You’re finally ready to make your big debut in the world of technology. You have the degree, the technical skills and some hands-on experience. Now you’re ready to land your dream job.
But it’s not always as easy as it sounds. Have you ever sent out a resume only to feel like it ends up in some internet black hole and you’ll never get the chance to prove your worth in person?Well you’re not alone. That’s why we enlisted tech recruiters, employers and professionals to get their take on what makes a tech resume stand out. Keep reading for tips on how to bolster your tech resume to make sure it ends up on the top of the pile.
11 Ways to make your tech resume stand out
1. Highlight relevant certifications
“For IT professionals' resumes, often the most important components are the certifications relevant to the role,” says David Collins, recruiting manager at Addison Group, a leading staffing services firm. He adds that this indicates to the employer that you’ve gone the extra mile to gain additional skills and expertise in the field.
There is a wide array of IT certifications available depending on your career goals. Check out this article to learn about some of the best options for entry-level candidates.
2. Keep it simple
“Don't go crazy with formatting, colors or graphics,” says Jim Conti, director of talent at Sprout Social. “Keep your resume simple, easy to read and professional.”
It’s tempting to want to show off your skills by creating a creative resume, but try not to go overboard. You might think this will make you stand out, but it might actually serve as a distraction.
3. Include some personal projects
“Your side projects can give potential employers a sense of your personality and ability to take initiative,” Conti says. Showcasing a bit of your personal life through these projects can also help an employer get a better idea of your creative ability, interests and strengths.
4. Be concise
It might be tempting to list every job, software and technique you’ve ever used, but the reality nobody is going to take the time to leaf through an eight-page resume – no matter how impressive it may be. You should be selective about what you include on your resume, according to Haley Sabel, account manager at TEKsystems, the nation’s largest IT staffing firm.
“It’s not necessary to list every employment engagement over the last 25 years,” Sabel says. “A lot of times the technology is so outdated that it is not even worth mentioning.”
5. Use job description keywords
Take a second look at the job description for which you’re applying and note some of the key words or phrases included. Incorporating those same keywords in your resume will catch the eye of the hiring manager, according to Kashif Aftab, CEO and cofounder of SkillGigs. He even suggests bolding those words to make them jump from the page.
“When a recruiter is reviewing your resume, their eyes will naturally wander to the bold words or phrases in a big block of text,” Aftab says.
6. Focus on results, not duties
“The biggest resume turnoff is when a candidate lists all of their previous job responsibilities and fails to include their accomplishments,” Collins says.
Instead of spouting off the daily duties of your position, highlight the tangible impact you had on the company, such as a new process you developed or how much money you helped save during a project.
7. Be specific about the outcomes
Speaking of results, don’t skip the details. “Practice being precise by listing the exact project you worked on or the distinct outcomes of a major campaign your team executed,” Aftab says.
The more specific you are, the clearer picture you can paint for prospective employers. Be sure to describe the technical tools used or any managerial responsibilities involved.
8. Be precise concerning your program experience
“Technology stacks are so diverse these days that it is important to outline exactly what you have experience with,” Sabel says. “Windows XP, 7, and 10? List them all! Working with Unix/Linux? What flavor?”
Equally important is a description of how you used the technology. This can help display that you’re not only familiar with the programs, but have mastered them.
9. Include open-source contributions
If you’re looking to be a software developer someday, this tip is for you.
“It is very important, I believe, to be an open source contributor, or at least a member of some open source community,” says Yegor Bugayenko, founder and chief technology officer of Teamed. “Someone without such an activity can't be called a modern software engineer.”
10. Include a skills box
“A major attraction on IT resumes is a ‘skills box’ at the top of a resume,” Sabel says. “This box outlines all tools and technologies the individual is versed in.”
Use this box like a map key. Sabel suggests assigning a number or symbol to each skill and using that same number or symbol to represent the skills you used in each position. This can help you be clear while avoiding unnecessary repetition.
11. Focus on the facts
It can be tempting to use words like very, experienced and advanced when describing yourself and your accomplishments, but just about any resume could include those same descriptors.
“When describing your experience, use numbers, percentages and facts,” Conti says. “Make it clear to the person reading your resume what you have done … and what the impact was.”
Make an entrance
Use these resume tips from our technology and recruiting experts to make your resume stand out among the pack. If you’re looking for additional tips for landing your first IT job, you'll want to check out our article, "IT Career Advice: Tech Pros Reveal Secrets to Making a Grand Entrance into the Industry."