Resume Development

IT Resume Quick Tips


There’s no perfect way to write a resume, which makes resume writing one of the most frustrating aspects of job searching.  Chances are, 100 different resume experts will give 100 different resume suggestions.  The following IT resume quick tips have been gathered from a myriad of verified sources, including IT recruiters, HR and workforce development professionals, and IT managers in hopes of making a client’s job search just a little bit easier.

Many of the following IT resume tips coincide with the IT Resume Template we’ve provided.  Please download the template and follow along.

**Keep checking back for updates on the Burning Glass tool for counselors and case managers!  This tool will assist workforce professionals in preparing their clients for their job search.**

Resume Layout & Sections


Contact Info Tips:

  • The client’s e-mail address should be professional.  A reliable format is firstname.lastname@gmail.com.
  • Domains such as Hotmail and AOL are outdated.  If a client wants to be technically relevant, he or she should stick with Gmail. 
  • Addresses aren’t necessarily required anymore.  In some cases, a client can hurt their chances by putting their address on their resume.  If a client lives very close to the employer, then having their address on the resume is fine.  Otherwise, it might be smarter for them to remove it.
  • It’s a good idea for a client to include their customized LinkedIn URL in the contact info.

Professional Title Tips:

  • If recruiters or HR reps are looking at a client’s resume for a total of 6 seconds, it’s important that they understand exactly what kind of professional the client is as soon as possible.  Adding a professional title in clear, legible font under the contact info helps the reader immeasurably. 

Summary and Summary Bullets Tips:

  • No more objective statements! 
    • After the financial crisis, companies became very uninterested in what job seekers want.  They’re more interested in how the job seeker can help the company, hence, summary statements are preferred to objective statements.
  • How long should a summary be?
    • A summary shouldn’t be very long.  2-3 lines of information should do the trick.  If it’s much longer, consider breaking it into bullet points.  This is prime real estate on a resume, and a client might bore a potential employer by having a long winded summary.  Remember, clients only have a ½ page to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Use keywords, not empty buzzwords.
    • See the keywords section under “Applicant Tracking Systems” for more information.
  • Does the client even need a summary?
    • Not necessarily.  It’s usually a good idea for a client to quickly summarize his or her experience and abilities, especially as they relate to the particular position they’re applying for, but it’s by no means a requirement.
  • Click here for additional information regarding resume summaries.

Skills and Abilities Tips:

  • This is a quick bulleted list of keywords used to help get a resume past Applicant Tracking Systems.  For more information, refer to the “Applicant Tracking Systems” section.

Technical Skills Tips:

  • E.g., Microsoft Word 2013, Windows Server 2008, TCP/IP, C++ Visual Basic.  Please refer to the IT resume template to see an example of how to list these.

Work Experience Tips:

  • Modern resumes often have a short description of the company underneath the company’s name.  This should be no longer than one line long.  If it’s a large, well-known company like AT&T, this description is unnecessary. 
  • Many recruiters like to see Job Duties AND Key Contributions on a resume, and it’s a good idea to separate these sections under the employer’s name.
  • Job duties are the things a client did on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis, and key contributions are the things a client did to go above and beyond what was called of them. 
  • There should be no less than 3 bullet points per section, and no more than 7. Click here to read more​ about resume bullets.

Education Tips:

  • If the client’s degree is recent (from the last 5 years), the experience section can be moved higher on the resume above Work Experience.
  • If the client’s degree is from 10+ years ago, the date can be removed, and the Education should remain at the bottom of the resume.

Additional Layout Tips:

  • The 1st half of the 1st page of a resume is the most important.  The client shouldn’t hide one of their “greatest hits” on the 2nd or 3rd page.  If recruiters truly only look at a resume for an average of 6 seconds, then a client’s best assets should be front and center.
  • Listing references, or saying “references available upon request”, is unnecessary in modern resumes.  References should only be included when specifically asked for, and they should be on a separate page.
  • Fancy lines, graphics, and tables might hurt a client’s chances at getting the job.
  • Recruiters and hiring managers vastly prefer chronological resumes rather than functional resumes.

Resume Length


A good rule of thumb for resume length is to add 1 page for every 10 years of experience. 

  • 0-10 years = 1 page. 
  • 10-20 years = 2 pages. 
  • 20-30+ years = 3 pages. 

However, if a client worked one job for 30 years, 3 pages aren’t entirely necessary. Click here for additional information on resume length.

Resumes (and especially IT resumes) shouldn’t go back much farther than 10-15 years.  Most IT recruiters will skip anything more than 10-15 years back due to its perceived irrelevance. Click here for additional information on how far back to go on a resume.

Proofreading


Many clients forget to proofread, which gets them into trouble.  Just one mistake on a resume can nix a client’s chances at getting a job.  Clients may need to be reminding to proofread multiple times for each resume they create.  It’s also a good idea to get a second set of eyes to review the resume as well.

One quick way to proofread is to read each sentence on the resume backwards.  This forces the brain to assess each word individually, and hones in on spelling errors.

Applicant Tracking System


When a client applies for a job online, they’re really submitting their resume to a recruiting software called an Applicant Tracking System.  This software is built to sift through thousands of resumes for specific keywords.  The resumes that match enough keywords will make it through the screening process, and the other resumes will get rejected.  These systems have many flaws, and knowing how to get past them is almost like a game. 

In the world of IT, Applicant Tracking Systems become especially important due to recruiters’ reliance on bringing in applicants with a variety of certifications and technical proficiencies.  This increases the pool of keywords to choose from, and makes the application process that much more difficult. 

Networking is one of the most reliable ways to get a resume past an Applicant Tracking System.  If a client knows someone at a company they’re applying to, they should speak to that person before applying online to see if there’s a shortcut to getting their resume to a hiring manager.

Fancy lines, graphics, and tables can sometimes trip up older applicant tracking software, so clients should be wary of using such tactics (unless, of course, they’re applying for graphic designer positions).

If a client frequently mentions their frustration with not hearing anything back from job applications that they qualify for, the problem is most likely an Applicant Tracking System issue.  This client would probably benefit from a resume overhaul.

Click here for a quick overview of Applicant Tracking Systems.

Click here for suggestions on mastering an Applicant Tracking System in the world of IT.

Keywords

One of the most important parts of job searching with a client will be matching the keywords on their resume with the keywords in the job lead they’re applying for.  Without matching keywords, a client will have a difficult time getting past the applicant tracking systems.  Stress to your client the importance of tailoring their resume every time they apply somewhere.

Keyword spamming

Keyword spamming happens when a client fills their resume with so many repetitive keywords that the resume becomes illegible.  A keyword spammed resume might get past an applicant tracking system, but when a recruiter or HR representative eventually reads the resume, it will get thrown away.  Recruiters and HR reps know when a resume is being artificially spammed full of keywords, and your client needs to be aware.
A typical example of keyword spamming happens when a client copies the job lead text and pastes it into the bottom of their resume using small, white font.  Their rationale is that they’re including all the necessary keywords into their resume, guaranteeing that it’ll make it past the ATS.  However, modern software prevents such tactics, and this technique will only serve to disqualify a candidate.

If a client is struggling to find the right keywords, here are a few places to start:

  • O*Net
    • Clients can search for their profession on O*Net to get a really solid idea of what types of keywords their particular profession uses the most.  
      For more information, see the section on O*Net under IT Employability => Transferrable Skills.
  • Wordle and Tagcrowd
    • Both Wordle and Tagcrowd create word bubbles based on the frequency and uniqueness of words in a paragraph.  A client can copy all the text from a job lead, paste it into Wordle or Tagcrowd, and get a quick visualization of what keywords stick out.  Once they do this with 10 or 20 job leads, they’ll start to get a very solid understanding of the typical keywords in their field.
  • Job leads
    • The best and simplest way for a client to find relevant keywords is for them to thoroughly read the job lead they’re applying to.  Hopefully, they’ll have a good number of skills and abilities the job lead is asking for.  Those skills and abilities are the keywords they should highlight.  Again, if they do this with 10 or 20 job leads, they’ll have a good idea of what keywords to use.

Client Honesty


In their frustration with their job search, a small amount of clients might feel the need to bend the truth beyond credibility on their resume.  This is especially common after desperate clients learn about keywords and applicant tracking systems.  Lying and overly aggressive truth-bending often backfire, and should be discouraged.

For further reading, here’s a good article about lying on resumes.