Monday, January 9, 2012

Getting things done, read, or a reply

I'm not a productivity guru but in a recent conversation with a client of mine we started to hash out why his vendor was not responding to more than a few of the questions posited. In some sample emails there would be several one sentence questions and in others there might be multi paragraph descriptions before any number of questions. In the end we always seem to defer to a conference call. (I really wanted to get things going in an email because there was logical sense to the discussion.)

Then there is the resume. Recent studies (not sited) suggest that a one-pager is the best way to increase the likelihood that your resume will be read. I have both a one-pager and a multi-pager. With my history it seemed to me that a narrative approach rather than the usual boring: assignments, roles, responsibilities, languages, frameworks, etc... would make sense. And besides it no longer fits.

When I worked for NaBanco, later First Data, (circa 1994) we had a "one-pager" to describe all systems changes. Presumably if it tool more than a page to describe then it was too complicated and it needed to be split into separate change requests. It had not occurred to me before this moment but this is clearly an Agile process and it was definitely pre-agile manifesto(copyright 2001).

So by extension; if you were writing a how-to or a best coding practices document for your company you might want to take the same advice. Of course this does not mean 6pt font but it does mean a consistent and well formatted document that is compelling to read. The good news is that this is a good task for a document writer and not a programmer.


  1. HI Richard,

    As an IT Manager, I was responsible for hiring in my previous (small) company. When a CV consisting of multiple pages landed on my desk, I immediately threw it. No time to read it.

    Now as for vendors not replying, sometimes there are things that are stuck on their end and that they don't want you to know about, and that's why they don't reply (it's no because the email is long or a has a lot of questions). You might notice that the will skip a couple of questions and then answer one or two.

  2. A very 'C' level executive once told me that on any given day the "new hire" process is never going to be in the "top ten" list of priority things to do. Something is always going to come up. This combined with the speed and attention of the internet-age ... resumes should be one page with plenty of whitespace. The challenge is to keep their attention long enough to make it to the not-no pile.

    Would you hire me from my resume (

    Email is tough. While it covers a conversation between people or groups it's not good for multipoint discussions. Even most bug tracking systems and knowledge bases fail when it comes to questions that fork. To the email point, unless the email is formatted properly the respondent is probably going to skim the email rather than read for detail.

    Regardless, when people cherrypick the questions they are going to answer they are not helping. In fact it's as if they did not answer the question in the first place. Specially when the questions fork.

  3. Hi Richard,

    The link that you gave me seems like a biography, and not like a resume.

  4. Yes, that's true. I intended it to be a one-page narrative instead of a traditional "company, title, dates, description". My reasoning is that a) I cannot get my relevant experience in one page using the traditional form without eliminating the borders and microscopic fonts; and b) I wanted a way to convey the sum benefit of my experience. The other point that I wanted to make or imply is that I do not want to be compared with freshman programmers. While there is a certain financial incentive for hiring freshman you need a different kind of support system to keep them productive and keep the team well oiled. (Keep in mind that it was veteran programmers who wrote the Agile Manifesto not freshman).


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