Public meetings / Minisites / The problem of describing myself in job applications vs résumés vs cover letter vs who I am


  • Summary: Are we moving towards more mission-oriented jobs or career jobs? And in terms of roles that contractors do, do they need to keep their different profiles organized, for potentially sending to customers for example, or they want an all-in-one page for themselves? This week I found myself, when applying to some work positions, having to create specific résumés for each position. In this essay you will read about the challenges that I went through when adapting my profile, or my multiple possible profiles, when using a matching job-based platform.

  • Parent project: mini sites platform, a platform for individuals and their multiple roles in life

  • Reference meetings: "a06-470 — minisites — writing — reflection about multiple roles multiple resumes and target audiences Wednesday, January 22⋅3:15 – 4:15pm"

  • Participants: Marcio S Galli

  • Text Language: en-US
  • Tags: About us, Personal web pages, Persona, Mini personal site platform, episodes, series of notes, drafts publishing, continuous publishing, milestone-driven publishing

My experienced résumé applied to a junior position - the event

This week I have received a call from an HR specialist. She called me from a startup, a modern job matching platform specialized in high tech roles. The initial reason for the call had to do with a job application that I have submitted using their platform. It turns our that I applied to a junior position. When she looked my résumé, she noticed that I was more like a senior developer. So she wanted to double check — to make sure that I knew what I was doing. In my case, it should be noted that I am applying to job positions in Europe and never worked in Europe before. And she realized that, so another reason that she wanted to help.

It was a great conversation. She helped with understanding the cost of living in some places in Europe, helped to understand more about taxes, and also provided me advices and encouragement to look for more senior positions. On one hand I agreed with her ideas, and in fact revisited my profile to make changes, to let the platform know that I was actually more senior. The direct implication would be that I would appear in more relevant searches, that they would end up in a better position to help me, and the platform would be in better shape producing potentially less confusing results.

My own reflection about my "mistake"

However, after passing 12-24 hours and reflection, I understood better what made me make some changes in the way that may have created some confusion to her, and to their platform, in first place. This text is a reflection, first explaining what I have done, or what pushed me to do that, and second, the broader reflection.

The problem presented seemed to have emerged out of my willingness to make the application tied to an actual job offer that I found. Therefore, when I made changes, such as to lower my experience to 3-6 years, for certain areas that I had much more experience, it turns out that I was not abusing as I priorly thought. It turns out that it was based in the fact that some of these technologies changed dramatically and I wanted to be in fit with the modern use and not with the legacy aspects of that field. I thought, for example, that it would not matter to say "more than 6 years of JavaScript", for example. For this skill-case, JavaScript, I thought that saying 20+ years could even create a negative idea, because the world changed in this area. Why would I say that I have worked in the same building as the inventor of JavaScript? It seemed to be quite right to position myself for things I can fit, and avoid abuse, for things that are applicable to the market, the now.

Besides, there is another problem. Why would I say that I have 20+ years of JavaScript experience when in fact I am not a great expert programmer in JavaScript? Being using the language for decades would not really imply in my the actual experience. So I wanted to keep experience closer to the idea of relevant experience. I wanted, for example, to avoid giving the illusion, to the hiring manager, that I was a person that had a deep knowledge of the language. Part of my struggle has to do with the subject of familiarity vs expertise. When I said 3 years of X, for things I had 10 years of X, I wanted to say that I didn't know much. For example, I may have familiarity with certain thing for 10 years. So I think it seemed to be quite honest to indicate the actual number of relevant experience.

These were the reasons that made me say "3 years of JavaScript", for example. And that, in the end of the day, created the problem for the hiring specialist because I was suddenly competing with beginners. With that said, I also agreed with her that I needed to communicate that I am very much valuable for senior positions. So here it's a sort of dilemma. It is a fact that I was applying to more simple roles and it is a fact that I would strongly consider the right spot for a more senior role.

The broader discussion, audience orientation, cover letters and role adaptation 

Yesterday, when applying to a new position, of a technical writer, I caught myself "doing it" again. Formatting myself for a role, and preparing a specific cover letter. It was the moment that I noticed the problem, or the challenge; that is in most cases can be solved in the résumé part, or with a cover letter. Maybe for HR specialists this is a trivial subject.

For example, at this platform that I have used, there seems to exist a gap between the programatic parameters and the résumé part of the applicants story. I mean, if you consider that I am applying for a technical writer, and also applying for a front-end engineer, you would probably expect different résumés and cover letters, fine.

On the other hand, considering the platform parameters, would you also not expect that some of the attributes related to my skills to also be different? For example, in the case of this platform, they explicitly indicate that the order of skills, the first 5 skills, would count in the matching system. Thus, it seems to be clear, and it also would make sense, that attributes associated with skills should be correlated with the intention, with the narrative, which is associated with a given job application.

Therefore, it does not seem to be a question of real experiences. The real question is a) intention AND b) current experiences WITH AN c) application target. 

I don't have the full solution to this, and also I am not even confident of the aspect that I brought here. But I am exposing this topic to improve the conversation, to gather also input from HR specialists. Plus, as I am an entrepreneur, part designer, part developer, and learner, I have an interest in understanding this.

Considering platforms that helps with multi-roles or multi-résumés (target oriented platforms)

Another related topic. It turns out that I work in a platform concept that I call "mini sites" or "multi-persona sites". I found that something related to the above subject seemed to also be a challenge for the mini sites platform. Actually, it was when living the above event that I have noticed the potential correlation of the "mini sites platform" with "résumés". The case that I found myself doing, yesterday, was to prepare yet another mini site for me, my "tech writer" persona: 

Which is different from my developer one

When doing this new page, and preparing this different page with an specific point of view, in an attempt to make the life of the audience more productive — HR specialists or a hiring manager —  I have noticed that I was also doing a work very much correlated with the résumé. So I end up opening, in parallel, a document, to fix a new résumé as a technical writer: (link for the sake of this reflection essay)

Thus, it seemed much correlated, that this platform for mini sites, which was not intended for job matching, was exploring a phenomenon related to the user's need to presents themselves as multi-roles, or multi-persona. In the case of this platform it seemed to be clear because some of my initial users are more happy to have specific pages related to real works that they are offering, aside from who they really are — the broader human. To point an example, my mother has her page as a portuguese language reviewer:

But she is also a teacher — that would be another page.

It should also be noticed that this does not seem to be a phenomenon restricted to more senior people — of course a natural question because seniors would have lots of potential areas to help. For my girlfriend's case, a psychologist, she agreed in a potential new mini site beyond her profile as a psychologist for attending patients; to include a profile for companies.

I brought this mini sites platform here to make the correlation, first. And secondly, to point that now I am even considering that this platform could generate multiple PDFs, for example to help with the multiple résumés that people may need. This also because I took me lots of time to create a simple new PDF for the technical writer role.

And this brings the conversation to the case of the job matching platform, again, because their platform offers the option to upload a specific résumé for each position. The gap is the gray area, is the place where intention is written. Well, maybe this is obvious for an HR specialist. Or perhaps the HR specialist would even say - yes, the cover letter does that too. 

Thus, forgive if I am saying basic things here. But nevertheless, these basic things need to have a great level of attention when we are making platforms. And here I would also put a scenario for these use cases when people are looking for jobs and making résumés one for each application — A place where the person would add their "bloated CV". But when they are to attach the résumé, they would do something like shopping, they could pick the sections they want, and voila, they would be able to re-generate the PDF.

Marcio é um empreendedor com interesse em inovação, empreendedorismo, cultura e gestão. Formado em ciências da computação, Marcio fez seu estágio de graduação no Vale do Silício em uma das empresas que marcaram a história da Internet (Netscape Communications). Posteriormente mudou-se para o Vale do Silício trabalhando para Netscape / America Online, Yahoo! e posteriormente ao voltar ao Brasil, para a Mozilla Corporation (criadores do navegador Firefox). Antes de se tornar empreendedor e consultor, Marcio pôde colaborar com vários departamentos como marketing, inovação, engenharia e em times de documentação e evangelismo. Se tornou autor de patentes internacionais e gosta de estudar e escrever para os futuros empreendedores e gestores. Marcio é apaixonado por comunicação, negócios, tecnologia e cultura. Alguns dos seus livros preferidos são High Output Management, Conscious Business, The Hard Things about Hard Things, Maslow on Management, The Startup of You, The Alliance, Zero to One, dentre outros.

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