4 Tips for Crafting an Technical Resume that Pops
Let's face it, IT resumes are a different beast than a standard resume. You need to convey your technical expertise succinctly. The last thing you want is it turning into a drawn-out list of disparate skills seemingly out of context. That's a surefire way for your resume to end up in the rejected pile.
You also don't want your technical skills to overshadow your soft skills. Yeah, it can be a tough balance to strike.
We've put together some tips to help your technical resume cut through the clutter. Ready to dust off that resume and make it pop?
1. Use Keywords to Beat the Bots
Many organizations, especially larger ones, using HR screening software to identify candidates who meet basic requirements for positions — and weed out those who don't have the necessary skills and/or experience. So, there's a good chance before your resume ever lands on a hiring manager's desk that it'll have to get past the HR bots.
But guess what? There's a pretty simple way to get around them. Use keywords and phrases from job postings. For example, let's say you apply for a systems administrator position. The responsibilities section looks something like this"
"… Configure, install, and maintain IT systems and operating systems and software. This includes local/remote (Azure) file and print servers, plus all critical corporate application servers including E-mail system."
Provided that you've actually performed those duties, tailor your resume to include words like configure, IT systems, print servers. Don't be worried about ripping some of posting word for word.
Now that you've appeased the screening software, speak to humans who will receive your resume. Use clear and concise language while explaining your technical skills. Outcomes are really helpful for hiring managers. Rather than with "Configured, installed, and maintained IT systems," add some success figures. Potential options are uptime, user counts, or even duration:
Configured, installed, and maintained operating systems on 200 workstations
Configured, installed, and maintained desktop clients; cleared 600 tickets over 2 years
Configured and installed local/remote (Azure) file and print servers; 20% reduction in maintenance tickets
Combine job descriptions, skills, and outcomes to help your resume stand out to both the right tech and people.
2. Organize all Your Amazing Skills
We know it's tempting to list every single certification or skill you have on your resume. After all, you worked hard to build up your expertise and skill set. You should be proud of your achievements. At the same time, you don't want to make it hard for hiring managers to identify the specific skill set they need.
Cramming your resume chock-full of skills or technologies runs that risk. So, make sure you break out your skills in a way that's easy to read and understand. Remember, hiring managers have to skim through lots of resumes. Make the most important information stands out.
For example, try dividing your skills up into groups that align with different roles. Here's an example of how to list the different technologies you know that we liked. Again, this applies to a systems administrator resume.
CompTIA A+, Cisco CCNA Routing and Switching, Cisco CCNP Routing and Switching, Microsoft MCSA: Windows Server 2016
Microsoft Windows 7, Microsoft Windows 10, Active Directory, VMware
Java, ManageEngine OpManager, Zabbix, Advanced IP Scanner
See, how neat and organized that table is? And you have a lot of flexibility in regard to labeling and dividing out your knowledge and skills. Again, we recommend you tailor your resume to the job posting. Make sure your skills are broken into easily scannable sections — and that they align to the role you are applying for.
If your resume is not readable or missing the skills organizations need, you're likely out of the running, no matter your experience. Your resume will be good for hungry paper shredders, not your career aspirations.
3. Play up Your Areas of Expertise
There's a reason you can count something as an expertise. You developed and honed your skills to become an expert. As such, you need to put your areas of expertise up high and center. And good news, you don't have to use a fancy table, a simple list will do. Here's a quick example.
Areas of Expertise:
Network Design and Configuration LAN/WAN Networks
Disaster Recovery Planning System Backups & Restores
End-User Training & Support VPN Configuration
If you're struggling to define (or limit) your areas of expertise, try this approach. Think about your strengths and your current job role. What if you moved into a leadership role and were responsible for hiring your replacement. What skills would he/she need to possess? These are the areas of expertise you should highlight.
When you apply for a job, use this same approach when tailoring your resume to fit the job. You should never recycle cover letters. You should write a new one for every job application. We recommend applying the same thought to resumes.
A little extra effort can pay off big. It can be the difference between you landing an interview — and your resume going nowhere.
4. Work Projects into Resume Form
As an IT professional, you've likely led projects that helped organizations run more efficiently while reducing costs. Maybe you helped your current company successfully migrate to the cloud. You need to include this on your resume. Projects help hiring managers to get a sense of your skills in real-world situations.
Choose projects that have measurable results and proven outcomes. Every bullet point should have an outcome. That's especially true for work projects as long as they highlight the skills your potential future employer needs.
When describing projects, use demonstrative, powerful language. Use phrases such as "Instrumental in…" or "Led the effort to…" Likewise, when discussing projects results, use terms like "Resulted in…" and "Increased XX.."
Keep project descriptions brief, no more than three sentences — and keep them focused on tangible actions and results. Here's an example:
Designed and led the implementation of a new network for 500-employee company, resulting in annual savings of $75,000 and increasing network uptime by 25 percent.
You can also use projects on your resume to showcase your soft skills. For example, think about how you "coordinated with management and end users during a firewall upgrade" project. With one sentence you've demonstrated that you have experience communicating with different stakeholders.
When in doubt, focus on project experience that is relevant to the position you want. Keep your product descriptions brief, using tangible results and numbers to deliver a big punch.
The Bottom Line
In some ways, IT resumes aren't that much different than typical resumes. However, the IT field continues to grow and evolve. With all the different technologies out there, too, it's important to make sure your resume is up to snuff. Otherwise, you won't even get past the first step of the hiring process.
Make sure your resume focuses on the skills needed to perform the job you want. Detail your experiences that highlight both your technical acumen and your soft skills. Cut the fluff that doesn't align with the role you're seeking. Make it easy for the people making the decisions to identify your expertise and skills. And good luck!
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