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Job Hunting Revisited

Posted by felipegaucho on May 31, 2006 at 5:31 AM PDT

After several years of comfortable positions in Brazil I'm revisiting
the world of the job hunting. After two months trying job hunting portals
- and tired to re-type my CV in several different formats - I started
thinking about innovative ways to demonstrate my abilities to the
prospective employers. This blog entry is a laboratory about curriculum vitae
formats. It discusses the way people interact in the job hunting universe and
also presents a draft solution based on a CV XML Schema.

Trying the usability of some portals [1, 2, 3, ...] by myself I started to
imagine that contractors should also have difficulties in finding a good
candidate. The dynamic nature of information published on these portals
produces a complexity hard to deal with: Which CVs are obsoletes?, Which jobs are
already fulfilled? Which CVs are repeated among the several portals I have to
visit before deciding who I will contact?
There are also the issues
related to the human resources management: imagine a portal offering to the
contractors a list of Word documents containing the candidates profiles.A
contractor should open every document in order to evaluate if the candidates
match the position requirements. All this complexity makes people to waste
time, and sometimes, to waste opportunities. My feeling after my recent
experience is that the information technology could be better re-thought in order
to facilitate the relationship between the companies and the professionals.

As a software programmer, my first thoughts were about a progam, and as a software
architect my first thoughts were about patterns - the most remarkable issue
on the job hunting portals is the absence of standardization. Every portal I
visited presented a different way of registering. The most of
them have a section where it is possible to upload a file - usually in Word,
TXT or RTF format. All portals also have a section where users are
forced to fulfill a very long form about their personal information - a boring
and time consuming task. Despite that, many of
the employers that sent me a mail through these job portals revealed not much
knowledge about my profile. One of the reasons about that seems to be the difficulty to
express in a piece of paper a long experience in software development. How to
convince someone about my skills, how to know which technology the
contractor will seek in my cv? Remember that idea of the first impression?
Well, the first impression the most of contractors have about me is a mute,
black&white report - a bit frustrating. I decided to try a more creative way to
present myself to my future employers, a more impressive way to
express my potential as a software designer.

Show me the code

As software technicians we expect a job candidate who has the ability to
produce software :). Guided by this obvious motto,
I started designing a Java software that helps people to evaluate my skills.
The first step was to enumerate some requirements:

  1. The software should be simple enough to permit the most of the contractors
    to run it
    without problems with installation and configuration. The J2SDK 1.5 should be the
    only installation requirement.
  2. The software should be sized up in order to facilitate its distribution
    through e-mail.
  3. The data model should support future modifications - the data model and the
    gui must be decoupled.
  4. The software itself is part of the CV, its design and its implementation
    should obey the best practices in design patterns and Java Code Conventions.
  5. The information of the cv software must be printable in a formatted
  6. The software should support internationalization.
  7. Multimedia is a must.

After some evaluation, I started drafting a XML Schema
that models the skills of a job candidate - the most part of the schema was
inspired on the information found at the popular job portals. With a stable
model, I started thinking the ways to convert the XML data into a friendly
graphical user interface. My first experience was a

simple XSLT

converts the xml data into a Html page
. At this point,
I got a model and also a fancy output for my curriculum data - the next step
was to produce something more impressive.

The first impression is the only impression a contractor will have about
your cv

My second experiment was
a Swing GUI. The goal of
this gui was to catch the attention to my design skills. The Swing
technology itself is not so relevant, but the ability to produce a
complete solution from the scratch is always a good visiting card.

After downloading the jar, just double click on it, or open
a console and type:

java -cp curriculum.jar


Note: this software is just a prototype, it is
not complete and eventually some of its features may not work. It requires
Java 1.5 or higher.
An issue: I tryied but I couldn't include a video in my Swing
gui using the Java media Framework. If you know how to create a video player
that can be deployed as an executable JAR , please let me know. I found
several demo applets on the web and some Swing apps that read the videos from
URLs - but I was unable to develop a player which retrieves the video file
from inside the JAR.


The world becomes more competitive every day, and if you are interested on
the best job positions, you must be innovative. If, per example, a project needs
someone skilled about the Spring Framework, a curriculum in form of a Spring
project seems much more attractive than a paper where the candidate writes
I know Spring. Too much work just to present
a curriculum? Maybe, but the second step for getting a good job is really to want the
job, and to produce small projects with Java technology is always a pleasure
anyway - that's the first step: to love the job :)).
All my cv experiences consumed about 50 hours of effort, and the people have
given me a nice feedback about that different way to introduce myself.

I'm still using job portals, and still thinking about better ways to control human
resources. Some ideas point to web semantics applyied to the XML in
order to provide interoperability among portals, other ones suggest an ERP dedicated to
human resources and several other ideas have been being discussed with friends and
through my JUG mailing list.

It is nor a complete project neither a recipt about how to obtain a good
job, it is just an open discussion about the possibilities around job hunting.
Perhaps in the future I could write my cv once, and reuse it on the several
portals on the web.

If you have good ideas about how to elaborate a curriculum vitae, or about
some creative strategies to use in a job hunting, please let us to know.

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