||Houston IT Career Management Resources
Interviewing & Resignation - How to Write a "Winning" Resume
By James Del Monte, CPC, JDA Professional Services, Inc.
The Purpose of a Resume
Presenting your resume is the first step in the employment process. The purpose of a resume is to get an interview. The decision to select or reject you for an interview is almost always based solely upon the information presented in your resume. That means job seekers who get interviews are not necessarily the best qualified; they simply have the best resume.
You can expect your resume will arrive in the inbox of an employer along with hundreds of others. With that many resumes to review, your resume will probably be scanned in about 10 to 15 seconds. Unless your resume can be quickly and easily matched to the job description, it will most likely be discarded. Your goal is to make your qualifications look like a perfect match for the job so you will get that important interview. We recommend customizing your resume for every job that you apply for; that means you will ultimately have a version of your resume for every job you have applied for.
Components of an Effective IT Resume
Each resume should include all of your current contact information. Your name, address, phone numbers (home, work, and cell), and preferred email address should appear on the first few lines of your resume.
Your objective is a short, concise sentence of no more than ten words that shows the employer that you have a sense of direction. It also tells them whether or not that direction matches the position in question. Therefore your objective should be revised to suit each position. Be sure to state an explicit goal.
Remember, you are selling yourself with this document; so when you start expounding on your experience, don't just list responsibilities – list accomplishments. Although it is a good idea to list the functional and technical skills used at each job to show that you have the right skill set for the new position, it is also important that you demonstrate how you've used those skills to achieve goals in the past. Remember the old adage, "Don't just tell me, show me!" A good example of an accomplishment demonstrating a skill set would be, "Designed and developed a Visual Studio.Net purchase order system that increased sales by 30%." Keep it succinct by focusing on activities related to your objective. Again, this section should be revised to match each separate position.
To develop a good list of accomplishments, try answering these action/result-based questions:
If you have more than 25 years of work experience, you may list some of your work experience under the title "Prior Relevant Experience" without dates. If you have been employed at one company for your whole career, list each position separately to show your career progression. If you've had several contract jobs over a short period of time, combine similar jobs into a single entry on your resume.
- Did you increase sales or revenue? If so, by how much?
- Did you streamline operations that reduced expenses and saved money? How much money did you save the company?
- Did you receive any awards or recognition for outstanding work? What awards? Did you get a bonus or promotion?
- Did you solve a major problem for the company? What was the impact?
- Did you increase productivity, reduce employee turnover, and/or improve efficiency? By how much?
- What projects did you work on? Were they completed on-time and within budget? How did the projects impact the company’s bottom-line?
Your resume should include all educational credentials that relate to the new position. If you are a recent graduate, include your GPA. You should also include any licenses, technical certifications, and/or training you have received that relate to your objective such as PMP, MCSP, or MCSE. Again, this section may need to be revised based on the specific position.
List any trade groups that you belong to, being sure to emphasize any leadership positions you have held.
Technical Skills Summary
Since most resumes are scanned into databases, use bulleted lists of all the hardware and software with which you are familiar. Break the lists into sub-categories such as industry experience, project management skills, programming languages, web applications, databases, etc. Many employers do word searches to find qualified candidates from their databases. Having a technical summary section, in addition to the skill set lists associated with each job, will help employers quickly match your resume to the right jobs.
Tips to Maximize Your IT Resume
"It's better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one than to have one and not be prepared" - Whitney Young Jr.
You should update your resume any time you get a new job, a promotion, complete a major accomplishment, or receive additional responsibility. So many things happen at work that it's hard to keep up with all you do. Update your resume regularly instead of wasting time trying to recall what you did when you decide to look for another job. You owe it to yourself to be prepared at all times.
Use the Correct Formatting
Whenever possible, use a chronological format. Employers prefer it to a functional format. Functional resumes don't show where or how long you performed a particular job which could come across as though you're trying to cover up gaps in employment or a lack of experience. List your experience in a chronological format, but stay focused on the skills and accomplishments that match the position you are seeking. If you have gaps in your employment, include what you did during those gaps (attended graduate school, independent consultant, full-time parent, etc).
The only time you should use graphics or fancy, colored paper is if you are applying for a design job. Also, try to limit it to no more than three pages.
Leave out References, Salary and Irrelevant Information
Don't include references or salary information on your actual resume. You don't want to give this information until the employer requests it. Don't include hobbies, interests, or other irrelevant information. Only include information that specifically relates to the sought after position. Don't include membership in groups with an ethnic or religious affiliation, but you should include membership in trade associations and involvement in community organizations.
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Thoroughly review your resume for errors before you send it anywhere. Any error can cause you to look unprofessional and make an employer question your honesty. Make sure that you have dates for your work history. Pick a tense and stick with it throughout the resume. Check for typos, grammar, and spelling mistakes. Don't rely on spell check. Always get someone to look over your resume before you send it out.
Keep it Honest
Background-checks are now standard procedure for most companies. Make sure that everything listed on your resume can be verified including education, job titles, and employment dates. You should never lie, exaggerate, mislead, or embellish. If you get caught, it could tarnish your reputation and make it difficult to find a new position.
BONUS TIP – Very Important!
Make sure to submit a Word version of your resume, and try not to use any unusual formatting such as text boxes or unusual margins. These days most companies use computers to scan a resume, and if there is anything different about your resume, it may not be legible to the computer. In that case, your resume often gets tossed.
Following the above mentioned steps should give you a great start to writing a “winning” resume that earns you that all important interview. Remember: Your resume is a hiring manager’s very first impression of you, so it should be created using a lot of time, thought, and energy. It should also be highly reflective of the position you are applying for, so that the manager envisions you as a good fit for the job. Ultimately, this may mean that you have to revise your resume each time you apply for a new position, but if it means getting your dream job, it’s well worth the effort.