Thoughts

Blogs based on thoughts and philosophy

Tailoring your resume: Navigating the ATS Conundrum and Leveraging your Network

Human resource manager Is explaining the job to the job seeker before filling out a resume on the application form to consider accepting for employment in the company.

In the ever-evolving job market, especially within the tech industry, the application process has become a sophisticated journey, often navigated through the lens of automated systems before reaching a human eye. As a seasoned software engineering leader and architect, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformation in how resumes are screened and how candidates are selected for an interview. This experience has offered me unique insights into optimizing resumes for both automated tracking systems (ATS) and human recruiters.

The ATS Conundrum

For large tech companies inundated with thousands of applications for a handful of positions, the ATS has become an indispensable tool. These systems are designed to filter applications based on specific keywords, skills, and experiences relevant to the job posting. This initial screening helps narrow down the applicant pool from, say, a thousand resumes to a more manageable two hundred. The key for applicants is understanding how to make their resume ATS-friendly without sacrificing its appeal to the eventual human reviewer.

Buzzwords and technical jargon like AI, ML, Agile, LLM, and GPT are not just industry trends; they are essential markers that ATS systems use to evaluate the relevance of your application.

Keywords: The Golden Ticket

The importance of keywords cannot be overstated. In my own journey, from developing C# windows desktop applications as a freelance software engineer to leading large-scale tech modernization projects, I’ve learned that the language used in your resume must reflect the job you’re applying for. Buzzwords and technical jargon like AI, ML, Agile, LLM, and GPT are not just industry trends; they are essential markers that ATS systems use to evaluate the relevance of your application. Including these keywords in a simple PDF resume can significantly increase your chances of passing through the ATS filters.

Simplicity Over Creativity

While creative and visually appealing resumes can capture a recruiter’s attention, they often do not fare well with ATS systems. Complex layouts, graphics, and unconventional formatting can confuse these systems, leading to a lower score or, worse, your resume being overlooked entirely. Thus, when applying to large organizations, it is advisable to use a straightforward, well-structured resume format that is both ATS-friendly and easy for a human recruiter to scan.

Beyond ATS: The Power of Networking

Interestingly, the dynamics shift considerably when recruiters reach out directly, often via platforms like LinkedIn. In these scenarios, the traditional rules surrounding ATS optimization are less critical. Recruiters who approach you have likely already seen something in your profile that piqued their interest. Here, a resume that best represents your professional journey and achievements, even if creatively formatted, can be more impactful.

LinkedIn: Your Professional Beacon

My advice to those navigating the job market is to invest in building a strong LinkedIn profile. Activate LinkedIn Premium if possible, as it offers greater visibility and networking opportunities. In my career, from leading a team on a storage virtualization product at EMC to architecting an Enterprise Secrets Management solution at VMware, networking has been invaluable. It’s not just about applying for jobs but being discoverable to those looking to hire talents that match your skills and experiences.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, the approach to resume building should be twofold: optimize for ATS when applying through formal channels, and showcase your unique professional identity when engaging directly with recruiters. Remember, the goal is not just to pass through an automated filter but to secure a position that aligns with your career aspirations and professional values.

In a world where technology constantly reshapes the job market landscape, staying adaptable and informed is key. By understanding the tools and processes involved in job applications, such as ATS, and leveraging platforms like LinkedIn for networking, you can navigate your career journey more effectively. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned professional looking to take the next step, remember that your resume is not just a document but a reflection of your professional story, ready to be told to the right audience.

Posted by Arun Thundyill Saseendran in Job Market, Thoughts, 0 comments

Freelance Work a.k.a virtual company

What is it like?

When you work as a freelancer there is actually no company. It may be a large company, however, you are not entitled to any company benefits or there isn’t the protection of any Labour laws. In most cases it would be some individual or a small startup, that would be your employer. The other part which will turn your heart down is that the pay will be meager compared to the industry.

Why then?

Be it may, with all the downsides (or so-called), freelance work is one of the best types of work for learning. You do not have any horizontal or vertical departments as in a traditional organization, there are no software management systems for defect and change tracking, version control, file storage, or pretty much anything. You will have to manage end to end – from taking requirements, tracking them to delivering them to production after testing.

I still remember the time where I had to migrate 6000 live domains from a proprietary DNS server to a FOSS DNS Server (Power DNS), after writing a migration tool, a JAVA batch processor for syncing from the hosting servers to the PDNS servers, and shell scripts to wire in cron. All this without any kind of tracking systems or version control systems, not even a staging environment to test what you have written. For anyone working in an established company, this is utter nonsense and a nightmare. However this is how it happens in the freelance world, it is shivering, but it works and you get paid peanuts.

So…

However, the learning you get from such experiences is priceless. The confidence that you gain for managing things end to end is unimaginable. And that is the prime advantage of working as a freelancer. The feeling of freedom is amazing as well, more often than not, the person giving you the work will often be a non-techie meaning you get to decide what to and how-to, but then when to will be almost always very tight. Also, that means, you will have to explore, learn, use, develop, implement, test, deploy, write documentation, and support – uff – a lot of learning – a lot of experience!!!

Personally, I have gained a lot working as a freelancer. All the confidence that I have today, the ability to jump into stuff with strong confidence of turning it around, the knowledge that has given me a push start in each stage of my career, the appreciation of the tools, technologies, and benefits given by established companies that ease everyday life, is all because of my learnings working as a freelancer. However, I do not claim that everyone who works as a freelancer will have a great experience, however, if you choose the right job and have the passion to work and eagerness to learn, for sure you will reap the fruit.

Being a freelancer you can learn a lot and gain confidence for a lifetime – though you’ll get paid peanuts and experience a lot of stress!

Posted by Arun Thundyill Saseendran in Flavours of Companies, Thoughts, Worklife, Workplace, 0 comments

Flavors of Software Companies – The good, bad and ugly!

Since the world is driven by software, the number of software companies and their types is vast. Hence, in this article, I am going to categorize the different flavors on a high level and from the perspective of a software development engineer – which I am and will be! Folks focused in other areas of software industry such as marketing, sales, finance, management, etc., may not find these flavors meaningful.

Each Company is different

and

your choice decides your career!

What do I mean by flavors of companies?

By a flavour I mean a combination of

  • the culture the organisation has
  • the work environment
  • the technology stack and approach towards technology
  • the learning opportunity (very important isn’t it)
  • the compensation (a reason to wake up and go to work)

The types of companies in my initial list

  • Freelance Work a.k.a virtual company
  • Service / Consultancy company
  • An Established Product company
  • A startup
  • Pseudo Startup (Small/Medium established companies with a claim of being a startup)

I am going to jot down, what I know of, mostly because of my personal experience in working in all of the above types of companies and some that I know of from people I know I can trust.

Posted by Arun Thundyill Saseendran in Thoughts, Worklife, Workplace, 0 comments