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. To get the interview you need to show specialized skills that go beyond the basics. Virtualization, Clustering and many other specialized skill subsets are what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for. So, make it easy for them to find your resume and understand your skills by following some basic resume guidelines.
Never make your resume one page unless you're a recent graduate or have less than two 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!
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.
Don’t make recruiters read your entire resume to figure out what you really do. So make it easy and title yourself. Put the title at the top of the resume, underneath your personal information and 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.
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 if 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.
The first thing 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. Then work backwards chronologically through previous positions
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.
Please keep these ideas in mind when writing all sections of your resume.
- The pronoun I has no place in a resume — and for a logical reason: Who else would you be talking about if not yourself? By the same token, do not refer to yourself by name.
- Spell Check and Proof Read. Then do it again. If at all possible, get someone else to proof read it for you. Silly grammatical errors make recruiters wonder how meticulous you would be on the job.
- Resumes call for short, crisp statements. These statements do not necessarily have to be complete sentences; you can frequently leave out the articles a, an, and the.
- Use Bullet Points wherever possible. These make your resume much more readable.
- Use plain English. Don't be victimized by the myth that the bigger the word you use, the more impressed the reader will be with your intelligence. Keep things simple.
- Put the most important information first. This point is valid both to the overall order of your resume, as well as to the individual sections.
- Do not include "no kidding" information. There are many people that like to include statements like "Available for interview" or "References available upon request." These are unnecessary.
- No Pictures.