Your resume is the first impression hiring managers will receive about you and your skills. If your resume isn’t concise regarding who you are and what you do, it will unfortunately be their last impression. A well-formatted resume with the right amount of detail can be the ticket to scoring an interview, so it’s important to take your time and get it right.
Now, let’s put yourself in the employer’s shoes and determine what questions to ask yourself when presenting a resume:
Now that you have put yourself in the employer’s shoes, it’s important to anticipate any concerns so that these are taken care of from the start. Employers spend an average of six to seven seconds reviewing a resume before deciding whether to toss it or consider it. Therefore, it’s vital to capture their attention by making it easy to see to read, revealing that you are their ideal candidate and why that is so.
Additionally, successful candidates know that they can’t submit identical resumes to every position. A good tech resume will be adapted for each job to which you’re applying, highlighting different skills or experience based on the job posting. Your goal should be to make it as easy as possible for the hiring manager to understand how your experience aligns with the opportunity, leaving no questions unanswered.
Let’s look through the different blocks of a technical resume and identify best practices for each.
The first section of your resume should be a few sentences providing an overview of your skills and a statement of what you’re seeking in a new job. Use this space wisely; you’ll want to include the highlights of your relevant experience (ex. years of experience in specific programming languages) rather than soft skills (ex. “detail-oriented programmer”).
The goal of this section is to give an overview of experience and criteria for your next opportunity, so that if it’s the only thing the manager looks at, it’s enough information to know whether they should keep reading.
Here’s an example of a good summary:
Detail your technology experience immediately after your summary. You’ll want to include things like
The list you’ll include here depends on how technical you are, and you should only include those you’re comfortable using. Include the technology brands you’ve used – for example, specify which ERP, etc. These brand names are often key words in the end that will bring your resume to the top of the stack.
As you list your technology experience, be sure to note your years of experience and rank your proficiency so that hiring managers get an accurate picture of your capabilities. You can accomplish this by ranking your ability on a scale of 1-10, a visual graphic, or terms such as working overview, moderate knowledge, and advanced knowledge. However, you choose to display this information, it’s essential to keep it clear and concise.
Put your education and certifications after your technical skills. A lot of companies prefer to see formal degrees, including anything from Associate’s degrees up to Master’s and PhDs. This is true even for highly technical roles like developers; employers often see formalized education as evidence that there’s a basis upon which additional skills can be built.
This section is also where you’d include certifications and boot camps, including the year you achieved it and whether it is still valid. Include those which are in progress, too, specifying that they’re in progress and noting the dates you expect to complete them.
This section is the highlights reel of the work you’ve done. Include achievements such as the number of successful projects you completed, including whether you worked on them through part of the software development lifecycle or the entire lifecycle. Other accomplishments to consider including are:
Pay close attention to this section as you customize your resume for each application; you may wish to highlight specific accomplishments on different resumes based on the job descriptions.
The last, and longest, section of your technical resume will be your experience. Pay close attention to formatting here; you’ll want it to be easy for the hiring manager to skim. For example, each job listing should start out with the job title and years on the first line and the company name directly under the job title, all bolded. Then list the job details in brief bullet points, and consider including –
After listing these bullets, write out different Technologies and detail what was used in this position to clarify when you last worked with them.
With less than ten seconds to catch the eye of hiring managers, it’s essential that you make your resume easy to skim and highlight your most impressive, relevant experience. The goal for your resume should be to explain everything so clearly that you preempt any questions or reservations the reader may have. Remember: if it’s not on the resume, it might as well not have happened.
Happy job hunting!
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