Being an awesome IT job candidate is only half the battle. You can’t just possess the skills (even though that’s a great start!) — you have to be able to communicate the talents and experience that you have to an employer. Without this aspect, other applicants can leave you in the dust. So how do you rise above the pack? Your resume is the perfect place to start, and crafting a great one can start you off on the right track. Here are some components your IT resume should always include:
List of skills and qualifications
This may seem pretty basic, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. Having the right skill set is the foundation for being able to complete your potential job’s tasks, so don’t leave the employer questioning what you’re capable of.
A CIO article recommends that you cluster your areas of expertise so that they’re easily referenced and more organized. For example, put all of the programming languages you know under one subheading, all of the operating systems you know in another, etc.
Detailed descriptions of accomplishments
Both ZDNet and TechRepublic have articles that discuss how simply listing your previous job responsibilities isn’t going to cut it. A lot of people make this mistake, but what employers want to see is how your past work positively impacted the company and increased performance and proficiency.
To give real substance to your “experience” section and set yourself apart, include the responsibilities you had then take it a step further and describe the results. Give numerical results whenever possible, as this gives your claim more credibility and makes it easier to identify. So if some action you took increased productivity by 50%, make sure to throw that in there.
Defining traits at the top of the page
The same CIO article listed above includes additional advice from David F. Noble (the author of Gallery of Best Resumes) about how the location of your most important information can make a huge difference for first impressions. He references professional resume writer Susan Whitcomb’s description of the resume “hot spot” — the section starting about 2 5/8 inches down from the top of the page to about 4 5/8 inches down from that spot.
This is probably a great location for your most definition qualities because it’s likely to be one of the first things to catch an employer or HR department’s eye. If you have an especially good accomplishment or quality, try including it in this area to stand apart from other candidates.
The number of pages you need
Unfortunately, not all resume rules are cut-and-dry. There’s been a lot of debate about how long IT resumes should be. However, a general rule to go by is that it shouldn’t be longer than 4 pages. If you’re sitting there thinking, “Of course it shouldn’t be that long,” you’re probably right, but some would argue that a 4-page resume is thorough and worth having, especially if applying for an executive position.
However, it’s also important to take into account that fact HR professionals might be looking at your resume first, and one that seems excessively long might send your resume to the garbage. General tips to follow are that you shouldn’t include any skills or experience that would be considered obsolete in today’s IT world, and don’t ramble on just to look like your resume is longer.
An online component
It’s important to have an online presence no matter what job you’re applying for. Senior Vice President of Strategic Sales and Delivery for Modis Bobby Knight talked to Chris Pirillo about how personal branding is important for IT applicants, and this can be achieved through many different websites.
To have good personal branding, make sure your social sites are all professional and appropriate. Get a step ahead by creating online resumes or websites to make yourself stand out when potential employers search your name. One way Knight suggested maintaining your personal brand was to keep updating your LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have one, go make an account to take advantage of its resume display and networking opportunities.
There’s a lot you can do to make-over your resume and make an even stronger first impression with companies you’re interested in working for. Remember to highlight your best accomplishments, your skill set, and your ability to maintain a great, updated personal brand. Keep your resume interesting, but don’t go too overboard — flashy resumes are distracting. Keep it simple, professional, and straightforward!