Getting your foot in the door starts
with an effective resume
By Kelly Cavanaugh
The current job market is competitive for everyone, but perhaps even more so for IT professionals. Getting your foot in the door starts with having an effective IT resume. To put together a resume that attracts interest - and accurately reflects the complete range of your knowledge and experience - keep these tips in mind.
What to include
Unlike resumes for most professional jobs, an IT professional should include a "Technical Summary" at the top of his or her resume. The Technical Summary should be short and concise, including such vital information as:
- Technical certifications
- Knowledge of operating systems, hardware, networking/protocols
- Experience with programming/languages, database and Web applications
- A brief description of the key technical skills you used in each of your jobs, so employers see your current skills and understand the depth of your experience with them
Many programs and applications serve as keywords that should be part of your IT resume. A review of most technology job boards will give you a good idea of the types of skills and credentials most often employed. Be sure to include those keywords most relevant to your experience (don't add programs or applications you're not familiar with, because your claims will catch up with you later on).
A "Career Summary" is also important, since employers want to know the IT professional they hire works well with others, has some interpersonal communications skills and is capable of understanding the company's strategic goals. Eliminate the outdated "Objectives" section, using your Career Summary to note your professional achievements and your goals, briefly and concisely.
What's of most interest to recruiters and hiring managers are your specific achievements as an IT professional. Some technology job applicants mistakenly choose to list everything they've ever worked on, which translates into an unmanageable amount of detail and a resume of such length few people will ever take it seriously. Focus on what is relevant to the position you're applying for.
For an effective IT resume, think in terms of results. What positive outcomes did you generate while leading or actively participating in company initiatives? Did you improve an operational process? Shorten the time-to-market for a new product? Save money through the use of different technology?
Include specific challenges you faced in your previous IT positions and describe how you overcame those challenges. If you can include performance figures in your IT resume (dollar figures, percentages, etc.), so much the better. Hiring managers look for examples of ROI they can envision taking place in their own companies.
Finally, information about your educational background is needed, but not in any great detail (don't include high school attendance, for example). Be sure to list degrees and professional certifications and leave it at that.
How to present your resume
Try looking at your current resume through the eyes of a recruiter. Does it seem too long or too short? Do you use three words where one or two might work instead? Just as we're all in the habit of scanning content online, hiring managers scan resumes for relevant information. If they don't find any in the first few seconds, chances are they will simply move on. Other tips:
- Keep your summary paragraphs short and to the point.
- List activities and results in bullet-point format.
- Avoid use of personal pronouns like "I" or "me" or "we."
What's the proper length of a resume? This varies, depending on the number of jobs you've had and the extent of your professional experience. If your content is meaningful and relevant, don't be afraid to go to two or three pages. Just remember - there's no need to include your entire work history. Focus on information that's relevant right now.
Before submitting your resume
Putting your IT resume together in a presentable format isn't the end of your responsibilities as a viable job candidate. It is critically important that your resume be free of all typos, misspellings, mistakes in grammar, etc. Proofread the finished product carefully. Then give it to two people for review. Make whatever changes are necessary and then proofread it again.
Also make sure the information included in your resume is consistent with your social media profiles. Prospective employers will likely check your Facebook page and LinkedIn profiles (at the very least) and any significant discrepancies in your work history or technology background will serve as a red flag (and a strike against you).
Finally, don't make the mistake of thinking "one size fits all." You're applying for a variety of IT positions, so it makes sense to take the time necessary to customize your resume so it's of most interest to different employers. Anything you can do to set yourself apart from your fellow job-seekers is a point in your favor.