As a professional resume writer who has reviewed thousands of resumes over the years, I see many of the same mistakes over and over again. There is some flexibility about how a resume can be written and structured, but hiring managers are always looking for certain things that indicate whether or not you’ll be a good fit for their organization. The resume is perhaps the step that you have the most control over in your job search, so it pays to make sure that it is doing the one thing it’s suppose to do – get you interviews. Below is a list of five simple things that you can do that will have a dramatic effect on your resume.
1) Don’t forget to emphasize your soft skills
Most IT professionals make the mistake of thinking that their hard technical skills are going to be the main thing that recruiters and hiring managers are looking for. While mastery of a specific language, platform, or applications is certainly important, it usually doesn’t end up being the primary differentiator amongst candidates. What makes a candidate stand out to those making the hiring decisions is their ability to add value to a project team, consistently come up with solutions that can save time and/or money, and make a positive contribution to the company culture.
2) Make your resume ATS-friendly
Complex search techniques are used by corporations, recruiting agencies, and job boards when your resume is uploaded in to their Applicant Tracking System (ATS). So cater to this with succinct and searchable job titles that will help your resume appear when recruiters run a Boolean search in their ATS database. A good way to determine keywords is to read job descriptions for positions that interest you. If you see industry buzzwords, incorporate them into your resume.
Additionally, list your specific IT certifications accurately and clearly to communicate what expertise it has given you, including technology focus, specific skills and unique abilities. Consider writing a “Technology Environment” bullet point at the end of your experience. This is a great way to incorporate technical skills into your job detail even if you did not use the technology directly.
3) Get specific
If you are applying for an opening that has very specific technical requirements, they will expect you to have a strong understanding of those applications. So rather than simply state that you used C++ to create applications—be specific about how you put it to work and what the results were.
Consider breaking each position into two part: the day-to-day job responsibilities and major accomplishments. The job description should paint a short, but clear, picture of what you were hired to do and should have technical detail that, critically, shows the technology’s impact on business. Both the hiring manager and the CIO want workers who understand technology’s role in the business. Use bullet points for 3-5 accomplishments in each role, quantifying their impact as much as possible.
4) Create multiple versions
If you are in more than one role (or have skills that may fit more than one role) you should have multiple versions of your resume available that highlight those skills. For example, if you have years of experience as a software engineer, and also have project management expertise, have two resumes: one highlighting your software engineer experience and another highlighting your project management experience. Typically, the only major changes you would have to make would be in the opening profile or summary of qualifications section as your experience would remain the same.
5) Make it readable
Tech resumes often become these dense unreadable documents that are incredibly difficult to skim through. Utilize section headers and white space to separate the different areas of the resume. Vary the design a bit, writing job descriptions in paragraph form and using bullets for accomplishments. Use bold and italics to make some of the more impressive bits of information stand out. And finally, proofread the resume multiple times before sending it out, ensuring that there are no grammar mistakes and that everything makes sense.
Keeping these five things in mind will help you stay on the right track and give hiring managers a much clearer picture of the value you can bring to their organization.