Welcome to the weekly Underrepresented in Tech Vlog with Michelle Frechette and Allie Nimmons

Underrepresented in tech is a free database built with the goal of helping people find new opportunities in WordPress and tech. Overall, let’s dive in with this week’s vlog.

Allie: Good morning, Michelle.

Michelle: Morning Allie. My favorite time of the week. 

Allie: Good. How are you doing today?

Michelle Okay, so, so there’s the, I’m fine. I’m doing great. And emotionally with think I am fine, but I had a little dental work yesterday, so I feel like it might even affect my talking today. Cause just a little tender. But other than that, I’m good. 

Today’s topic: resumes!

Allie: Cool. Well, we like to keep these short and sweet, so you won’t have to be talking for too long. So today we are going to be talking about resumes and I’m really excited because I haven’t had to write a resume for myself for a pretty long time. I’ve done some job hopping in the last few years, and I haven’t really had to, I’ve been lucky enough to not have to worry about that, but I know that helping people write their resumes is something that you do.

And I think that it can be challenging for a lot of underrepresented people to write a resume that is accurate to who they are, but toes the line of what is expected of them. Right.

So I feel like just as an example, as a woman say, I was really into pink and flowers and like, that was all that feminine stuff was just super, super my thing And I wanted a resume that was pink and had flowers on it. That’s not acceptable really. And the professional world-0

Michelle: I can’t think of the movie …

Allie: Legally Blonde! I just watched that the other day. I do remember like she hands him her resume and it’s on pink paper and it’s like scented, like lavender and he’s like, wait, this is kind of cool.

Michelle: Don’t don’t be that trope! No, absolutely. It should be just black and white, for sure. 

Allie: I just, I wanted to just talk a little bit today about the kind of thought of masculinizing or white-ifying your resume.

How you present yourself through your resume in a way that still represents who you are as a unique individual?

But, you know, meets meets the hiring person where they are as far as what they are looking for. Cause also with the resumes, I feel like you want to stand out, but you don’t want to send up too much. 

Michelle: Right, right. You don’t want to stand up for the wrong reasons. 

Allie: What are the right reasons on what the wrong reasons? 

Michelle: So, I mean, I’ve seen a lot of resumes in my time. I’m a lot older than you. I literally go back to the time when, like my mom had to go get resumes printed somewhere because we didn’t, nobody had printers in their houses. We didn’t have computers.

Like it was the seventies. It was the early eighties, like none of that existed. So you actually went someplace and had somebody prepare a resume and make 50 copies of it. And you mailed it into people or you physically dropped it off. And so there’s this old school way of thinking that resumes have to be very generic because they have to be applicable to any place you’re applying to.

And they also have to be one physical page and that they could be on like cream or white paper with black ink. And while some of that still is prevalent today, like a lot of people don’t want like five page resumes and that kind of thing.

But we don’t have to have one resume anymore that we send to everything and, and hope that we can just change the cover letter enough to make it applicable. Right?

Michelle’s Resume Advice

So this is my advice is you should have a resume on your computer tht is like your main version. And then you take that one and always make a copy of it and perhaps tweak it for any particular job you’re applying for.

So, you know, in the WordPress industry, you might be applying for a job as a junior dev or you might be applying our dev, right? I mean, but I’m thinking like entry-level, but like a junior dev or you might be applying for customers like customer service or support, and those two resumes would look different.

Right. So in one you want to really emphasize the development work you’ve done in the programming work you’ve done. Oh gosh. I just. As a programming that made myself age. Right. But right there, the dev work you’ve done or you might want to focus on your ability to talk to people, how you, you know, manage and any support work you’ve done in the past.

And of course, dev work comes into that too. Right. But in a much different way. So you’re, so the first thing is don’t think you have to have one resume that fits all situations.

Your resume shouldn’t be too weird!

A big mistake that I’ve seen in the past is people trying to put so much onto one page that they have, like, they, they open up InDesign and they make this like weird document with lions going sideways texts, going up the left and down the right and everything else.

And that may be appropriate if you are going for a design job. Right. And you want to show that you can really lay out information in a fun and interesting way. But if you’re like applying to a customer success job with me, and it looks like a newsletter, I’m not interested, that’s not something that’s going to resonate with the kind of work you’re going to be doing with me.

Your resume shouldn’t be too long!

So you really do need to be careful that you are including the appropriate information, but not too much information. You’ve laid it out in a way that my eyes can scan down, can understand who you are. Without trying to turn the page every, you know, because we’re not printing them off anymore. Right. I don’t want to have to like, be flipping the page around on the screen and everything to read it.

Do I need a statement of purpose?

So, so those are just some basic tips. We used to ask people to put like a statement at the top, like a statement of purpose, like I’m seeking a job, blah, blah, blah. That’s not something that we put on resumes anymore. Because if you’re seeking, if you’re applying to a job with me, I know you’re seeking a job like that.

How should I include my cover letter?

Like don’t pad your resume and, and, and like try to fill in the blanks with stuff like that. And you can always put that in a cover letter or cover email, right? You don’t have to have it. And that’s the other thing is you don’t have to have a cover letter separate from the email. You can actually just use your email as a cover letter, but speaking specifically to people who are underrepresented, I think it’s always important to be authentic to who you are.

What if I have a name that stands out?

You and I were talking a little bit before there have been people who suggested even people in the African-American community and the Black community who suggest that you should change your name or use a middle name or not use a name that sounds like it’s part of the Black community.

I disagree with that for a couple of reasons, number one, I think you always want to be your true, authentic self. Do you want to start working at a place where you get called your middle name or you get called a nickname because you didn’t want to be your authentic self on your resume? I wouldn’t want that. I don’t know about you 

Allie: The thought process that comes to me also for that is, you know, say I had a name that fell into that category. I’ve heard stories about hiring managers who see a name that sounds Black or sounds Mexican, you know, seeing a Garcia or something and they just don’t even look at it. They see the name and they turn it over.

That’s not a company I want to work at anyway. Right. So why would I change myself to work at a place or somebody was so unprepared to accept just my name? I don’t want to work there at all to begin with. So if you put your authentic self on that resume and that isn’t an issue, right? I mean, that’s kind of the bare minimum that you can ask, but you’re already starting off in a good place where you’re working for somebody who’s not decided to judge you on that basis.  

What if my resume isn’t getting me work?

Michelle: Exactly. And I do get that sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. You can go a long period of time without having a job and feeling really desperate and need to make changes like that.

But I would suggest talking to somebody in the industry to find out what, what on your resume is turning people off because guaranteed, if you’ve got a year without a job, it’s not your name. You’re not presenting other information to your best light. Maybe there’s a spelling error in your cover letter or something that might turn off at a hiring manager.

So there’s probably something else at play. I a hundred percent agree be your authentic self all the time. You know, I don’t hide who I am. I am a plus size, 50 something year old woman. And trust me, I know that people know who I am in our industry, so it’s not like I could hide behind, you know, changing any information or not being forthcoming on a resume and that’s, you know, if somebody wants to be a fat shamer, I don’t want to work for a fat shamer. I don’t want to work for somebody who says, “Oh, Michelle. She should go on a diet.” I mean, first of all, you don’t know my health history. You don’t know anything else about me, so don’t make assumptions and it has–

Allie: –nothing to do with your job.

Michelle: Exactly. Trust me. I can sit at a desk like the best of them!

Allie: This is a conversation worth having though, for sure. Cause I’ve heard so many horror stories and read articles where someone was like, my name is Jose and I wasn’t getting any calls back for jobs. And I decided to submit my resume with the name, John. And I started getting calls. It does happen.

I’ve heard some of those things where women have pretended to be men on a resume and they started getting more calls. So it does happen. But I think that the problem doesn’t stem from you as the applicant, it stems from the hiring practices.

So I think the more that people can have these kinds of conversations with each other, the easier it will be for folks to just not have to worry about that. 

Michelle: Absolutely. And like you said, do you want to work in a misogynistic environment? Do you want to work in a racist environment where it might not be overt?

Sometimes people don’t realize that they have those racist intentions or biases. Prejudices. Some people just aren’t willing to acknowledge it. I don’t want to work with that person anyway. I don’t want to be the one that has to educate somebody about those things.

The challenges of educating people about diversity

Over the last year and a half, mostly since the George Floyd murder, then we’ve been talking a lot about what it means to be a black person in the United States. And the idea that, you know, you, Allie shouldn’t have to educate me, Michelle on how to be sensitive and how to be an ally and all of those things. Like I should be doing that research on my own and just being your ally.

So I don’t want to have to be the person that walks into the company and have to educate everybody about whoever I am. And my backgrounds and things like that in a way that that helps change the environment that you’re working at.

I actually thought about you this week, Allie, I was watching a television show called Zoe’s Playlist. And so they had an episode this week where it was about the practices of this tech company. They had some real racist bends and biases, and one fellow stands up and says something about a publicly. And the board comes back to him and says, we want you to retract your statement if you’re going to continue to work here.

Now, it’s an extreme case for television. My guess is it doesn’t always happen that blatantly and that openly it’s, it’s more like those microaggressions that just make you leave on your own. But the way that they decided to take things forward in the show and other people came forward and other people said, I experienced this too to try to start to change the culture. And of course, you know, we’re going to start a committee and you get to be at the top of the committee. And I’m like, well, that’s probably not the right way to do it. But on the other hand, do you put a white person at the top of that committee?

Allie: Yeah. It’s interesting, I’ve been in that position a handful of times, and I’m just the type of person where I don’t mind it to a degree. Like, I don’t mind. I mean, I’m sitting here with you, right? Like, I don’t mind educating people. I don’t mind having these kinds of conversations, but it does get kind of exhausting sometimes. Especially if you are the one who is expected to do the work. Yeah, it gets pretty exhausting.

Michelle: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. I mean, my daughter is, is, you know, multiethnic, biracial, whatever the terms we’re using now, what she applies to herself. She calls herself a black woman. In the height of wanting to be a good ally I would say, should I post this?

She’s like mom post it or don’t, I’m not here to approve and put the stamp of approval on things. And I was like, Oh my God, I can’t believe that. That’s what I was doing, asking her to be the the gatekeeper for my voice. And so, I had some self-reflection last year and you know, like I’m going to put myself out there as the ally I am, but if I make missteps and people call me on it, that’s okay.

Because I have learned from that. Yeah. 

How to ask for help as an ally

Allie: I can’t, obviously, speak for all underrepresented people or all multiracial people or all black people, but I think, like with all people, we’re all different. So I think that there are some people who are willing to have those conversations and to help.

Like if you ever sent me something to say, you know, what do you think, should I post this? Should I send this whatever? From my perspective, that is you trying to learn and you appreciating that I have perspectives that you don’t. If you’re constantly coming to me with those questions and you’re not learning from the last time we had this conversation, that’s a different story.

And then there’s some people who just don’t want to have to do that at all. So you’re watching this. Yeah. If you’re watching this and you’ve had those moments before where you’re wondering, like, maybe I should, like, I’m not so sure about this. Ask someone.

Reach out to someone and say, listen, I appreciate that you have perspectives that I don’t, I want to be sensitive and make sure that I’m not just completely putting my foot in something due to my own ignorance. Can I ask you about this? Do you have the capacity to have a conversation with me about this?

And, and I’ve had people reach out to me to say that too, like you can absolutely say no, like I will not be upset or offended if you don’t want to talk to me about this, but I figured I would better safe than sorry. I should reach out anyway.

I personally really appreciate that. Right. Especially right now, when as a society in America, at least, we are growing so much in our thought processes and people are learning. I do have these biases. I do have these prejudices. Maybe I’m not a full blown out racist, but I’ve been raised to think about things a certain way. And I would like to unlearn. I don’t believe that you can do that all by yourself. I do think that you need some help sometimes. But it’s all about setting expectations right. Not expecting people to have to help you or have to explain things to you, but to be cognizant of the fact that we have a choice whether we can do that or not.

And yeah, I I do those sorts of things with my friends who are blind or deaf, if I have accessibility issues, I’m not an expert on that topic. I don’t have that life experience or those perspectives I can assume and try and make the best decisions possible, but I’m still learning. And so I would rather ask somebody.

Is this useful to you? Or am I just assuming that it is? And I’ve learned so much from those conversations. Yeah.

Michelle: We should have a conversation in one of our vlogs ableism, because that’s a huge issue in every industry and in America specifically, but that’d be a good conversation to go on forward.

Avoid making assumptions about resumes

One of the things that we talk about a lot is how companies can do better. And one of those ways is not making assumptions about somebody’s name on their resume. So if you are a hiring manager maybe even like just fold – I’m talking about paper copies again. Scroll past the name, look at the body of the resume, because a name is a label that’s been applied to somebody.

I want to be called by my name. But I want to be known for my work for hiring, and then call me by my name. Once you determine I’m the right person to bring into the job. So, so just scroll past that part and look at the body of the work and that speak for itself and then go, wow, what name do I apply to this amazing work?

So, yeah, so let’s just be better. Let’s be nice to each other. Let’s be kind to each other. Let’s do better, be better.

Some final resume tips

And so I don’t know that I gave you a lot of resume advice this week, but I think that having a decent resume, it can be one or two pages that’s for sure.

But be authentic. Be yourself. I don’t think you should white-ify or whitewash your resume. But make it legible and readable and all those wonderful things. And then I think we decided next week, we’re going to talk about some interview techniques and when you’r interviewing for a job and when you are perhaps the interviewer, how you can do better and better represent yourself and be open more open-minded as a hiring manager.

Allie: Yeah, absolutely one tip that I’ll slide in there before we go. I’ve always had success asking a friend or a colleague who I know has had experience hiring people to glance at my resume for me. Two sets of eyes are better than one, right? Like I’m a crappy speller and Michelle corrects my spelling on stuff all the time.

So I like just having somebody look at it for spelling and grammar mistakes, but also if somebody has had experience hiring before they might say remove his bit… I don’t think people are gonna care about that… but I know that you did this thing and that would look really good on here…

So I think having somebody who’s had that experience and had been through that process can help out a lot as well. 

Michelle: Absolutely. Cool. All right. We’ll see everybody next week. When we talk about interviewing and until then have a great week!