In going through old boxes I found this resume from 1994. And a wave of bad memories returned. I had a miserable time finding a job after graduation.

Most of my friends had offers months earlier, but I ended up stuck for a summer in the 2nd level of hell known as Pittsburgh in July, staying alone in my girlfriends apartment (while she was in Australia). I desperately did not want to return home to my parents. I had dozens of interviews, from at the career center, to on the phone, to fly outs to various companies. It was a benefit of graduating from a good school like CMU that I had so many, but there were no offers.

I didn’t want to be a programmer (and wasn’t strong enough anyway) and job openings for anything else entry level in the tech sector in 1994 was hard to find, as it was still climbing out of a recession.  In 1994 there was no web and no startup community. No Facebook and no Twitter. Unlike today, there were no mobile platforms or web apps to try and make to prove my own worth by building something myself.

After months of struggling I lowered my expectations and made customized resumes for each job I applied for, bending my little pile of experience in whatever way best fit the job I was applying for. This one must have been one for a usability engineering position, which did in fact turn out to be the first job offer I got (from Microsoft, Sept 1994).

I’m posting for posterity and recent graduates having a hard time. Everyone starts somewhere. Applying for jobs is an absurd and unfair process, then and now.

berkun resume 1994

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11 Responses to “Would you hire me? Resume from 1994”

  1. Justin |

    Kudos for posting this. When you’re new at this, you won’t have seen many resumes, so you won’t have a good feeling for what a ‘good’ resume looks like. Real world examples are great.

    I’ve always thought that all a resume gets you is an interview, not the job. It’s the first hurdle, not the last.

    Tailoring the resume for the job you’re applying for is a smart move.

    This resume would get you an interview with me.

    Reply
    • Joe Topinka |

      Great resume! Mine was a mess back then…I just saw Don Marinelli from Carnegie Mellon speak at a CIO summit last night in Minneapolis. Did you run into him while you were there?

      Reply
  2. Liang Wang |

    You have C++ experiences before it is standardized! Cool!

    Reply
  3. Matt |

    I never hire based on resume alone, but would you have looked worthy of a follow-up call? Definitely! Graduating with both teaching experience and some kind of industry experience really sets one apart. The organization of the resume (short, to the point, proper grammar/consistent verb tense), gave the feeling that you knew what you wanted, and had some skill in communication. I really liked how it put your experience in a good light without falling back on the very common list of vague personality traits — e.g., “I’m an outgoing hard-working professional with excellent communication skills”. Not saying that’s bad, but anybody can say that — hence the follow-up calls & interviews.

    Reply
  4. Mike Nitabach |

    Loving the Pascal expertise! When I was a freshman in college–a number of years before you–one of our CompSci 101 assignments was to write a Lisp interpreter in Pascal.

    Does Pascal even exist anymore? Is it taught in computer science courses?

    Reply
    • Smaranda |

      About Pascal: I am sure that some high schools in Romania still teach it as an introductory programming language. This would be to kids aged 15 to 18. The good high schools would start directly with C++, but I have heard teachers say many times that Pascal is actually a great language to teach for didactical reasons. It’s very much like natural language and kids understand it very fast. That being said, I never wrote a line of it so I wouldn’t know if that’s true.

      Reply
  5. Phil Simon |

    Scott

    I’m looking for a good HyperCard guy if you know one!

    Great post.

    ps

    Reply
    • Scott |

      Honestly I was better in Director than Hypercard.

      Reply
  6. Theresa Ramsey |

    Where are the really crappy jobs like fast food or ditch digging? :-) The most valuable lesson learned from a crappy summer job is to stay in school.

    I graduated in 1990 with a degree in Management Science specializing in Decision Support Systems, and no one knew what it was. I ended up working for a small software development organization that contracted for the government. I learned that most trouble with software wasn’t because 1 + 1 2 but because people didn’t understand how to use it. I went back to Va Tech again for graduate school in Human Factors specializing in HCI, and when I graduated few knew what it was. (“ah no it’s not the same as human resources”)

    Ended up at IBM where luckily folks knew what HCI meant (since they love acronyms). Nowadays everyone seems to know about the importance of design and making products with a good user experience. If you were graduating this year, I’d love to hire you!

    Reply
    • Scott |

      Theresa: Isn’t amazing how the HCI/UX world has changed? The pioneers in the late 80s and early 90s deserve respect from all the UX people running around today. They paved the way.

      Thanks for saying you’d hire me :)

      Reply
  7. Brian |

    Great to see somebody with a Lisp becoming a highly regarded public speaker!

    My recent surprise birthday party included my first CV plastered on the wall for all to see – I wouldn’t even have given myself an interview.

    Reply

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