Writing a strong technical resume is a true art form. How do we engage our audience to read past the first three lines of each paragraph to hear what we truly have to say? What keeps a potential employer from reading further?
In a 2012 study by TheLadders.com, they concluded that “recruiters only spend 6 seconds reviewing an individual resume.” The image on the left depicts the outcome of the test conducted by TheLadders.com. The heavily highlighted spots indicate what areas their eyes were drawn to. While you have a small amount of time to make a big impression, it’s not impossible.
The best IT resume needs to target a unique cross-section of hiring professionals. It could land on the desk of an HR Manager, technical manager, C-level executive, or a technical recruiter. Every IT resume needs to make a cogent point to each audience without making the document inaccessible to any single group. To reach that sweet spot and compel companies to seek you out, you need to use a healthy blend of strategies as you customize your IT resume.
Be highly searchable
Most IT consultants are found on job boards through querying databases and Boolean search methodologies. Search engines, job boards, applicant tracking systems (ATS), and LinkedIn all operate off the principle that resumes with optimized keywords represent the most appropriate IT consultant. If you are a talented Java Developer with only scant mention of this technology throughout your resume, you will be relegated to the back of the queue.
The first step involves adding ample amounts of technical keywords to be strategically dispersed throughout your resume.
- Work History – Listing relevant technical skills under each employer illustrates to human readers and applicant tracking systems a progression of your true technical capabilities.
- Technical Skills Profile – Include a technical profile at the top of your resume. In addition to adding keywords, it creates a larger narrative for HR and recruiters. Your languages, software, platforms, databases, QA tools, methodologies, and other technologies depict your greater capabilities.
Searchability is not limited to dense keyword usage. All hiring professionals need to be able to quickly see your relevant experience. Formatting can achieve easier readability.
- Bold critical keywords to naturally draw reader’s eyes.
- Start every job description with the most relevant technical information.
- Include a technical skills profile with technology that you have utilized throughout your career.
- Exclude all graphics, lines and charts on your resume so they can be easily loaded into an applicant tracking systems (ATS).
By combining these strategies, you can customize your IT resume in a way that is easy for any audience to read and parse.
Strong keyword usage in an IT resume provides value to an ATS, but HR personnel, low level technical recruiters, and high level technical recruiters require unique tactics of persuasion. The burden of a good IT resume is to speak with both audiences without alienating either. A blend of technical and functional language achieves that goal.
Make sure you indicate if you were doing design, development, programming, enhancements, modifications, testing, or administration. Big picture outcomes are equally effective.
You should refrain from overloading your resume with every technology you’ve ever used. Too many technical keywords on an IT resume can be an eye jam and it usually signals to employers that you have been padding your resume. Stick to your main competencies and the technologies that were applicable to each job. If you were exposed to a technology but never really worked with it, no need to add it on your resume.
Creating a resume that is optimized for Boolean search but also speaks effectively to a recruiter, hiring manager or C-level executive is no easy feat. It will take time to develop the right mix of both. But in the end, you’ll be able to effectively grab the attention of each and be well on your way to your next role.
Looking for more ways to gain employers’ attention? Our highly experienced technical recruiters can help you find and obtain employment with businesses that will value your skills. Apply to one of Resource 1’s open jobs.