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Upon an job advertisement's request, I'm brainstorming creative ways to present a sysadmin resume, and thought I'd augment my own ideas by seeking examples. What creative ways have you seen a resume formatted?

Also, If you're a hiring manager, did it impress you? Do you feel HR is more likely to screen them out?


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Related:… – Adam Gibbins May 6 '09 at 15:15

I'd put focus on your experience and achievements. Who you worked for and how did proved your worth to them. I don't consider qualifications to be a great turning point, they're all theory rather than practical, experience far outweighs them in my view.


When I'm looking though CVs/Resumes/Whatever, I'm not interested in how 'cute' or clever you can format a document, instead I'm trying to solve a problem.

If you can't clearly and concisely demonstrate why you can solve the problem I have better than the other applicants then I'll put your application in the reject pile.

Don't be 'clever', just try to understand the problem the people doing the hiring are trying to solve and then make sure everything you send them is geared towards making it very easy for them to understand how well you can help them solve that problem.

Boring but effective.


I think this guy pretty much nailed manpage as resume.


I keep the name and contact info relatively small - they don't care about your name and you lose real estate.

Then put what you are looking for: experienced sys admin looking for voip lead role in a technically challenging environment. (they need to know what you want, and what you are.)

I then put a list of skills:

servers: Windows 2000 through 2008-R2, CentOS, Ubuntu (I don't put nt, 2000, 2003, 2k3R2 2008, 2008-R2)... They should know. If you are going into a large org that will be indexing your resume then list all of them. Leave the linux distributions, I think it's more important to list each one.

languages/scripting: c++, python, perl, c#, powershell, bash

network: cisco, etc..

Then I put top 3 achievements (Career Highlights)

  1. Saved company x 2.3 million over 3 years by fixing the interwebs and filtering junk email.
  2. Successfully planned and integrated fortune 500 acquisition ahead of schedule.

That's what they are looking for first, in my experience. Do NOT make them read through your experience to figure out what the heck it is you do. They might go through a stack of 20 at a time and they don't have time to waste. They will biff you if you waste their time.

Put a few lines of info about each past job. Make sure to put symbols like $ and % which will draw their eye. Look at a page of text, your eyes will be drawn to symbols. Figure out a way to quantify something. "Reduced system deployment time by 80% by scripting install via powershell and vbscript."

A manager thinks in numbers and dollars saved. Let them think that you do too. :)

I always seem to get an interview now that my resume is formatted like that.


What creative ways have you seen a resume formatted?

Don't get cute, this is a document you are using to introduce yourself to a business. You should be professional, and concise.

Also, If you're a hiring manager, did it impress you?

Last time I was going through resumes it annoyed me when someone got creative with their presentation. I want to be able to quickly look at your resume, see your skills and your experience. So No. I'm in it, i'm impressed by straight lines and facts :)

Basic outline

  1. Header w/ name and contact info
  2. Skills
  3. experiance
  4. education

Do you feel HR is more likely to screen them out?

Yes they are, most days "HR" is nothing more than an OCR machine looking for keywords. If it can't OCR your resume, you don't make it through.

"If it can't OCR your resume, you don't make it through". That is not entirely a bad thing. If a robot is screening a resume ... I don't want to get through :-) – Kyle Brandt Sep 2 '10 at 20:59
However I do agree with not getting too cute with it. Design companies might be an exception, but in general you want to roughly gauge your style to the culture of the company while always keeping it professional. – Kyle Brandt Sep 2 '10 at 21:09
@Kyle very true. Although ya gotta make it through the OCR if you want to put in the time to get large enterprise experience on that resume! – Zypher Sep 2 '10 at 21:09
I guess I framed this question poorly; the application process for a business I'm looking at specifically asks for creative resumes. – jldugger Sep 2 '10 at 21:25

I use emurse for my resume. Good for distribution, formatting, and updating.


Be careful with "clever". Things that are "clever" often make it difficult to see the real information underneath.

Many sysadmin resumes are very poorly written, which is frustrating. I don't care about your height and weight. I don't really have time to read 2 paragraphs which describe what you did at the previous job. I also don't want to read a 5 page resume.

When I receive your resume, it's usually part of a pile of 30 other resumes or more. I sadly don't have a lot of time to read over each resume, and reading resumes can be draining.

A resume is like an executive summary of your experience. We can drill into the details later with a phone interview and a face to face interview.

Boiling your experience down into 2-5 bullet points is a skill. It takes practice, and you'll need to go through a few iterations.

Here's what I want to know:

  • What can you do for me and the team here?
  • What did you do, and how did that help your employer or team?
    • If possible, back up your statement with a few objective numbers. (Did something impressive, thereby increasing up-time from 99.8% to 99.9%)

Use bullets:

  • Bullet points make it easy for me to read the information. I also believe (from personal experience) that bullet points make it easier for you to write and present your information.
  • Keep each item short. One or two sentences per bullet point. Maybe three, if the task was extra impressive.

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