Where and when is up to you

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9 March 2017 | 0

Niall Kitson portraitWhen I entered the workforce in my early twenties I sat down with a recruitment consultant who gave me these sage words of advice: take my postgraduate degree off my CV. His logic went that appearing to be ‘too smart’ was a turn-off for employers looking for people to fill roles in administrative roles. I doubt this experience is unique and it did teach me a lesson about resumes: they are living documents, and so long as it doesn’t look like you take a year off in every five to ‘find yourself’ you should feel free to curate and present your best side. If you’re a fraud, that will come out in your probation period.

I’m finding this advice become more important not from the point of view of candidates saying they have worked for certain companies as much as saying they haven’t. Particularly at a time where digital skills are at a premium, a high level of mobility is to be expected among professionals, especially millennials for whom the concept of a ‘job for life’ is as alien as terrestrial TV and C-60 cassettes. Developers, particularly, are in a position where they can curate their work histories, filtering out positions at companies that failed or have a reputation for churning out employees who have internalised a toxic work culture.

This brings me to the subject of Uber and a report in the Guardian slamming the company for a culture defined by aggression, intrigue and an ‘always be hustlin’’ mindset that emphasises being first over being the best at what they do. According to the report a successful career at Uber can be seen as an indication that the candidate adheres to a Machiavellian code of ethics that plays well in a cut throat atmosphere but wouldn’t be appropriate, say, in a small start-up or in an multinational where the ability to smile as hard as you work is the norm.

It’s not hard to find out whether a company requirement you give ‘your whole self’ to it becomes a Faustian pact. In keeping track of the jobs market for IT pros, developers and channel professionals I find Glassdoor to be a useful resource for finding out which companies’ sales targets harken back to the boom; those whose commitment to ongoing professional development ends when you sign your contract; and those still are afloat despite the best efforts of management. Happy the professional who can review an employer before even applying for the job.

Glassdoor is hardly infallible, though. I know of MNCs who politely ask staff to leave favourable reviews in an effort to drown out the malcontents, Yelp style. There will always be bad review, the key factors are how frequent and how recent the feedback is. If a company’s HR department is so negligent as to not bother with some attempt at preserving the company reputation, they’re unlikely to hold staff in much esteem, either.

So, you lucky IT professional, pick your next post wisely and treat your CV as a greatest hits compilation instead of an exhaustive retrospective. There’s no need to list out the obscure side projects, deep cuts, or anything off that difficult concept album. Even Bowie had Tin Machine, so you have nothing to apologise for.

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