Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Archive for January 8th, 2009

Progession of positions…

Posted by sweens on January 8, 2009

Based on the conversation I had over lunch at Moxies this afternoon, todays’ blog is about the progression an individual may have during their career path and also how an irregular career path can make a recruiter feel nervous.  Today I was speaking to a friend of mine over lunch and they were speaking about changing their current job for another one.  However the job they were going to was totally un-related to any position they have held in the past.  What got me thinking about this was that the individual is still in school in a focused area of study.  Now I remember being a student (I say that like I’ve been out of school for years) and simply wanting any job in order to pay the bills, but my personal belief is that a job in your field of study helps you nail that career position once you graduate.  I’m not the model for that, having taking political science in school and have since worked for a software company and then an IT recruiting firm, however I’m simply pointing out my view from the hiring side. 

I look at another friend of mine who sent me an email yesterday asking me to take a gander at his CV as he is looking for summer employment (co-op) related to his field of study.  When I mentally compare the two and think about what person I’d want to hire, I think the choice is obvious.  Obviously any job has different metrics from the hiring managers stand point as to what is important to them to justify the hire, but if you look at an individual who has taken the time to find work in their field of study while doing the studying part, I think that demonstrates a lot about their character and their interest in getting into the field as quickly as possible.  I realize that this is more common amongst younger individuals (generation y) who are new to the work force or looking to enter the work force, however similar issues exist around individuals who are currently in the work force and have been for a lengthy period of time.

Before Christmas I was evaluating a CV for a specific position with one of Procoms’ clients.  While going over this CV I saw that the individual had worked for the same company for a long period of time (let’s say 15+ years) and during that time had lead numerous teams/projects.  Right away I’m thinking to myself “this is awesome, someone who is experienced in management”.  But once I started going into the projects I saw that the they weren’t related.  Not at all.  It would be similar to someone going from a Database Manager to a Procurement Manager to an HR Manager and then to a Customer Support Manager.  This person obviously has great management experience but not within the same field.  This gives me two ways to look at this person. 

1 – The person can adapt to any environment and be successful
2 – I can’t use this person for any of my positions

And you guessed it, I couldn’t use the person.  And really its too bad because the person is probably very good at what they do.  I think the realization needed here is that your resume is an opening into your professional experience and a person wants to feel like they know what they are getting after they see your CV.  If I’m hiring for a Software Development Manager, I like to see that a person has gone from a Software Developer to a Team Lead to a Manager.  And really that just makes me feel good about the person because they have done software development for the majority of their career.  Now I don’t mean to suggest that a person shouldn’t make a career change along the way because it happens all the time and sometimes you have no choice other then to switch or be let go.  But be prepared to explain the change.  I see resumes of people who have switched from C++ programming to .NET development because thats the way the industry is going.  I have seen people who have a financial background start out doing accounting and then switch into development of financial applications and then moving on with a development career.  Those are all good moves and are easily explained with a little digging.  

My belief of people making drastic changes within a company is that while management is a great skill to have, most hiring managers want to see management within the area the position is related to (IE a Software Development Manager who has managed a Software Development team for 10+ years – rather then a manger who has managed a development team for 2 years but has been managing different projects for 10 other years).  Make sense?  All in all I’m not trying to discourage or discredit anyone from making a move whether its an internal of external one, but I think that everyone should be concious of how these moves may affect how they are perceived by a future hiring manager.  Remember that for every job you apply for, there is surely someone else who is applying for it as well and you have to be able to demonstrate (through your CV) why your more qualified for that specific position then everyone else who is applying!

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