So, you have a year or two of experience in your first IT job, and are re-doing your resume for the first time? Here are a few thoughts that might help.
You were probably told to have a rock-solid Objective statement clearly spelling out what you are looking for in your Next Great Job. To be brutally honest; the Hiring Manager doesn’t care. It’s not that they aren’t human, they simply don’t have time to care about YOUR objectives. They are already swamped, and now they need to spend days on a new hire search in addition to their already over-booked schedule. Save that precious Resume Real Estate and remove your Objective Statement.
Your resume might list references, or at minimum say “References available upon request”. Duh. Of course they are. When the Hiring Manager wants them, he or she will ask. Again, use your Resume Real Estate to tell more about you.
In the dark ages of IT, the resume mantra was “One page max, nobody looks at the second page anyway”. No longer true. With countless languages, libraries, frameworks, databases, web, mobile, IoT, cloud, and certifications, the Single Page Argument no longer holds water. You have a story to tell, and likely a lot of information to share. One page probably won’t be enough. However, think long and hard before letting your resume grow to three pages.
Tables, charts, graphs
Unless you are a UX researcher or a designer and your need to display your design skills, don’t use tables, charts, and graphs. Go ahead and use the logo for that hard-earned certification, but no more than that. You know that company you dream of landing a plum position with? Very likely they use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) that pulls in your resume, parses out key words, then sorts, scores, filters, and files your resume. Guess what happens to those oh-so-sweet designs? Nothing. Many systems don’t deal well with them, so your hard work is wasted. You are better off to invest that energy crafting your story.
Think like a Hiring Manager
This is the kicker that will separate your resume from the other 95% and make the Hiring Manager think, “Here’s someone I NEED to talk to”. You think they want to hire someone, right? Wrong! The last thing they need is more headcount, more expense, another person to manage, an unknown joining their team. No, what they NEED is a solution to their problem. The problem might be not enough staff to complete the project on time, perhaps a missing skill set, or replacing someone who doesn’t fit. The job of your resume is to explain clearly how YOU are the solution.
Your resume lists a series of tasks and responsibilities, right? Congratulations! Guess what? You and the other hundred applicants “successfully completed similar tasks”. To grab the Hiring Manager’s imagination, take it one step further. Explain the task or responsibility, followed by the benefit to the company. You don’t buy a coffee maker just to own a coffee maker, do you? No, you want a good cup of coffee! You might write something like this: “Performed application tuning, which reduced application response time between 55% and 65%.” If you have actual numbers, use them. If the benefit is subjective, writing “significant improvement” or “substantial” is fine. Task and Benefit creates a picture in the Hiring Manager’s mind that you solve problems, and YOU just might be to solution to their problem.
Proof, proof, and proof again
In Real Estate, three critical things to look for are location, location and location. Before sending your resume to a Hiring Manager; Proof, proof, and proof again! Then have someone else proof it for you. Check your spelling. Do you have “exeptional written and verbil comunication skills”? Better spell that correctly. “Detailed Orientated” obviously isn’t. And no, plural’s do NOT get apostrophe’s. Consistent punctuation, please. If you use a period after one bullet, use periods after every bullet – always or never. Still using Comic Sans? STOP IT! Using multiple font styles, sizes, bolded/underlined/italic key words? Just. Don’t. Do. It. Bold your name, section headings, company names and position titles – sure thing. And just in case you missed it: Proof, Proof, and Proof again!
With a well-crafted resume that tells your story and clearly shows that YOU can be the solution to the Hiring Manager’s problem, you’ve got a great shot at getting a call asking, “When can you meet with me?” – the rest is up to you!
These are some of my humble (and extremely accurate) opinions formed while reviewing perhaps thousands of resumes over the past several years. If you find them helpful, feel free to share with your connections.
Cheers, and good luck finding your Next Great Job!