All candidates strive to craft the perfect tech resume. But with the rapid evolution of technology and tightening talent market, it can be difficult to keep pace. There’s always one technology or competency missing, or maybe you don’t quite have the years of experience a hiring manager might prefer. This doesn’t disqualify you completely though. Different things are attractive to different employers, so it’s nearly impossible to please everyone. Plus it’s important to remember that your resume is simply your ticket to the interview, not the be all end all.
I’ve worked with many clients and candidates over the years, and have helped consultants tailor their resumes for the roles they want. And in some cases, I’ve even placed tech professionals who might’ve not been a obvious fit on paper, but found tremendous success in their new positions. Sadly, we can’t just walk into a company, say hi, and ask to be hired, so here are a couple things to keep in mind for crafting your tech resume so you enter the job market with confidence.
As a candidate you’re responsible for every piece of information on your resume. This means you need to be able to provide concrete examples for your skills and listed technologies, and be able to speak to them with authority. This is particularly relevant to developers and engineers. If you work with specific technology every day on the job, be sure to list it. I can’t tell you how often candidates take certain skills they have for granted, and don’t highlight them on their resume.
You can even elaborate on how your contributions improved your employer’s bottom line. This information is even more critical if you’re applying for something like a Project Manager role. In this case, hiring managers will want to see tangible business outcomes, and how you made a positive impact in your position.
If you only have limited experience of a particular technology or PM framework, you probably don’t want to list that that under your core skillset. Many candidates get tripped up during their interview, having listed something under their experience that they couldn’t confidently speak to. Instead, you’ll want to compile this information under a Certification and Projects section. A lot of hiring managers like to see this, as it shows initiative on the part of the candidate, and a willingness to learn new technologies. Including this information can also benefit you when working with a recruiter. Perhaps you have a certification that a particular client wants to see, and your recruiter can fast track you for an interview for that position. Additionally, if you have a GitHub, or have attended coding bootcamps, be sure to list that experience here too.
At the end of the day, a hiring manager is only going to look at your resume for a handful of minutes tops. If you’re putting together a tech resume, you need to provide a snapshot of who you are as a candidate quickly. Sometimes I receive resumes from candidates that are 10 pages or more, listing everything they’ve ever done and every technology they’ve worked with. That’s not going to fly. While there isn’t a magic number, I’d say the maximum length for your resume should be no more than five pages. Remember, you’re trying to sell yourself, not bore hiring manager with your work history.
Selecting the right professional references can be challenge. Supervisors and team leads are your best bet, while coworkers should be your backup plan. And please don’t put someone down you haven’t actually worked with before. Sometimes candidates will list a friend in the field they know professionally. These types of references will only hurt your candidacy in the long run, as they won’t truly be able to speak to your skills or you function within a team dynamic. When it comes to references you want to choose people that know your work ethic, and that can answer questions about your soft skills thoroughly.
These are a few general guardrails for you to follow when building your tech resume. Like I mentioned at the outset, an imperfect resume doesn’t disqualify you outright, particularly with the scarcity of IT professionals. But following these basic principles will yield you more success in the job market, especially if you’re working with a talented recruiter. With a strong resume in hand, you’ll land more interviews, and more exciting opportunities will open for you in your job search.
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