Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Objective Statements - Do You Need One?

   I've been doing a lot of resume screening lately so I thought I'd write up a few of my thoughts.  Ever since my early days as a hiring manager I've told people not to include an objective statement on their resumes.  More often than not, it is worthless.  Usually it equates to "I want a job."  Well, yes.  I could infer that from the fact that you submitted the resume.  Lately I've had some change in my thinking.  I still find most objective statements useless but a well-crafted one can be useful in the right circumstances.

   What are the right circumstances?  The only time I can envision an objective statement being useful is when you are submitting your resume into a large pool.  If you are submitting directly to the hiring manager, it won't tell him/her anything the presence of your resume does not.  Don't waste the space.  If, on the other hand, you are submitting to a large pool such as Dice or Monster or a large company like Microsoft where many hiring managers will be looking at your resume for disparate positions.

   What should be in the objective statement?  Something like, "To obtain a challenging position in the field of software the utilizes my skills" isn't too helpful.  Don't try to sell yourself via your objective statement.  It isn't a mini cover letter.  It should be a clear statement about what sort of job you are looking for.  "A full time position as a senior software developer" is probably all you need.  If there are more specifics--say you are interested in video--make that clear here too.  "To obtain a position as a program manager in the field of digital video." is probably good.  I think there are two main things you are trying to convey here: 

1)  What class of job are you looking for?  Management?  Development?  Testing?  Program Management?  Architect?

2)  Any specific areas you want to focus on.  Know that if you put down specific areas, it will probably cause you to be overlooked for other jobs.  Saying you want to work on telecommunications means you probably won't be tapped for a job working on video editing.  Make sure you are okay with that.  Generally, I would suggest only doing this if you are really passionate or really experienced in a particular area.

Monday, October 17, 2005

MSN Search Getting Better

   As a good corporate citizen I began trying MSN Search several months ago with the initial release.  At first it was pretty painful.  I would search on MSN, not find what I wanted, then switch over to Google.  Recently, however, I have found that I almost never resort to using Google.  MSN Search is finding what I'm looking for.  In fact, I have noticed several instances of MSN Search being better than Google.  First, MSN seems to have more current results than Google.  Several times lately I have searched for something current and found results on MSN when Google still has none.  A recent example was my last post.  This showed up on MSN just hours after I posted it.  Google took until the next day.  Second, MSN is sometimes giving the more relevant links first.  Let's go back to my last post.  If you search for "Some Perspective On Vista" on Google, my blog will be the 4th link.  The first 3 are pages that link to my blog.  On MSN Search, my blog entry is first, followed by all of the pages that quote it.  In my mind at least, the original source should always be ranked above something quoting it.

Update 10/19/05 - Sigh.  Google is indexing this article now but MSN Search is not.  For what it's worth, Yahoo doesn't have it yet either. 

Friday, October 14, 2005

Some Perspective On Vista

   It's been quite a while since Microsoft released a new operating system.  Windows XP was the last consumer OS to ship and that was 4 years ago.  By the time Vista ships, it will have been 5 years.  There are a lot of consequences of such a long release cycle but the one I want to speak about is perspective.  Rather, the lack of perspective.  Most people today watching Vista come along have no perspective about what a new OS is like before it ships.  When XP was being built, the world was less connected.  There were no blogs.  There were far fewer web sites dedicated to rumors and leaks.  The consequence of this is that most people didn't see what the OS really looked like until it launched.  Those that did tended to read about it in magazines with long lead times and carefully scripted presentations.  Today, the public gets to see a much more raw version of the development process.   Another consequence is that even here inside Microsoft, many fewer people have shipped an OS.  Why does this matter?  I have seen a lot of people reacting to early releases of Vista in a negative light.  It is too slow or it doesn't look different enough or it is buggy.  There are also a lot of positive reactions but those are not the aim of my essay. 

   People who react negatively don't realize that this is always what an OS looks like before it ships.  Think of building a new OS a lot like cleaning a messy room.  The first thing that always happens (at least when I clean a room) is that it gets even messier.  I start organizing things by taking them out of their places and spreading them out.  Before I know it, every surface including the bed and the floors has piles of stuff on it.  If I stopped at this point, the room would be worse than it started.  After sorting everything into piles, I can then put it away neatly and more organized than before.  The result is a much cleaner room.  An OS is similar.  The first thing you do is start removing old, working parts and replacing them with new parts.  These new parts start off less powerful and less stable than the parts they are replacing and only over time become more powerful.  A good example of this is in the world of audio.  The team I work on helped to produce the new audio stack in Windows.  For beta 1 the stack was present but didn't do much the old stack didn't do.  If we did our jobs right, all that work would never be noticed.  If we screwed up, things that worked before wouldn't work now.  For Beta 2 we are able to add all sorts of cool new features on top like per-app audio. 

   The point here is the early releases of the operating system (or any application going through a major overhaul) is going to look worse before it looks better.  Take heart those of you watching the process unfold.  Vista will be an exciting OS with lots of cool new features.  I've seen some of the recent Beta 2 builds and it is looking much more impressive.  I can't say anything about it but if you watch places like Channel 9, you'll probably see some of it soon.  You can also see some of it in the PDC demos which were given about a month ago.