For anyone job searching, writing a resume can be an extremely challenging task, but for information technology (IT) professionals, it can be especially difficult. The highly technical industry is constantly evolving, and resumes need to be continually updated.
Understand Attention Span
Across all fields, job listings often get hundreds or even thousands of submissions. Due to volume, hiring managers often just skim resumes. If your resume is just a block of text, your application will likely be discarded without the manager ever reading it.
To avoid this, you need to break up your resume into categories, such as education, work history, and skills. You should also create bulleted lists to neatly summarize key information. Lists and categories make resumes more visually appealing and easy to read.
Limit the Length of Your Resume
Hiring managers have a limited amount of time to devote to reading resumes, so try to limit your resume to one page, or two at the absolute most. Anything more than that two pages will probably be ignored.
Use your resume to highlight your biggest achievements but be sure to remove any work experience from college or high school. Also, remove any experiences that are not directly related to the job you’re applying for. If you have a variety of experience, you may want to create different versions of your resume that highlight those different experiences. These experience-specific resumes can be used when applying for different positions.
Highlight Accomplishments, Not Tasks
Most resumes read like a list of tasks, such as "updated company software, used problem-solving skills to troubleshoot, created databases." While this tells a company what you did each day, it doesn't set you apart from the competition by highlighting what you uniquely bring to the job.
Instead, focus on your accomplishments and mention them as specifically as possible. For instance, if you created a program that simplified processes and saved employees time, that is important to mention. Any instance where you delivered results ahead of deadline, under budget, or exceeded expectations is worth highlighting.
Whenever possible, use numbers to quantify your successes. For example, if you developed an app that saved your company money, state how much money it saved. If you helped streamline a process, use a percentage to show how much more efficient the process became. IT recruiters, especially, appreciate this kind of data.
You should tailor every resume to fit the job you’re applying for. One way to do this is to include keywords from the job listing on your resume. For example, if the job listing includes a number of required skills, include those skill words in your resume (although only if you have those skills). This will help a recruiting manager easily see that you are qualified for the job.
Moreover, many companies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to screen applicants. If an applicant does not have enough keywords from the job listing in their application, the candidate might be eliminated.
Remove Personal Interests
Unless your interests directly relate to your work, employers really don’t care if you're passionate about soccer, music, or photography. Be sure to take out the interests section of your resume.
The only exception to this is if your outside volunteer work corresponds with your work. For instance, if you created a program for a local non-profit to manage donor information, that is something that’s relevant to include on your resume.
Although you want to remove unrelated interests, you do need to include tech skills on your resume. In a section labeled “Skills” (or something similar, like “Technical Competencies”) include any software programs, programming languages, and other skills that are important for the job.
There’s no need to include the basic tech skills that most job applicants have, such as knowledge of Microsoft Office.
Avoid Confusing Technical Language
While you’ll have to use technical language in your resume (for example, in your list of technical skills), avoid using too much jargon, especially acronyms and terms that some people aren't familiar with.
Avoid technical language that was specific to your old company. Instead, stick to industry terms that everyone in IT is familiar with. Keep in mind that recruiters may not be familiar with tech jargon, so only use as much technical language as you need to show what you're capable of.
Review Resume Examples
Having an example of a resume may make the process of creating or updating your resume easier. Perusing sample resumes for such positions as Front End Web Developer, Help Desk Technician, Software Engineer, Tech Contractor, and Web Developer will prove helpful.
Proofread and Edit Your Resume
Just because you are in IT doesn’t mean you can have spelling or grammar errors on your resume. Make sure you thoroughly proofread your resume before submitting it. Ask a friend or even a career coach to read through your resume as well, looking for errors as well as inconsistencies in your formatting.