3 Steps to a Great Information Technology (IT) Resume

Jobseekers in the technology sector face a unique set of challenges when developing a resume. For starters, you have to deal with the fact that oftentimes the first set of eyes reviewing the documents might not possess an IT background, and therefore cannot fully understand the scope of responsibilities held and accomplishments. Secondly, clutter becomes a major issue when you’re trying to insert technical skills, keywords, professional certifications, and other relevant details within the span of 2-3 pages. How do you solve these problems? How do you ensure your resume makes an impact within the brief period of time a recruiter/hiring manager will spend scanning it? Here are 3 expert strategies:1) IMPLEMENT A CLEAN FORMATDuring the years I’ve spent working with IT clients on their resumes, I’ve seen all manner of formatting gimmicks, from top-loaded openings filling up the first page, to flashy sidebars listing certifications and logos, and resumes stretching to 6+ pages. Here’s the simple answer if you’re thinking about “getting creative” with the format of your resume: it DOES NOT WORK. Recruiters and hiring agents are very particular when it comes to formatting, as it’s a way for them to extract key details about a candidate in the shortest possible amount of time. Here’s what they’re looking for:-A brief opening paragraph highlighting 3-4 key skills in-line with the type of job you’re targeting. For example, a candidate for an IT Project Manager position could focus on his/her ability to lead global teams in deploying efficient solutions, capitalizing on offshore vendor relationships, and applying comprehensive knowledge of Waterfall and Agile methodologies. This approach piques a reader’s interest, and invites closer analysis of your work history.-A “Core Competencies” section listing in-demand keywords. You can identify which keywords to insert here through reviewing job postings you’re interested in submitting to. Which skills are frequently requested? For example, an IT Manager could identify skills like Multi-Project Management, Quality Control, and Strategic Planning. It is absolutely essential to include this section, as it helps ensure your resume passes muster when scanned by Applicant Tracking Systems such as Taleo and Kenexa.-A work history listed in reverse chronological order (most recent to least). Every position should begin with a brief paragraph outlining unique responsibilities, followed by a “Project Highlights” or similar section listing successes (in bullets). Place the greatest amount of emphasis on jobs held within the past 10-12 years while successively streamlining older positions. This keeps the focus on more recent work and reduces clutter.-Succinct closing sections (“Education”, “Professional Certifications”, “Technical Proficiencies” and others) listing industry-related credits only. EXPERT TIP: High-level IT candidates typically DO NOT include a “Technical Proficiencies” section as it’s assumed they possess an extensive foundation in hardware, software, languages, etc.2) STRESS THE BENEFIT WHEN LISTING ACCOMPLISHMENTSMany IT jobseekers think an effective accomplishment consists of a laundry list of technical jargon. Nothing could be further from the truth. Focusing on the BENEFIT of what you did is a far more impactful approach. For example, let’s take a look at the following excerpt:Managed a five year $60M project with an annual budget $12M for enterprise claims systems (ECS) for 35 Insurance Company. Executed this project in the onsite & offshore model using 140+ technical resources, including external vendor resources.Does the above communicate expertise in the field and leadership? Does it focus on the BENEFIT? Now take a look at this revised version:Delivered major capability gains for 35 Insurance Company through guiding 140+ technical resources in implementing enterprise claims systems. Utilized onsite and offshore model, rapidly adjusted to changing project needs, and capitalized on external vendor resources. Garnered outstanding client feedback.Using this approach throughout your resume will significantly increase its overall impact.3) SOLICIT FEEDBACK FROM BOTH IT PROFESSIONALS AND THOSE OUTSIDE THE FIELDResumes don’t exist in a vacuum. Before making the decision to start submitting yours for positions, be sure to solicit advice. Make sure IT professionals offer their opinion on whether your resume contains enough relevant technical information. Conversely, reach out to people outside the field to see if your resume is understandable and effective. By gathering information from these 2 sources, you’ll be uniquely positioned to edit the resume to strike the right balance.Best of luck in your job search!