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Using MediaWiki as an Online Résumé – Part 1

2009 July 18
by Dave

Here in the “Great Recession” many of us have once again ended up spending many hours tweaking our resumes.  You remember Mr. Résumé right … the friend that you made in your last semester of college which you hoped you could lock away in the dark recesses of your hard drive?  Well, he’s back!

After reading an article in this month’s Wired Magazine, I’ve begun to realise that a great many of us are going to need to get used to much more frequent job changes (if we haven’t already).  While are a number of supposed resources available to “help you find a job”, I say from experience that most if not all of them are deficient … particularly when it comes to the résumé.

This article addresses experiences I’ve had over the last few years and proposes a useful way of thinking about the résumé.

The Problems

1.)  Getting everything organized …

Each and every time I meet with a recruiter, interview for a job, or use an online service there is an underlying theme:  What experience and skills do I have?  Unless you’re fresh out of school, this may be harder that it seems!

If you’re like me, you have a Word document called “Resume” (no special characters in this version!) sitting on a hard drive somewhere which is appropriately and frequently backed up.  You open this and add your latest experiences to the top, moving everything down

One secondary downside to this is that often some potentially important and possibly relevant experience slides off the page.  Ultimately even you may tend to forget some of the interesting things you’ve done and tend to become the product of your last few jobs!

2.)  Format and Presentation

While it’s easy enough to list out all your experience, what comes next?  You lay it all out of course … typically as a chronological format, but you may use other kinds.

If you’re like me, however, you may have multiple competencies and it becomes harder to lay things out in a simple chronological format.  With parallel career tracks or experiences which are relevant to many different kinds of jobs (but perhaps not 100%) you’re looking at creating multiple versions of your résumé.

Then, apart from content you have to carefully consider how exactly you’ll actually “format” your résumé.  Times New Roman or Ariel?  Does it even matter?  If this is easy for you, I commend you!  If not, then you’re like me and end up fretting over design.

3.)  Giving them more!

If all this work you’ve done isn’t enough, an employer or recruiter is going to ask you to dig deeper.  “Why should I hire you?” they ask … as if it isn’t obvious!

Well, it’s not and you’re going to have to present yourself each and every time.  For obvious reasons though, perhaps you want to prepare just a bit more.  Like we all learned in college, cramming isn’t always the best bet …

The Research

What I’m really looking for is a way to “dump” all my experiences … my employers, the positions I’ve held, the dates I’ve held those positions, and other important information about my responsibilities and accomplishments.  Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions to the résumé builder.  Let’s explore why …

Online Services

First off, let’s talk about CareerBuilder,, and your mainstream sites for job-seekers.

I feel compelled to use CareerBuilder and to “find jobs”.  Unfortunately, my experience with these sites has become increasingly disappointing for very obvious reasons: These sites are stuffed with ads, difficult to navigate, and ultimately geared to make the owners money.  I can’t fault them for the last item on this list, but still …

After years of experience with these kinds of sites leads me to one observation:  The main people who will contact you from any of these sites are recruiters!

Chance are nobody is really reading your resume.  Recruiters in particular scan for keywords; perhaps even by software that uses an API.  Is there such an API for someone like me to automate my résumé?  Well, er … no.

Resume Services

Another option available on the market is to work with various outfits that will help write your resume for you.  Of this I am dubious … do they know me?  How can they get to know me? Only $400?  Pass …

“Elite” Marketing Agencies

Better than this resume service option are “Elite” agencies which offer to coach you and leverage their tremendous industry connections to find you a job.  No promises, no guarantees here … just a slick salesman who’ll hype you up and make you feel like a million bucks for about 30 minutes, perhaps 45 tops.  The pricetag?  If you’re lucky at least about $4,000 to $5,000.

I’ve met with several of these agencies and passed every time. Why?  You’re paying for a service to coach you through the act of finding a job … not to actually find you a job.  The Unemployment Office offers similar services for free.  Let’s recap … $5,000 to buy “coaching”, or read a lot and use free resources?  Pass.

Recruiting Agencies

My best experience has been by working directly with reputable recruiters.  They are real people  who have an office you can actually visit and it’s in their best interest to care about you.  Why?  It’s simple …recruiters make money by finding you a job, period.

But don’t think this is easy either … most of what I’m developing here is a result of such experiences.

Most (if not all) quality recruiters will strip your resume and rebuild it effectively “from scratch” and advise you on what to look for.  At first this is very disheartening, particularly after you’ve spent hours tweaking your work.  Still, they know what the employers are seeking so you have to trust the process.

Software and Other Options

Not much to say here … there are a lot of packages you can buy, but most of this information is freely available on the Internet.  Why pay  $50 or $100 for something when it may end up better to do it on your own?

The Solution!

After this long discourse, what’s the verdict?  I can give you a few simple pointers:

  • Your résumé should/will be altered to match each job type for which you apply
  • The format/presentation of your resume is virtually irrelevant!
  • Services you have to pay for have little return-on-investment

Argue if you will, but these are the facts.  What infuriates me the most is that there is no real permanent place to keep a thorough record of my projects, experiences, and job information.  Such information changes and needs to be presented differently but I don’t want to go back and do it all over again!  What’s the solution?  A Wiki.

Using a Wiki as an Online Résumé

Sounds crazy huh?  For those who haven’t used Wikipedia or used one at work or for other reasons, a wiki is a very simple and efficient way to present and store knowledge.  It has a very easy learning curve and is great if you want to get information organized quicky and without headaches.

Going back to the beginning of this article, I was for a long time curious as to how best to store and present my résumé and associated information.  After a lot of research and a few lengthy discussions with friends, things started to take shape.  While at first I considered using JSON and AJAX to store information and present it on the fly, this became much more attractive.

And thus we come to the end of Part I!  My “work in progress” is linked here and, once complete, I will write Part 2 to explain the details.  It’s pretty exciting and easy enough for most anyone to develop.

Stay tuned!

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Harry Walker permalink
    April 20, 2010

    I have actually started the coding in XHTML/HTML for a web page Resume. After reading this, I think just from the security point and the ability to compartmentalize (sections?) would be a better approach. I will continue to read. I think you are on to something.

  2. April 20, 2010

    Actually I’ve worked with creating different “views” which I can offer up on demand. I need to finish this project and work on “Part 2”, but having a job keeps one from worrying about the resume.

    The big advantage of a Wiki is that it’s really designed to do stuff like this. You can create bits and insert them in other places as needed. What would be better is a drag-and-drop interface and integration with something like LinkedIn. I’ll probably get back to this over the Summer but if you try to repeat any of this feel free to ask for help or share findings!

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