Jim Kelly leads development of Quantcast Measure and Quantcast’s advertising platform. As one of the company’s earliest employees, he has seen it grow from a small team to now more than 600 employees. Countless resumes have passed his desk, making him a fountain of knowledge for tips on how to stand out from the crowd.
The traditional resume might be on its way out in this age of LinkedIn profiles, but for the moment it remains a critical prop for any job hunt. Having read thousands of software engineering resumes over the decades, I can offer some advice about what to leave out of yours. Unless, of course, you enjoy interviews so much you’d hate to see them interrupted by a job offer.
1. Describe responsibilities rather than accomplishments
If you say you “built a data import API” or were “responsible for the login module,” you’re describing your area of responsibility. It is definitely useful to make your area of technical expertise clear, but you’re probably not talking about what’s most important to your reader.
Companies hire people they believe will add the most value to the business. What really matters to your reader is what business impact you had in your previous roles. He or she will probably know nothing about your data import API or how it contributed to company success, so it’s up to you to bring the company success to life in your description. Try “Built a data import API for broader compatibility, which allowed sales to bring in over 40 new major clients.”
If you don’t know how the project you’re working on now contributes to company success, stop coding until you figure it out. You’re actually writing your resume every day, in what you choose to work on and how you approach it. If you have a clear view of the business impact you’re after, you’ll make better prioritization decisions, you’ll communicate better about your project, and you’ll deliver more impact.
2. Describe activities rather than responsibilities
Responsibilities are less powerful than accomplishments, but if you really want to torpedo your resume, list activities such as “collaborated with customer support” or “received product requirements” or “participated in full product development lifecycle.”
You could say a lot of things in your resume, but you have only a few seconds of your reader’s attention to create an impression of yourself. You must choose what to write about, and your choices send a message about what you think is important. They create the impression that these were the most remarkable things you did in your role.
Spending your words on activities sells yourself short. “Collaborated with customer support” says, ultimately, that you had some conversations with your coworkers. “Participated in full product development lifecycle” says…well, it’s not clear what it says. Perhaps you sat quietly in scrum meetings? Even listing a more complex activity like “led and implemented batch job development” is a missed opportunity to talk about the bottom line: why the batch jobs mattered.
Look at you, brain the size of a planet. You certainly did more difficult things than these, and more importantly you did them to accomplish something valuable. Talk about the value you created.
3. Use lots of adjectives
So you’ve written “shipped video management app” on your resume, and it looks threadbare. An insufficient tribute to your majestic product. You’re tempted to dress it up with adjectives and adverbs, turning it into an “innovative video management app” or a “popular, highly interactive video management app.”
Resist the urge. Leaning on adjectives weakens your resume for two reasons. First, adjectives tend not to communicate much, because they mean different things to different people. There’s probably a specific aspect of the design you consider “innovative,” but the reader will not be able to glean anything in particular from the word. Adjectives tend to be vague and subjective, statements of your opinion more than your accomplishments.
Which leads to the second problem: adjectives undermine your credibility. The more you use, the more your resume sounds like a set of opinions open to debate rather than a documentation of facts. Extolling your “proven track record” even conveys a whiff of defensiveness. Either your resume proves your track record to your reader’s satisfaction or it doesn’t; claiming to have proved it just makes you sound nervous that your accomplishments don’t speak for themselves. If you feel uncomfortably boastful as you write your resume, you may be relying too much on adjectives.
Mark Twain advised, “Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.” To get your accomplishments to scream off the page, state facts about them rather than opinions, and where possible back them up with numbers rather than adjectives. Say “increased video management app adoption from 3,000 to 800,000 users in 10 months.” Say “led development of three $10M+ products in past 6 years” and let the reader make conclusions about your track record. The conclusions about statements like these two will probably be positive – because management wouldn’t have entrusted you with the second and third projects unless you succeeded on the first.
Numbers are powerful statements of fact, so powerful that you may be scared to cite them because you don’t know them precisely. Kudos for your integrity – it’s important that any number you claim be honest and defensible. But they don’t need to be auditable or provable in court, nor is high precision usually critical. Estimate where appropriate. And going forward, figure out the key metrics defining the success of your products and keep a close eye on them every day. It will improve your decision making today, in addition to improving your resume tomorrow.
4. Send a text file
An ASCII resume in a text file conveys some geek cred but ultimately doesn’t make you look good. First, it doesn’t look good. At best it will appear to your reader in a single-size monospaced font with crude formatting. But it may get shot up in the feud between different devices and apps over line endings, column widths and wrapping conventions and stagger toward your reader double spaced. Or with your whole career squashed into a single line. Or lines may wrap awkwardly. If you left off a .txt extension, a number of people who need to read it may not be able to open it at all.
A well-formatted PDF sends a much better message about you. It demonstrates you know that your resume will pass through many hands, not all of which have emacs handy, and it shows you had your users’ needs in mind. It also shows you can be detail oriented and make something look presentable on a page. If you do any front-end work, that’s a critical skill to demonstrate. And even if you don’t, you will still need to communicate in writing internally.
5. Make it 10 pages long
Lean in close, that I may whisper a Great Truth of business communication: people do not read.
We hiring managers may read less than anyone. We get 1,000 emails a day and have 30 things competing for our attention at any one moment. Even 140-character tweets stretch our meager attention spans.
So, confronted by a 10-page resume, we’re prone to take one of three impressions. Perhaps the writer is not one of us. She comes from a distant galaxy where people have lots of time to write and read long documents. Do people there get any work done, we wonder? Would she adapt to our environment, with its deadlines and distractions and emails to turn around quickly? It takes a leap of faith.
Or perhaps the writer wanted to edit down the size but couldn’t. Maybe he gets caught in a compulsive frenzy of completionism in every project he takes on. Not an encouraging prospect. Or perhaps he doesn’t know what jobs and accomplishments matter the most for hiring decisions and career success, and would need close oversight to prioritize well. That might be fine for a junior candidate, but a junior candidate wouldn’t have been able to fill 10 pages to begin with.
Keep your resume to a page or two. Edit your recent jobs down to a few major accomplishments and earlier jobs further than that. Don’t detail roles that aren’t relevant to the job you’re after. Cast overboard the summary paragraph describing the conclusions you hope your reader will draw from what follows. Crop out the night class you took or the certification you got if it’s eclipsed by proper degrees or job experience. Less is more.
The alternative: The lean resume
Another Great Truth of Business: many hiring decisions are based on fear. Saying too much in the hope your reader will find something to get excited about is therefore a bad strategy. “Feeling their pain” is a trite saying, but still relevant; take a few moments to consider what the hiring manager doesn’t want from you, and calm those fears.
What you actually need to say explicitly is quite simple: if you want a specific role, list it as a job objective; if you have only a vague idea, leave it off. List jobs you’ve held. Then add objective facts, ideally with numbers, about accomplishments germane to the role you’re after. These can be job accomplishments, degrees you’ve earned, school projects, patents, publications, awards…anything goes as long as it’s objective and relevant. Then stop typing before you trip any alarm bells.
The best resumes, and the worst, persuade based on what they leave unsaid as much as what they say. By keeping yours focused and well presented, you will demonstrate qualities that set you apart without mentioning any of them. Your reader will see that you communicate clearly and factually, you produce high-quality output without fluff, you understand what’s important in this job, and you have relevant experience. The lean resume – one that is easy to work with – also communicates that you’re easy to work with.
Posted by Jim Kelly, VP of research and development
One of the best parts about working at Quantcast is the amazingly intelligent, friendly and eclectic group of people we’re privileged to call coworkers. In the spirit of celebrating our unique culture and the individuals that contribute to it, each month we’ll profile an outstanding Quantcast employee you should know. Up first? Gaurav Chandalia!
Name: Gaurav Chandalia
Title: Senior Engineering Manager
Awards: Q1 2015 Bucket o’ Cats Award – Engineering Quarterly Team Award
What is your role and how long have you been working at Quantcast?
I lead the performance-based ad targeting product team. We build and operate the real-time prediction systems that power our advertising products. I’ve been at Quantcast for almost 5 years.
What is your favorite part of working at Quantcast?
I would say being surrounded by great people over the years and a part of building a successful product. It’s been a great learning experience personally to work on challenging problems and see the company grow to new heights every year.
What is the most challenging project you’ve worked on at Quantcast?
Quantcast makes millions of real-time decisions every second to reach the most relevant audiences on behalf of our advertisers. The most challenging project was a while ago to revamp the technology used to make these real-time decisions. Our goals were to handle more transactions per second – while at the same time processing more data in real-time than ever before and improving the relevancy of our models to target the right audience at the right time.
What is your favorite QC snack?
Sriracha cashews are awesome!
What are your favorite hobbies?
Hiking and reading books. If only I could combine these activities without stumbling over…
Check in next month for another look into the life of a Quantcaster with the Quantcast Employee Spotlight!
Posted by Capri Mali LaRocca, Marketing Communications Associate
Reaching the right audience has always been a central goal of marketing and advertising. As digital advertising has evolved from a nascent to an integral marketing channel, new tools and technologies have emerged that have added a new level of targeting precision, relevancy and measurability. Brand marketers are now increasingly turning to digital for its effectiveness in reaching the right audience. As new digital audience targeting and validation tools continue to enter the market, which are resonating with brand marketers?
We partnered with Forbes Insights to see how brands are using audience targeting in digital advertising. Key findings from the survey of more than 300 executives include:
- Almost all companies (85%) surveyed consider display and digital video a key component of their marketing message or branding because it allows them to better reach the right audience.
- Companies value how audience targeting increases brand campaign effectiveness, and most (84%) expect to increase investment in audience targeting.
- The primary challenge for audience targeting is identifying the proper personas. 54% of companies agree that its the biggest challenge.
- The importance of validation is growing. 84% of companies surveyed expect the frequency with which they validate campaigns to increase in the next three years.
- Audience guarantees, inherited from television buying practices, do not yet have a strong hold. Still, marketers are more likely to work with media sellers who offer it – 93% are more likely for display and 86% for video.
To learn more about how brand marketers are using digital advertising and audience targeting to enhance their branding campaigns and how they are measuring campaign success, read the full report here.
Posted by Marina Feldman, Product Marketing Manager, Brand Solutions
Trying to understand the complex world of finance can often seem like an overwhelming task. To make issues like options trading easier to understand, tastytrade.com launched as an online financial video network. To learn more about tastytrade.com and how they use Quantcast Measure, we recently spoke with their Director of Marketing, David Wald.
What is tastytrade.com and how did you get started?
DW: At tastytrade, we build products that enhance the lives of people interested in trading…whether they are just starting out, or have been trading professionally for years.
We have two key products: tastytrade.com and dough.com. We started tastytrade.com about four years ago, as an online financial network with a mission to make finance fun. At that time, we realized that there was a huge gap in financial content that was both entertaining and actionable or investable. tastyrade now offers over 8 hours of live, original programming every trading day, and thousands of hours of VOD archives.
The next logical step was to address the steep learning curve for new traders, so we developed our web-based visual trading platform, dough. We’ve designed dough to be the easiest way to learn about, understand, and see trading, while also allowing new and existing traders to have an unparalleled trading experience to build and develop their trading!
What is the goal of tastytrade.com?
DW: Our goal is to build content that engages everyday people who want to trade, helps them improve, and provides actionable and entertaining insight into the markets. We see our network as the only place you can watch our personalities trade the markets live, every day the market is open. Traders love to learn by doing – so we see ourselves as a perfect fit.
What are you all trying to Measure?
DW: Today, it’s imperative to know exactly who your audience is so that you can definitively show value to advertisers and partners. There’s no longer room to be unsure in your metrics; everything in our space is about audience measurement, analytics, and quantification. So, in order to compete and maintain the standard that we’ve set, we actively measure our audience to understand its exact composition.
Why did you choose Quantcast?
DW: We felt Quantcast gave us a new level of insight and easy to use metrics (presented very visually) that helped us to continually improve our understanding of our audience. Plus, it didn’t hurt that it was free and easy to install with our “universal pixel” company, Segment.
Who did you find that your audience was?
DW: We had always believed that our audience was affluent, well-educated and generally awesome (obvious bias acknowledged). Quantcast was able to cull that down in simple ways that confirmed our speculation. Our Measure profile helps us quantify that our audience skews towards grad-school educated with an income of $150k+/year. We typically include the two graphics below from our Quantcast profile in our presentations to potential advertisers.
Any recent success you’d like to share?
DW: Historically, we focused our advertising and partnership efforts almost exclusively toward financial related products and brands. In the past few months, we’ve made the strategic decision to open up our partnership opportunities to companies outside of this space and recently closed two large partnerships! These haven’t been announced yet, but you might get a teaser if you keep an eye on our @tastytrade twitter handle over the next few weeks.
Posted by Nick Binder, Product Marketing Manager, Publisher Solutions
Today Quantcast joins Google and many other partners in announcing our support for utilizing HTTPS as the industry standard for display advertising platforms. This is a significant change in the industry standard that will ultimately make the internet a safer environment for all. Quantcast fully supports this change for it’s positive impact on internet users, and hopes the rest of our industry will also embrace this shift and the substantial security benefits it brings.
What is HTTPS?
The difference is just one letter, but the impact is significant: browsing the web using HTTP vs. HTTPS. Why does it matter? The "S" in HTTPS stands for secure and it means you’re surfing the web using SSL. SSL (secure sockets layer) is an Internet protocol that provides secure communications for web browsing, email, instant messaging and other data transfers. When you use SSL (indicated by a URL beginning with HTTPS) the information you share online has an extra layer of security in the form of encryption.
What Does SSL Mean for Digital Advertisers?
The security benefits of this shift for users and marketers are substantial, but it will require advertisers to make some adjustments in how they prepare their creative in order to continue to access inventory that moves to SSL. In order for advertisers to access the high-quality inventory from publishers who adopt SSL, advertisers’ creative must be SSL compliant. This requires all creative assets – including any 3rd party partner’s pixels placed within an ad – to be able to deliver successfully within a SSL environment. Without SSL compliant creative, you will lose access to inventory from many premium publishers.
High Security, High Quality
Quantcast supports SSL to ensure that users have the most secure browsing environment and that advertisers have access to the highest-quality display ad inventory online. If you’re looking to learn more about SSL, you can reach out to your Quantcast account team or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We can help you understand the right questions to ask your media partners and the steps you need to take to be SSL compliant. Quantcast is excited by this initiative and the positive impacts it will have on the industry, but in order for this to truly make a difference, we can’t do it alone. It’s time for all members of the digital advertising ecosystem to come together in support of SSL as an industry standard. Please take the time to educate those around you on the benefits of SSL and make sure that your company is fully SSL compliant. Small changes on a large scale can make a huge impact.
Posted by David Grant, Director of Product Management
Understanding attribution, the process of allocating credit to different advertisers within the customer path to purchase, is critical to understanding what events truly influence individuals to convert online. Yet, the attribution models most commonly used in digital marketing tend to incentivize the wrong behavior from vendors and lead to ineffective spending of precious ad dollars. Attribution models that only use last touch or measure from the conversion event encourage more lower-funnel tactics like retargeting that skew metrics, prevent marketers from finding new customers and are easily gamed. But there is hope for an evolution within the industry…
Today marks a fantastic milestone towards greater transparency and more effective attribution measurement in digital advertising. Ensighten, a global leader in omni-channel online marketing, is announcing the launch of Split Funnel Attribution measurement in their enterprise data and tag management platform. By leveraging the first site visit as the delineation point between upper funnel prospecting and lower funnel retargeting, Split Funnel Attribution helps advertisers get a more accurate view of which actions most positively impact their customers in the path to conversion.
This new approach to attribution was pioneered by Quantcast, a vocal supporter of increasing transparency and improving attribution measurement for many years now. We felt so compelled by the idea of how this would instantly make online advertising campaigns more effective that we decided to build a proof of concept product to prove it. In the fall of 2013 we launched our Split Funnel Attribution offering for display advertising and it has been a runaway success.
While Quantcast’s own attribution product has been extremely successful on its own, it was only designed to cover the display advertising channel and intentionally left out other marketing channels like search, affiliate, email, social and video. Now with our collaboration with Ensighten, advertisers can leverage the unique Split Funnel Attribution metrics and insights they have grown to love across all marketing channels.
Quantcast is very excited to partner with Ensighten around this new attribution methodology. We will be looking for advertisers who are eager to start using Ensighten’s Open Marketing Platform with Split Funnel Attribution. Please reach out to your Ensighten representative to inquire about opportunities to participate.
Not sure what Split Funnel Attribution is or why you should be using it? Check out these articles and videos to learn more:
Posted by Seph Zdarko, Head of Partner Strategy & Attribution Initiatives
Quantcast and our long-term client Roman Originals were recently featured in a Marketing Magazine article that took a deeper look at the advertising that went on behind #TheDress – a story that was hard to miss.
But just in case you did miss it: On Wednesday, February 25, a little-known Scottish singer posted a picture of a dress to Tumblr asking (she and her friends couldn’t decide) whether it was white and gold or blue and black.
Not exactly the biggest news story of the decade … except it almost was, and by Friday not just the Internet but even international news stations were asking, “Blue and black or gold and white?” For one party in the debate – Roman Originals, the manufacturer of the dress and a long-term Quantcast customer – the answer was obvious: blue and black, just like the actual dress. However, the story did raise other questions: What does this mean for us and how can we use it?
The nature of viral Internet trends is no different than any trend on the Internet – they happen constantly and all too commonly are missed. You need to have the ability to spot these trends and be able to react to them. In the case of the dress, Romans turned to Quantcast.
According to Quantcast data, on Friday the 27th product detail pages were seeing a lift in visits of over 3000% on the average, and thanks to this real time data both Quantcast and Romans were able to make some quick decisions to react to this unplanned phenomenon. Off the back of the data they launched an ad containing a gif of the dress changing color and the hashtag (#TheDress). The ad either informed people it was back in stock or invited them to join the debate. This ad was then served to anyone in the target population for Romans.
The ad Quantcast built for Romans in reaction to #TheDress
The ad was launched on Friday afternoon. Because of the relevance to current events, it garnered a CTR 20% higher than the average Romans ad over the weekend. This activity is a great example of relevant advertising driving customer engagement.
Not only did engagement with the ad and the Romans website skyrocket, they saw an increase in conversions of 182%.
In digital advertising it is important to remember that there is a time and place for every ad and we shouldn’t just serve ads to everyone in the general population. However, it is equally important that when an opportunity arises marketers should have the ability to see it, understand it and react to it in a timely manner.
This is a glimpse into the future of digital advertising where ads are built in reaction to the latest external trends, tech that can read the Internet and present a great creative option – the future is closer than you think.Posted by Duncan Way, Marketing Associate
Quantcast has been an authoritative source for measuring the size of top digital properties since 2006. Publishers, advertisers and or media planners use our list of the Top 100 Sites and our Site Ranks to get a description of the audience size of a particular property. However, Measure users can take this one step further by directly comparing the audiences for different sites within publisher profiles.
The Compare tool makes it easy for publishers and developers to quickly see how their own traffic stacks up against other properties or competitors. Users without a Quantified property can also do competitive research, or inform media planning and advertising buys.
To use the tool, simply go to the publisher profile of any website and check out the traffic report right at the top of the profile. You will see the Compare button at the top right corner of the traffic chart.
To see the comparison, simply click on Compare, and enter the website you would like to compare audiences with. You can choose up to three properties to include in the comparison, and the traffic report will re-populate to show you the traffic trends over time between the two properties.
You can use this feature for any of the Quantcast metrics, whether you want to compare Pageviews, Uniques, Sessions or People. You can also easily adjust the dates to look at trends over any period of time. For publishers, advertisers and researchers, this simple tool makes it easy to compare any site over any period of time.
Posted by Nick Binder, Product Marketing Manager, Publisher Solutions
This week, The Wall Street Journal published a story about the vast differences in accuracy from the many available data vendors. The story was based on a study conducted by the agency Mediasmith, with media funded by Quantcast. The study was large and expensive — eleven vendors, six segments each, in both the US and UK — here’s why we were willing to pay for it.
First, we believe in the value of third party targeting data, and many in our industry don’t. Third-party data is often dismissed as inaccurate or viewed as a class below first-party data. Some advertisers and publishers are justifiably skeptical given their bad experiences, which can include underperforming campaigns or campaigns with no delivery. Poor-performing products have poisoned the well for third-party targeting data. But an important distinction is often lost: All data vendors are not created equal.
Marketing from data vendors doesn’t help. We all sound the same, making it impossible for publishers and advertisers to get real clarity about the quality of different data vendors. Many brand name vendors that are expected to perform don’t live up to expectations. I imagine that if I used Tide in my laundry and my clothes still came out dirty, I’d question the value of laundry detergent too.
Thankfully, we now have validation services such as Nielsen OCR that can objectively compare the accuracy of different vendors. When working with potential customers, we’ve looked to these validation services to demonstrate our advantage, benchmarking our performance against other vendors they might be considering. The proof is in the performance, not in the marketing.
Which gets us to why we funded this Mediasmith study. We saw that there was no incentive for others to pay for this large-scale controlled testing. Certainly not other data vendors. But even for advertisers and publishers, many of whom aren’t aware of the vast performance differences, it would be hard to justify the time and expense.
Quantcast has an unfair advantage over other targeting vendors, not because of our involvement in the study, but because of our massive proprietary dataset, technology advantage and modeling expertise. That sounds like marketing, but these advantages translate into real benefits for our advertiser and publisher customers. We invested in this study because no one else would, and because it’s time for targeting customers to raise questions about the accuracy of their data vendors.
Posted by Jag Duggal, Senior Vice President, Product Management
On January 22 we celebrated our campaign with top 100 retailer Missguided by winning the award for best digital marketing retail campaign at the Northern Digital Awards.
The judges highlighted, among other things, our high level of technical innovation as the reason for winning the award.
The campaign, which started in 2013, is a prime example of how true personalization in digital advertising can yield amazing results. Through the use of our dynamic retargeting technology, Missguided is able to show every user a fully personalized ad based on what they have browsed and where they are in their customer journey, resulting in a 25% increase over the targeted ROI.
Posted by Duncan Way, Marketing Associate