DBA resumes that make the cut

Is your DBA resume so yesterday? Get ready for today's job market with common sense tips for writing the perfect Oracle DBA resume.

Check your spelling. Be specific. And don't lie -- or even exaggerate. Those resume tips might sound obvious, but IT managers and database administrators said the biggest mistakes they see on technical resumes could have been easily avoided.

If you're a DBA whose resume landed in the garbage not long after it landed on a hiring manager's desk, then you might heed the advice of experts who have seen it all -- misspellings, mistakes, misrepresentations.

We look at a resume and if it doesn't reflect a detail-oriented person then it gets thrown out.
David Wright
Oracle DBAChurch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Of course, DBAs need to do more than just tell the truth. They need to elaborate on their real-world experiences and how they relate to the jobs they want, and to provide examples of specific technical projects, according to DBA recruiters and hiring managers.

A Des Moines, Iowa-based Oracle DBA with over 20 years experience, Dan Hotka runs training programs on Oracle Corp. products and counsels job seekers.

"I speak at a lot of user groups and people are always asking for advice in this area," Hotka said, referring to the numerous inquiries he receives regarding resume writing. "Many people learn that they're forgetting the most basic common sense techniques."

Hotka starts his workshops by showing a "functional" resume, limiting the information provided to general work experience, skill sets and certifications. A functional resume highlights the relevant skills for the position, but places little emphasis on job history, Hotka said.

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Then Hotka introduces what he calls a "traditional" resume, complete with job history and work experience, along with a business card attached with a paperclip.

"When shuffling through a lot of resumes, a functional resume stands out and is the meat of what you're first trying to get across," Hotka said. "Everything else you can answer later. And keep that resume short, because a five-page resume is going to tell the hiring manager that this guy is way overqualified."

Finding DBAs that meet specific qualifications is the job of David Wright, who fields resumes from hundreds of prospective DBAs seeking the many Oracle DBA jobs that exist at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Wright, who serves as president of the Utah Oracle Users Group, said a misspelling on a resume can make or break a request for an interview.

"You miss a small detail on a database and the whole thing crashes to the ground," Wright said. "We look at a resume and if it doesn't reflect a detail-oriented person then it gets thrown out."

Top 5 resume tips

1. Name the same skills that the job advertisement does.

2. Highlight any experience with the latest technology.

3.List appropriate certifications beneath your skill sets.

4. No exaggerations.

5. Be specific about which hardware and DBMS systems you have worked on.

Wright said he prefers that DBAs drop the job objective section of the resume. Often times, DBAs try to be eloquent with the objective and end up being too verbose, getting them in trouble.

"I'd rather see someone pointing out the new challenges they've faced," Wright said. "Today that means telling your experiences with RAC [Real Application Clusters] and grid computing or any legitimate experiences showing some diversification in coding jobs, pearl and shell scripting."

James F. Koopmann is an Oracle-certified DBA who runs a Denver, Colo.-based Consultancy Pine Horse Inc. Companies, Koopmann said, are looking for diversification.

"You've got to highlight some of your soft skills and what you've done for a company as opposed to the different types of languages you know," Koopmann said. "You've got to tell a company how you can help them as opposed to just watching their database 24/7."

Telling a story to get across a firm knowledge of the latest skill sets is important, but the next step is finding the right person to send of the resume to, Hotka said. Use local user groups and network your way to the next job, he added.

"The jobs that I've found through networking have tended to be my best jobs," Hotka said. "Be honest with yourself and by all means don't lie on your resume, because if you do land the job, you'll likely end up being miserable."

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