an extension .ASP or .ASPx on a Windows Server. But it always looks so impressive.
But besides the whole skill tree that bursts from someone’s resume, it is that it might work if you were the only one polishing up their resume like that, but everyone is. So in order to stand out, people keep adding more and more to the mix, and a lot of people hiring who do not really know what it all means, are usually over-impressed and might hire the wrong people.
When I had to hire people, especially in my field, I always was somewhat scared. Because I make no assumptions; I know what I am doing, but I don’t have the idea that I am better than anyone else in this field. And I am always scared that the person hired lives up to his or her reputation and I cannot keep up. In my exact field, that only happened once, and I was greatly impressed and knew that fear is unfounded.
During this interview a young man, early twenties, was looking for a temporary position as a front end developer. Polite, suited up, and not making any statements he could not make. His resume was short and he mentioned he did not know everything and hoped to learn on the job. This ‘kid’ came in between about 10 others with the buffed up resumes, but there was something about him. We hired him, and he learned, and he learned quickly. So very quickly that I still believe that he will become a well-known name one time in the industry. Because, not only did he learn things fast, he knew how to use it, and how to bring things together in such a strong way. He lacked the skills still of working with legacy technology, which left me to let him go at one moment, but I hated every moment of that.
Everyone working in the industry and working a lot on creating and managing productions knows this all too well; there will be people in the workforce you encounter, that simply impress you, and they will stay there. And those are the people I learned and still learn from, and I know that I will grow more simply because of meeting other people who will teach me new things every single time. In my opinion, I am good, but not great or a master.
So, recently, when working on my resume, I made the move to rewrite it according a new template in which it is all about selling yourself. Not by skills and abilities, but by being a match to a company or business, a project or production, and deliver proof that supports it. Gone is the whole history of all the jobs you worked for, the extreme long lists of programs and operating systems. It is a type of resume that simply shows who you can be for the project or company you want to work for. And let them come up with the questions.
Why? Because if everyone was as good as their resume tells them right now, especially in IT, wouldn’t it be the end of Cyber Terrorism, ID theft, viruses and Malware, data breaches and photos of celebrities from their cloud drive posted on the Internet? Because, everyone would be that good?
Some people are that good. But most are – just like me – just good. Some not even. But as long as top IT people keep writing their passwords on a memo and stick it to their computer, network controllers keep shutting their firewalls down because it blocks traffic and hinders some board member’s NetFlix connection, or programmers using untested libraries that will form the foundation of what they do… we simply have to assume, we still have a long way to go to become as good as we say we are.