Resume writing and career advice
job search tips/workplace trends
Featuring career experts, recruiters, hiring managers and decision makers who help you get hired
Kathy Northamer, District President of Robert Half Technology (rht.com), recently took some time talk about a hot topic in her industry: Resumes. Northamer, who oversees operations in Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison was asked:
What is different about IT resumes compared to other industry resumes?
“In information technology, employers are most interested in what you’ve done recently,” said Northamer. “While most resumes span your entire career, IT resumes should really focus on what you’ve accomplished in the past five years. Technology changes so quickly that oftentimes what you did more than five years ago simply doesn’t apply to what employers are looking for today. Another distinction is that IT resumes include a lot of details on specific skills and responsibilities in each position.”
With that in mind, here is a look at what you need to know to compile the ultimate IT resume:
What do employers look for in IT resumes? What things help the candidate stand out?
· Technical skills: Clear and concise examples of projects that utilize the specific skills they’re looking for. They want to know the details of what YOU did – not what “we” or “the team” did – but your role and the impact on the project. The more details you can provide on the technologies used in each role will help you make the best first impression on a hiring manager.
· Return On Investment (ROI): Businesses employ IT professionals to make the business more efficient or accomplish tasks in a lesser amount of time. Emphasize your accomplishments and contributions using tangible figures.
· Job stability and progression of responsibility.
· Extracurricular activities: Some employers want to see how passionate you are about IT during your downtime. They look for things such as writing white papers, securing patents and “playing around” with emerging technologies.
· Tailor your resume: It’s important to mirror and match your experience to the job details. Also consider the type of company when modifying your resume (large corporation, start-up, software development company, etc.).
What skills and technologies are hot right now and in-demand?
· Object-oriented development skills, such as .Net, PHP, Java or mobile development
· Microsoft SQL Server database skills
· Virtualization skills (VMWare)
· Experience with other Microsoft technologies
· Agile/SCRUM skills
· Communication skills: It’s important to show that you have the ability to communicate with everyone in the company, not just other tech professionals, and can elicit details from management about what they’re trying to accomplish with a particular enhancement or new application.
What can help a job seeker show a company they’re the right candidate for the job?
· We’re seeing demand for candidates with a broad skill set (supporting users, as well as managing systems and networks).
· Specific examples of projects and hands-on experience.
· Mirroring and matching the skills on their resume to the job description.
A. Do you like to see an objective/summary statement at the top, or a value statement?
It’s fine to include a very brief, one- or two-sentence summary statement at the top. Avoid using the word objective – that’s outdated. If you don’t have space for a summary statement, however, it’s not essential.
B. Do you like a bulleted list of skills at the top? Why or why not?
Yes, a bulleted list of skills (just below the summary statement) provides a quick overview of technical capabilities. This can be very helpful for busy hiring managers. Also, only list current technologies, and not every technology tool the candidate has ever used.
C. Do you like to see a bulleted profile of top skills or achievements, listing select achievements, or do you prefer those achievements tied to the job they did that at?
Accomplishments should be detailed under each position, so it’s easy for the employer to see what the candidate has achieved at each stage of his/her career. List each position in reverse chronological order, and include detailed bullets under each highlighting skills, successes and your impact on the company.
D. IT resumes are different than say, a sales professional, who can use numbers and sales results to stand out. How does an IT person, who doesn’t rely on numbers, standout, what do recruiters want to see in the resume to “prove” their worth?
An IT candidate should focus on ways they used technology to help the business. This can include things such as:
· Developing a process that helped make the user experience better.
· Automating a process that helped speed up turnaround time.
· Helping the company save money.
In addition, IT candidates should provide tangible information that gives the hiring manager an idea of the scale of the job (budget managed; number of people managed; number of sites supported; number of lines of code; number of fields in a database; number of servers, workstations, end users, applications supported; number of applications launched; number of errors/defects reduced; release cycle timeline; etc.).
What should be avoided on IT resumes?
· IT professionals should spend the majority of their resume focusing on their two most recent positions. For jobs held prior to that, a line or two detailing your experience is sufficient. Again, typically only the last five years of a candidate’s experience is relevant.
· If you’ve had a long career in IT, avoid statements such as “25 years of IT experience.” It’s well-intentioned, but in IT, it’s all about what you know now.
· Avoid being too verbose. Concise, bulleted statements are preferred over paragraphs.
· Slang and spelling/grammatical errors! Remember, your resume is the first impression you make with a prospective employer.
· Avoid first person references and always use the correct tense throughout your resume (i.e. past role = past tense, present role = present tense).
Unique IT resume tips: What other unique tips, thoughts, tips do you have that aren't covered above?
· Proofread, proofread, proofread – the more eyes the better! The last thing you want is for your credibility (or chances for the job) to be diminished because you have a careless typo on your resume. Ask a professional or someone with strong editing skills and an eye for detail to proof your resume.
· When formatting your resume, be consistent to a fault. For example, if you bold the company name for one role, do so for each company listed.
· Your resume should be a truthful representation of your current situation, skills and experience. For example, if your resume says you are pursuing a degree in IT, you should be enrolled in a program.
· Use a professional, but slightly edgy font if you’re applying for a job with a more progressive company.
· Review your resume from a hiring manager’s point of view. Would you hire you?
Are you an IT professional who needs a new resume? Contact Matt Krumrie through this form or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About Matt Krumrie
In addition to writing resumes and cover letters, Krumrie has published over 2,000 career and job search articles for the Star Tribune, Flexjobs.com, Ziprecruiter.com and more.