If you are an information technology job seeker you have probably emailed your resume in response to several job postings and received limited response. Do you feel that your resume goes into a black hole and no one is even reading your resume? Well, you are probably right.
The art of writing an effective resume has changed significantly over the last 20 years especially if you are in the information technology field. In fact, many of the typical resume writing standards that are leveraged in sales, management and finance positions do not apply to technical resumes.
The technology job market is competitive and company needs are always changing. New trends indicate that it is no longer good enough to be skilled in general technology concepts like Windows Administration, rather, to get the interview you need to have specialized skills that go beyond basic administration. Virtualization, Clustering and many other skill subsets are what recruiters are looking for in resumes. So, make it easy for them to find your resume by following some basic resume guidelines.
One Page Resume: Never make your resume one page unless you a recent graduate or have less than 2 years of experience. I personally believe this is the worst advice you can get from someone in writing a resume, especially technical resumes where the more skills and key words listed the better.
Insider Tip: If someone gives you this advice, turn around and run away!
Most Important Part of the Resume: Key words? Technical skills? Education? Wrong. It is your personal contact information! You would not believe how many candidates forget to list a phone number email or address. Don’t want to list your street address? Fine, just list the city you live in because a recruiter may not call you if they think the commute is too far for you.
Insider Tip: Although you may think it looks stylish to write your name and contact information in the Header or Footer of the resume, resist the temptation. The reason why is when you submit your resume to a job posting or email a recruiter, often is gets automatically parsed in their Applicant Tracking System (ATS) database. Most of these automated parsers cannot identify text in a Header or Footer so your resume will be loaded into the database without your phone number or email address.
Career Summary: Start your resume with a Career Summary and engage the reader from the start. Start with more general information regarding overall years of experience and then continue to make the summary more specific with pertinent skills, accomplishments, projects and certifications. Bullet points or paragraph form is fine.
Insider Tip: Don’t worry about redundancy if you list a specific technical skill in your Career Summary, as well as the Technical Skills section, and again under the job where you used the skill. Non-technical resume readers assume you are an expert in a skill the more times they see it on your resume. Also, if you have a strong educational background with a MS or MBA make mention of it in the summary as it is a huge sell point. You spent a lot of money on that degree and you don’t want to have it listed only in the Education section at the end of your resume where it might not be read.
Title Yourself: Don’t make recruiters read your entire resume to figure out what you really do. So make it easy and title yourself. In the Career Summary section give yourself a job title that caters to the job to which you are applying. Calling yourself a “Windows System Administrator” is much more effective than just “Seasoned IT Professional”.
Insider Tip: Resume Search Optimization is 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. If you write your job title as “WindowsR2/Active Directory/Exchange System Administrator” you may think you are being smart by adding more keywords but yet it won’t appear in a search for a “Windows System Administrator”. So keep the job titles simple and write specific technologies after your title.
Technical Skills: For technology resumes it is common to have a Technical Skills section that includes a laundry list of every technology you have worked with throughout your career. This is a very good idea even you are not an expert in the particular technology. The purpose of the summary is to give the reader an idea of technology environments you have exposure to in the past.
Insider Tip: In this Technical Skills section, be sure to include different versions, modules and releases of the technologies you have worked with in the past. Again, these are skills that are commonly searched by recruiters so if you don’t have “R2” listed next to your Windows Server experience you resume may never be found in their search.
Job Experience: The first thing I read on someone’s resume is the current job experience and corresponding detail. You current experience should always be longest in length compared to previous jobs and should include technical as well and functional experience.
Insider Tip: 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. You might not think developing an application on a Sun Solaris platform is important to recruiters but it just might be the key to them giving you a call.