Controlling resume distribution …

Working with a recruiter? Don’t be shy about demanding these best practices.

The following advice is specifically for those seeking ‘full time’ employment (versus temporary assignments) via the assistance of a tech search professional. My goal with this post is to promote strong, professional candidate/recruiter relationships based on mutual respect, trust, and an appreciation for best practices applied in the recruiting domain.

My professional advice is this: don’t allow a recruiter to ever submit your resume to a company until you know who that client is and you’ve given them permission. After almost 20 years in the search industry, I’m always shocked when I cross paths with candidates who have worked with recruiters that were not willing to disclose a company name ‘prior’ to resume submission. The recruiter/candidate relationship should be treated as a partnership so I suggest you reconsider relationships where you’re being treated as a commodity and not as a partner.

Of equal importance to the latter is this. When exploring new opportunities with the help of a search professional, it’s important that you understand and appreciate when it’s appropriate to ask who the company any given position is for’ Although this is a very reasonable request, it’s simply a matter of respecting the spirit of confidential and proprietary information that the recruiter has been entrusted with. That is, a recruiter’s obligation to keep their client’s name confidential is part best practice and part sage business sense as sometimes (and unfortunately) a candidate can’t resist the temptation to end-run the recruiter and submit their resume directly.

Regardless, there is indeed a point in the process that a candidate should insist they know the company name if not already disclosed by the recruiter. Let me explain.

Essentially a company engages a recruiter to uncover and present ‘qualified’ talent. When a recruiter initially connects with you, they have yet to apply a series of qualifying questions that determine the strength (or weakness) of the match. If the overall ‘mile high’ fit is solid and the candidate shows interest in the opportunity, the process moves forward. While the recruiter fields questions from the candidate, they continue to drill down in an attempt to test/assess the match. If at any point in the process the verdict on fit is not ideal, it’s not going to make sense for the recruiter to disclose the company name. Therefore, until candidates have been fully pre-qualified, the company name is understandably confidential.

However, once a solid match has been established and the candidate expresses a genuine interest in moving towards the next step (resume submission), it’s essential that the company name be disclosed to you as ultimately it benefits both parties. That is, practically the recruiter needs to know (without a doubt) if the candidate’s resume has already been submitted to that specific company before they submit the resume. At the same time, a candidate can only make a fully informed decision on whether to authorize resume submission (or not) by knowing who the client is. This part of the process is completely based on trust and professionalism.

TAKE AWAY – Be firm with your request that any recruiter get permission from you to submit your resume to ‘any’ potential client to avoid duplicate submission (especially when working with multiple recruiters). Also, keep the above guidelines in mind when asking about who the potential client is and knowing when it’s inappropriate, yet knowing when it is your right.


Resume accuracy a must …

I’m discovering that more and more companies are checking (or paying a third party to check/verify) the following main categories on your resume and/or application. My advice is to double check everything on your resume before your next resume posting/resume submission to save yourself some potential headaches.

  • Start and End dates of each and every job listed: If you were a temp/contractor at first and then converted to full time, you might want to indicate that in some way on your resume b/c results will likely only cover you when fully employed. The key is not to get busted for fudging start/end dates. Take the time to check your records as it’s not worth getting turned down b/c you come across as dishonest. Also, the months should be included as well or it could look like you’re trying to hide short tenures.
  • Education details: It should be crystal clear if you graduated or not when somebody reads your resume b/c education verification is quite common these days. If it even looks like you’re implying that you obtained a degree, certification, etc. in any way but you never actually earned the degree/certificate, you’re potentially toast. Also, make sure your degree nomenclature is accurate. For example, if you got a degree in Computer Information Systems and you list Computer Science, it’s simply not going to fly and will not be digested well at the other end.
  • Job Titles: Simply include official titles unless they are inherently confusing and a functional title would more accurately describe your role. For example, Sr. Software Engineer or Senior .NET Developer versus a some formal company title like Programmer Analyst Level III. Admittedly I’ve never had an issue with somebody listing a ‘functional’ title alternative for added clarification as long as it’s functionally and technically valid. What you want to avoid is listing a title that is too much of a stretch during the employment verification process.

While we’re on the topic of verifications, background checks (Criminal, Civil and National) are very common these days. If asked ahead of time if you’ll have any problems passing a background check, I recommend full disclosure of anything that might come up b/c it’s better to address things at the front end so you can explain/clarify context if appropriate. For example, if you have a DUI just fess up as they are going to find out anyway – the good news is that many times employers are not necessarily going to give you the boot as it all depends on the role and the discretion of the person entrusted with the results.

TAKE AWAY – Don’t push the envelope on any of these topics as it’s just not worth it. Do the leg work to make sure your resume reflects the facts. See the following links for more resume advice.

Resume Fitness Plan
Always keep a current resume within in e-Reach
Spell checking a resume just isn’t enough
Controlling resume distribution – and hence your brand



Networks versus ‘networking’ …

Ah… the often dreaded topic of ‘networking’ – but not to fret as it’s all a matter of perspective and approach.

As a search professional, networking is at the core of everything I do but I’m not implying that you should enter the ocean I swim in or bump things up to the level of intensity that I do it with. However, I’m amazed at how many people don’t put any energy into keeping in touch with those they have worked with in the past – especially with social networking platforms available to all (e.g. LinkedIn, G+, Meetup Groups, etc.)

So, perspective and approach are key to making this work for you.


Simply put, you’re not really focused on trying to build a network of friends but of professional connections. Unless you really didn’t like somebody that you worked with, seriously consider adding as many current and past co-workers to your LinkedIn account, G+ circles, smart phone or even an old school spreadsheets will do. Just do something! Keep in mind that once you move on physically that information can be a bit more difficult to obtain (even awkward at times) if you’ve had no ongoing connection with somebody that you might need to reach out to. Since a collection of contact info is an asset you no longer want to live without, it’s never too late to get this activity going … so start today!


The actual act of ‘networking’ is enough to make many gag, but what I’m suggesting is that you simply build and maintain this collection of names/emails/phone numbers/etc. over time. This way when/if you need to tap into that coveted collection of folks the work is already done. Also, it just doesn’t feel like networking if you collect this information over the long run with current co-workers. Perhaps just a name and email will do but social platforms like LinkedIn make all of this so easy to do so this all should be quite painless and a lot less stressful.

TAKE AWAY – Avoid as much networking out in the wild as possible by simply weaving this more casual data collection approach into your daily work life. My advice is to also invest a bit of extra energy into nurturing and developing your growing professional network so when/if you need to reach out you’re not just asking for something having given nothing in return in the past. That is, most likely your current co-workers are bound to become past co-workers sooner or later, so it doesn’t hurt to chime in and say hello every now and then so when/if you need to reach out you’re not greeted with “who is this person that says they worked with me at xyz?”

‘Technical Summary’ a MUST …

As always, there are no absolutes in the resume creation process and the ‘Technical Summary’ is no exception. However, for the technical professional (especially those performing in a hands-on individual contributor technical role) here are some tips on creating a technical summary. By the way, if you are a technical professional without a technical summary in your resume, I’m here to convince you that you absolutely need one… pronto!

The most important contribution I can make is explaining how recruiters, HR professionals, technical hiring managers, etc. most often review a technical resume. Keep in mind that the technical summary is simply one component of your resume, but for tech professionals it’s a major ingredient of an effective resume and something resume reviewers appreciate and utilize.

Essentially the purpose of a technical summary is simple: present your technical skills in a concise fashion so that the reader knows what specific technologies (e.g programming languages, databases, operating systems, etc.) you are currently ‘proficient’ with. I highly suggest that the summary is placed just above the work experience section. Feel free to also list sub technical summaries in the body of each job description (I suggest at the end under something like Environment or Tools, etc. but don’t use that in lieu of a Technical Summary up top – just my opinion. A good summary is succinct, accurate/honest and organized so it’s easily digested and comprehended by the reader. Less is more in most cases so keep that in mind.


As a resume reader, I want to know quickly and specifically what your CURRENT technical core competencies are. I don’t want to read through a laundry list of technologies that include tools that you worked with in the 1980s (especially if you haven’t touched it since) or include simple things like Word, Excel, WinZip, etc.. Of course you can list anything if it’s put into proper context (see next section), but be careful when placing something in the summary that you are not ready to address in a technical interview.

Proficiency expectation

If you list technologies that you’ have only read about or covered in a class (yet never used) or even utilized off-the-job (unless you specify that when listed) are not going to add true value and could get you in a pickle come interview time. I’m all for categorizing certain tools (e.g. Academic Knowledge of: or Working Knowledge of: and other ways to make your proficiency levels clear.


I suggest you don’t list anything in your technical summary that will not appear somewhere in the body of your resume. More specifically, if I (as the resume reader) see a technology listed in your summary, I want to be able to scan your resume and see when/where/how you used it. For example, if you put C# in your technical summary but I can’t find it anywhere on your resume, I’m likely to be suspicious about your actual experience with C#. If the explanation is that C# is a language that you are dabbling in (e.g. home projects, self study, etc.) make it clear up top in your technical summary … or just don’t list it unless you’re ready to answer questions about it.


Approach your technical summary with the following philosophy – under promise, over deliver. The opposite approach is what gets many folks into trouble as there is nothing worse than making a claim and not really being able to back it up with experience and/or proficiency. Therefore, think twice about what you list in your summary. A good litmus test is if you feel you can address technical interview questions on any given technology listed in your summary.


Keep in mind that there are endless ways to present your summary, but the goal is to keep it organized. Why? Because a resume reader (especially one that may have already read a lot of resumes before yours) could very well move on to another resume if your summary is not easy to read and clearly conveying whether or not you have experience with whatever technical skills they are looking for. My advice is to simply categorize the items.

For example, sort them by Languages, Operating Systems, Databases, Programming Methodologies, Misc Tools, etc. If you are only listing a small handful of items, feel free to just list them like the following example but I’d still opt on the side of categorization. T

C++, C#, JavaScript ASP.NET, SQL Server (versions XYZ), XML, XP and SCRUM, GUI, Web Apps/Server side development. Some Linux experience.

TAKE AWAY – here is no silver bullet on this but the key is to try to see it from the reviewing parties perspective who is looking at your resume for the first time. I suggest you have somebody else read your resume as they have objectivity and, as mentioned before, ‘less is more’ and ‘under promise and over deliver’.