Dump Your Resume

Few people are interested in your resume any more. Plenty are interested in what you’ve done.

~ Seth Godin

Words vs. Actions

Along with the truth that a collection of academic degrees won’t guarantee you employment, the use of a resume won’t guarantee that you get a job or are even considered.  I agree with Seth’s statement that more people are interested in what you’ve done, but even more so, potential employers are interested in what you’ve done that will benefit them.  Career goals and puffed up language wither when put to task, but a track record of accomplishments, and even near misses or failures, tempered in the fire will stand.

When I look for a programmer to outsource work to it is one thing to read that they have “15 years programming experience” and another to see their contributions to an open source project or application that is in production, or better yet that I’ve used on a project.  Words on a resume force me to dig deeper and are easily dismissed.  Real world projects show initiative, ability to complete a vision and can be scrutinized for quality of code and other incidentals.

Do you really want to be hired by a company that relies on resumes?

In his biography, Steve Jobs is described as making the statement that “‘A’ players only want to work with other ‘A’ players”.  He would berate and dismiss employees as being “B players” or not good enough.  Although it is a terrible leadership example and not something that I would personally do or tolerate, I do see the draw to wanting to be good enough to be on the A squad.  When my guys book club discussed the book we unanimously agreed that we would all love to work for a boss as demanding and meticulous as Jobs.

The same sentiment is shown in Stephen Ambrose’s book (and celebrated mini-series) Band of Brothers.  Some of the paratroopers of the 101st volunteered in order to be surrounded by ‘the best’ as opposed to being drafted and surrounded by, and have their lives in the hands of, a varying degree of soldier in the regular Army.  In the same vein: do you want to spend your heartfelt effort, precious creativity and limited time surrounded by people that are just looking for a J.O.B.?  Or would you rather be surrounded by others in your chosen field with a proven record of top quality work that is not just turned in to a boss, but is crafted for sharing with the world to make it better?

You can tell a lot by the process that a company identifies and recruits talent.  Cattle call job fairs are great… if you are livestock, or want to be a human resource.

How To Stand Out Above the Stack

You may say “But, using a resume is how it’s done.  How else am I going to get in the door?”

With the Internet and traditional media there are many ways to get noticed and gain valuable experience.  Here are some job types and example techniques:

  • Programmers – Start an open source project, or go to a collaborative work space like Geekdom to recruit like-minded people to collaborate with to produce a web or iOS app.  Get on a site like Stack Overflow and answer questions in your area of expertise while simultaneously building up your reputation score.
  • Designers – Do design.  A lot.  Showcase your work and even sell some of it like my friend Sean McCabe.  Design and sell your own font, icon library, CMS theme, or print posters.
  • Youth Pastors – Develop a curriculum for studying a book of the bible targeted for 9th graders.  Video your messages and put them on your own YouTube channel.  Coordinate a conference for youth and create a movement larger than your circle of influence that will have global impact.

No matter your industry there is a way to be creative in showcasing your talents and value to potential employers.  The inertia of action will draw people, the right kind of people to you.  You may find opportunities through the attention you receive or you may find a client that turns into an employer or collaborator.

Whatever you do, do not leave yourself or your talents open to someone questioning you by saying “Prove it.”


Photo by CharlotWest.

My Setup

I enjoy reading an interview blog called  The Setup.  It answers the question: “What do people use to get stuff done?”.  It actually answers four questions, but I’ll get to that later.  It’s not only designers and developers that are interviewed, but novelists, artists, scientists, students, photographers and self described ‘hacker-philosophers’.

Who are you, and what do you do?

I am Daniel Espinoza, and I am a freelance web developer working at Grow Development with a focus on ecommerce development using Magento and WordPress ecommerce plugins (WooCommerce and JigoShop).

What hardware are you using?

My main machine is an early 2011 iMac 27″ i5 with 4GB RAM connected to a second 23″ monitor. (Writing this just reminded me I forgot to buy that RAM upgrade.)  The display is simply amazing and I cringe using any other machine.  I’m currently running Snow Leopard, but will upgrade to Lion soon.  I like to be a late adopter of OS upgrades to let developers shake out the inevitable bugs and inconsistencies between versions.  I use an Apple bluetooth keyboard and Magic Trackpad. I used to have an IBM (Logitech) keyboard that was physically split down the center that I loved since it allowed me to sit with my hands comfortably at shoulder width since I have broad shoulders.  It was loud, had great tactile feedback and was all I ever wanted.  The Apple keyboard has taught me that I really want the keyboard to be like a good waiter – work well, but barely be noticed.  I used to be an avid trackball (thumb version) user, but switched to the Magic Trackpad last year.  I’m a big fan of gestures now.

Since you will be ridiculed for taking you iMac to inappropriate places I also have a 2007 white Macbook that I bought when I started freelancing to escape cubicle nation.  It is still powerful enough to be useful when I need to be mobile, but is starting to show its age.  I use the Macbook at home and on the road.

I use a 16GB black iPhone 4 that I have with me at all times and feel naked without. I regularly ask my wife “How did we live before having an iPhone?”.  My carrier is AT&T even though the entire tech world bemoans their service.  Since I live in the city of their former corporate headquarters I think the service around here is just fine.  However when I travel I do see the shortcomings of the service.  Having survived a swim in the toilet and several drops I do believe my iPhone to be invincible.

My desk is an Office Depot “L” shaped glass desk.  It looks nice, gets dirty easily, and serves its purpose.  At home I work on an Ikea Expedit bookshelf/desk combo.  My chair is a “Space Chair” I got from an office closeout store.  I’ve also got a small Ikea couch that my wife and I call “The world’s smallest couch”.  I use it for reading and afternoon naps.

I borrowed a Doxie to go paperless and will borrow it again to keep up with digitizing all the random documents that I receive right before they get shredded.

I don’t have my own iPad yet, but regularly borrow my wife’s first gen iPad.  It has the perfect form factor/battery life/screen size for home and on the go use.

On my desk are some old JBL speakers, a Yeti Blue microphone that I use for recording screen casts and Skype calls, a Canon MP210 printer that is only used for scanning since I hate hard copies, a phone connected to a Vonage VOIP modem that has my business Google Voice number forwarded to it.

An essential in my office is a Honeywell Oscillating Fan.  The air movement creates a sort of white noise that keeps me sane.

And what software?

My development stack is fairly typical:  I use Chrome for normal web browsing, but use (the slower) Firefox for development so I can use FireBug.  I haven’t been able to get used to Chrome’s inspector.

On the mac I use MAMP Pro for local development installs.  I have Eclipse and Xdebug installed but don’t use them nearly enough.  My day to day IDE for the past several years has been Coda, but I’m planning a switch to PhpStorm.   I use Navicat Lite (free version) for database queries and manipulation.

For source control I use a combination of SVN through a paid Springloops (which offers both SVN and git hosting) account with Versions as a GUI, but all new projects are going into git and github.  I need to implement a deploy script as easy as Springloops’ one touch deploy to make the final switch.  Github’s Mac GUI is useful and free.

Graphics stuff gets done in Photoshop CS3 (why upgrade?) and Skitch for annotations or screen shots.  Videos get done in an old version of Final Cut Express, screen casts in Camtasia

I usually have at least one Terminal window open since the command line is still the fasteset way to get things done, especially for a toch-typer.

Backup and sync of important files I want access to across multiple devices is done with a Dropbox account and Crashplan for total machine-to-cloud backups.

Productivity software is the multi-device syncing Wunderlist.  I tried Things for a while, but no syncing killed that initiative. I manage my money with Quicken for Mac synced via Dropbox for personal finances and QuickBooks Online for business books.   I tried a few other services (Mint, Less Accounting, Outright, Freshbooks) but none of them felt right.

Other software and web apps I use for business are:  is Harvest for invoicing and time tracking and Google Voice for a phone number (seldom used).  Google Docs and Google Calendar for their respective offerings.  I have a minimal Basecamp account, but am getting away from running my own projects so this will be going away soon.

I use an old-school (pre Twitter buy out) version of Tweetie for Twitter.  Something doesn’t feel right about the native clients, so I stick to 3rd party ones.  Adium and Skype keep me connected to clients and friends.

I’ve uses a combination of Mail.app and web Gmail for email, but am now switching to Sparrow on the desktop.

I get my music from a paid Pandora One account and a free (for now) Spotify account.  If I feel the need to own a track (not often) I’ll get it from the Amazon MP3 store.

On my iPhone home screen is Echofon (paid) for Twitter, Instapaper for catching up with all those articles I wanted to read, Kindle for books, Flipboard (the absolute best way to consume content on touch devices), Flixster, iBooks, Hipmunk for planning flights that I may or may not take.

What would be your dream setup?

Right now my dream setup would be the top-of-the-line Macbook Pro (for portability) with the largest SSD possible linked to multiple very large Thunderbolt displays.  Also, I’d like a Dropbox-style Universal desktop to sync the entire desktop experience – so that when I leave my office and get home (or go to a coffee shop)  I open the machine and it syncs with all open programs, all data from those programs, window positions, etc.

I’d love fiber to my home and office.

Finally, I’m a big fan of alternate input devices, and I can’t wait to see what is done with a combination of Siri (for voice), Kinect for (motion), and touch in the coming years.  As these technologies become more ingrained in the OS of devices the way we interact with information and with the collective data available on the web is going to be exciting!


Genesis of a New Blog

With an upcoming re-branding of my main business and (hopefully) launch of a second, I decided to utilize my name TLD for a place to share thoughts on disparate topics that didn’t necessarily fit into our family blog and are too technical/dev-ish to go on the Grow Development blog.

Although I originally bought the .me out of a sense of obligation (after narrowly missing out buying my name’s .com, damn you squatters!), this domain has grown on me and I’m at peace with it being my main platform of sharing.

Note: The gallery image has nothing to do with the blog, other than it’s a picture I took in Paris that I liked.