The objective of your resume is to get you an interview for the opportunity you seek. In this day and age getting an interview isn’t a very easy thing to do. First, you have lots of competition. Then Hiring Managers are pressed for time even before they begin the recruiting process. They have businesses to run. Of course they believe that people make the difference, but the truth is, they are not recruiters and they don’t have the time to learn. That’s why they partner with and rely on the talents of recruiters.
Even so, Hiring Managers must make a determination about whom to interview. Sure recruiters have some influence here if there is a strong, successful relationship, but nothing should ever be left to chance. You are always in charge of (your own destiny and) the way you present yourself. The objective of this document is to help you present yourself in the best possible way. Keep reading, we’re about to let you in on some great secrets.
Hiring Managers don’t spend much time looking at a resume.
The average Hiring Manager spends between 15-30 seconds per resume. At the end of that time, you are either put in the “no” or “go” pile. And once this decision is made, it’s hard to change it (let alone find your resume again). So why present so much paperwork if a Hiring Manager only takes 15-30 seconds to scan it over? The answer to this question is a simple one – the format of your resume makes all the difference in the world.
You must get as much relevant information about yourself and your aspirations on the first page as possible. Even as important as this information is, the way this information is formatted is critical. Without the right format, your information has no power. The format must be easy to read and flowing, giving the Hiring Manager a clear idea of what you are looking for, what your technical skills are, and what your most recent work experience has been.
If you are aspiring to find excellent opportunity in IT, we recommend that your resume have all of these critical sections.
- Technical Summary
- Work Experience
- Coursework or Training
Let’s take a look at each one of these sections individually.
One of the biggest mistakes even the most “fantastic candidates” make is failing to include an objective on their resumes. The most common answer to “why don’t you have an objective?” is the fear of “boxing themselves into one particular job”. This is not a good answer for anyone to hear. When we see resumes without a specific objective, we always ask why? No objective is the biggest indicator that the candidate is sending his resume to lots of places and might not be really focused.
A word about the length of your objective. Never go longer than two sentences. One sentence is great! Be direct and to the point. Make sure you focus on your aspirations and the opportunity at hand.
To our candidates, it’s known as “homework”. This is one of the most critical parts of your first page. A clear understanding of your technical expertise is needed on the first page, and it will become the beacon that Hiring Managers will constantly refer back to for information.
Never leave anything out of your Technical Summary. If you programmed in COBOL for the past 15 years, but you never want to see the language again, leaving this one word off will hurt you more than help you. Never direct your technical summary to what you want to do either. Instead, use it as an opportunity to show your breadth of technology and how you have kept pace. Look at it this way – you are taking all the acronyms and technical terms out of the text of your resume and putting them in a very readable Technical Summary section, just before you start your Work Experience section (which is where you apply this technology to your work experience). Bottom line is this works.
There are just too many examples that we could discuss here that show why a Technical Summary is an absolute must when looking for opportunity in IT. Here is one example that comes to mind that clearly identifies the need. One search we completed for a client was for a UNIX Systems Administrator. Only one candidate had all the credentials, experience and education, and eventually, with our help, got the opportunity he wanted. But initially, his resume didn’t mention the complete technical environment he had Systems Administration experience in, ever. The client company and two other recruiting firms passed this person up, putting him in the “no” pile. From his resume they assumed he wasn’t technically qualified and no one had the time to find out if he was.
Your technical summary should be broken into the following:
- Operating Systems
If you are pursuing a networking or telecommunications position, a “Protocol” section could also be appropriate.
Never deviate from these category names. Keep it simple. Never repeat the same technology twice. If you put Paradox under “databases,” Hiring Managers understand it has a programming language called PAL. So don’t put Paradox under languages, too. Use the bullets in your Work Experience section to spell out your use of a language, don’t do it in the Technical Summary section. Try to put your most recent technologies first.
Always list your employment history from your most recent position – all the way back to your very first relevant position. Don’t forget anything. You will be amazed at what you remember, and how your resume is growing with detail. For every new employer, make sure to include the name of the company, the city and state of its location, and your dates of employment there. If you haven’t worked for “years” at the same employers, you may want to use a month/year date format instead.
One of the critical mistakes made in the Work Experience section is to exclude growth within any one employer. Candidates list one title and put everything they did with this company there. Don’t do it to yourself. If you held three positions within the same company, list each position separately with its own set of bullets. Showing promotions and growth within one company goes a long way. Take advantage of this opportunity to show an important fiber within your professional career.
Under each one of your positions held are bullets identifying your responsibilities and achievements at this position. These bullets need to be short and to the point. The best way to develop accurate bullets for your resume is to think about an average week at work. Write down your duties and tasks. Then think about what you do in an average month. Write down these duties and tasks, also. What are your responsibilities? What have you achieved? Hiring Managers are very interested in what you are doing now. This is your opportunity to clearly define what you are doing and what you have done.
Don’t make your bullets general ones. There needs to be some definition. If one of your bullets says “design and development of internal desktop applications” you need to get more specific, maybe even add another bullet about the same subject. Are you managing these projects or is your involvement hands-on? Do you directly interface with the users or do you design from written specifications? Are you involved with new development or maintaining existing? How does your company work through these issues and what’s your role in them? What have you done/recommended to make the process better? Once again, be specific and to the point. Try to stay away from glorious adjectives and adverbs. You need to repeat this thought process for every position in your Work Experience section. It’s homework, but well worth it.
Your education and continuing education, in your field or not, can be an important element in your resume. If you are still working on a degree, be sure to include it. If you are working on another, or higher degree, be sure to include it. If you don’t have a degree, 9 times out of 10 it doesn’t matter – just don’t lie. If you don’t have a degree, never put your high school education down instead.
Coursework and Training
Make sure you list any relevant coursework or training you have completed. Vendor training is hot these days – make sure to list it with the name of the course, the dates you attended, and any certificate numbers that were assigned to you upon graduation. Training in teamwork, communications, problem resolution, process re-engineering, etc. is also very important. Don’t leave anything out.
If your resume is set up using the recommendations above, you will have an enormous amount of detail, with the most critical part of that information (Objective, Technical Summary, and the most recent one or two positions held) on the first page of your resume. This “first page” information will grasp any Hiring Manager’s attention, giving them a clear picture of who you are, what you can do, and what you want to do.
Remember, the objective of a resume is to get you an interview with the opportunity you seek. If you follow our recommendations above, not only will you rediscover your past professional experiences and the relevancy they play to the opportunity at hand, you will be putting yourself in a very auspicious position to reach your professional goals.