4 DBA Resume Anti-Patterns

Every now and then, clients ask me to interview candidates for their open DBA positions. I get to see a lot of resumes, and there are a few warning signs that pop up regularly.

1. The Keyword Encyclopedia. I get it: you’ve opened SSMS before, and you clicked on all the options and wizards, and you think that makes you qualified to use ’em. However, let’s do some quick math: take the number of weeks you’ve been at this job, and divide it by the number of features you mention. If you’ve been at a job for a year, and you’ve mentioned 50 features, I’m going to bet you don’t really know any of them deeply.

2. Red Fuzzy Underlines. Sure, SQL Server keywords don’t show up in all dictionaries, so doing a spell check on your resume can be an exercise in clicking the add-to-dictionary button. Trust me, it’s worth the time. It’s hard to overcome the manager’s skepticism when you don’t spell or capitalize SQL Server correctly.

3. Homer’s Odyssey. Just because you’ve been doing this for ten years doesn’t mean you have to write an epic poem about your journey. Get your resume down to 1-2 pages. While you may still have the battle scars from that DTS package implementation in 2003, you don’t need to wear them with pride on your resume.

4. Complete Lack of Soul. You’re going up against dozens of other candidates who are all typing the same exact keywords and job duties into their resume. Bring a little fun and personality in. If you’re going to put an objective or mission statement at the top, make it warm and inviting. Make the interviewer want to bring you in just to meet the fun person behind the keywords.

If you recognize these anti-patterns in your resume, just take a quick step back and ask, “What specific tasks do I love doing? What parts of this job am I in love with?” And then figure out how to communicate that level of excitement about those tasks.

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14 Comments. Leave new

  • So you’re telling my expert Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V skills, 13 years of telling everyone PLE must be 300, and Dwight Kurt Schrute III resemblance, won’t land me a position at BO-U? *sigh*

    Reply
  • Whenever I see an article like this, the mischievous side of me immediately starts to search for errors in spelling or grammar. In this case, I found none, and I applaud you for that!

    Reply
  • ken ambrose
    June 8, 2017 12:49 pm

    good advice actually for most technical resumes (maybe not nuclear bomb technician, sense of humor might not be appreciated).

    Reply
  • Wes Crockett
    June 8, 2017 3:53 pm

    I agree with your points here. As a recent job SEEKER (and job lander) for a DBA position, a few things from the other side:
    1) Your first battle is HR/Hiring – 50bagillion buzzwords about features you may or may not have used excessively is overkill, but you NEED to have quite a number. The reason is, the person filtering the resume’s doesn’t know JACK about what a DBA does… they have a requirements sheet that have the same buzzwords… you need to match as many as you can.
    2) Details about the most recent FEW jobs, then list previous positions after (style the list the same as the previous in terms of ORANIZATION – DATES WORKED – TITLE.). My (fairly successful) resume format has
    TITLE – ORGANIZATION
    DATERANGE
    Tagline [I sentence call-out about overarching role]
    – bullet items

    Reply
  • I actually think that the custom dictionary is restricted local client/profile only unless you share it with the recipient, which I personally wouldn’t want to do.

    However, that makes a good argument for saving your resume as a .PDF file so they won’t have a spell check to make red squiggly lines in the first place.

    Reply
    • Andrej Kuklin
      June 9, 2017 4:03 am

      You missed the point, Angie. Red squiggly lines come when someone writes “SLQ Sevrer” and “Intagration Sevrises” in the resume

      Reply
  • The thing I love most about resume recommendations is that there’s no right answer and each person reviewing has their own idea on what they should have done.

    For example:
    1. The Keyword Encyclopedia: I’ve previously been told to include the keywords that are likely being filtered by HR/recruiters on the other end. These days they don’t read them as much as they basically search through it for keywords that tick boxes.

    2. Red Fuzzy Underlines: Solid advice that I’ve never seen contradicted.

    3. Homer’s Odyssey: Some people have said 1-2 pages, others have said 1 paragraph for every year of relevant experience (which meant a whole page for 1 job), others have said have an extra area for addressing the key selection criteria and cover each one in depth (resulting in a 10+ page application for a job which I ended up getting). This one’s infuriating as people often feel strongly about their preference for size and I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t.

    4. Complete Lack of Soul: I had a few things like this in my resume and were told to take them out by recruiters as it should be “a simple, quick, factual list of your skills and experience”. I’ve had mixed reception to this sort of thing as well.

    The only thing I’d add is that your resume, regardless of how much effort you put into it, is completely open to interpretation by the person reviewing it. This means if you just so happen to do the things they like, it will go well. If you just so happen not to, then expect it to be thrown out.

    Your resume getting to the top of the pile requires a good amount of coincidence and luck.

    Reply
  • Been on a few this year, interesting you get some no tech background interview where they seemed 10 times more concerned about perfection of grammar than performance tuning. Others are technical people who are out to make a point and correct any technical aspect of your resume even if it is more of their opinion than fact.

    Reply

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