Building a resume for a job in fields such as technology, web, or computer science domains is different from creating one for marketing or finance. The structure may be similar, but the content itself must correspond to what the industry is looking for.
Understanding what happens to your resume once you send it off, as well as the elements that will be put under the microscope, will help you navigate the path towards a career in IT. In support of your professional success, here are some tips from our team on how to make your IT resume stand out!
who will be looking at your resume?
Depending on the experience level required, as well as the size of the company, your resume may undergo a multi-step selection process. Each professional taking a look atyour resume will be looking for something different!
- The human resources department (or “HR”) will mainly be looking for keywords. If the job posting requires a knowledge of Java, the person analyzing your resume will zone in on the word “Java.” If the term is only listed in your resume once, it will not hold as much value as it would with multiple mentions. Oftentimes, computer programs will be the ones scanning and sorting resumes according to the frequency of a keyword. If you are proficient in a certain programming language or a particular kind of technology, the appropriate terms need to be repeated throughout your resume. Be careful, though: redundancy is not the goal! Aim for 4-5 mentions of each important keyword.
- The manager or team leader will then take a look at the resumes that made it past the first round. Having more experience in IT, these people will have a deeper appreciation for your professional skills and will decide if your profile is a good fit for the position.
It's important that your technical skills and the programming languages you know are clearly indicated. It is also essential for the reader to understand your skills and competencies quickly!
IT professionals looking at your resume will want to know:
- Which technologies do you know best?
- What have you worked on most?
To outline these skills, add a “technology” section below your description. You should also mention each form of technology under your previous positions; listing them in this manner is very easy to understand.
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First, your resume should be simple, straight-forward, and structured in a way that's easy to understand. Those reading your resume are looking to find information fast – so help them make it happen! Even if you're not in a creative or artistic domain, recruiters enjoy receiving a document that clearly had some thought put into it.
The document should be pleasing to the eye with well-aligned sections. Choose one font to use throughout, put titles in the appropriate places, add bulleted lists, and use bold fonts sparingly to highlight key strengths.
If you’re not gifted in the design department (no shame in admitting it!) you have two options:
Purchase aresume template. Many websites offer resume templates, some of which are geared towards a particular job (ex. web developer, programmer, etc.). Using an outline can provide a well-thought-out structure for documenting your career progression, typically yielding a complete, content-rich resume.
Hire a graphic designer. This option requires a greater investment, but it will help you stand out even more. With a personalized resume, you have the freedom to completely customize its appearance and content structure. Be careful, though – form should not take precedence over function. You should also keep your colours in check: too much variety can be an eyesore!
In the IT industry, recruiters are not looking for a resume that could win a design contest. Above all, aim to create a clear, well-structured document.
choose the right amount of detail
As a rule of thumb, your resume should not be longer than 2 pages – keep it straight to the point! How can you achieve conciseness? By carefully choosing the points you want to emphasize. Conduct a thorough analysis to identify the key elements you need to make your resume shine.
If the job posting requires experience with specialized technology, discuss your achievements in that particular arena. If the job requires a versatile skill set in different development environments, list the programming languages and tools that you can work with. The list goes on.
It is important for you to understand how to trim less relevant experience in order to provide the right amount of detail. If you have over 15 years of experience and are not sure what to cut, check out our article on 7 things to ask yourself before updating your resume.
Don’t forget that your resume is meant to get you through the door for an interview, and not to tell your professional life story. If you feel that you haven't expanded enough on certain points, your LinkedIn profile and personal website are the perfect places to do so. That being said, it’s not the end of the world if your resume extends onto a third page.
tip: if you have lots of experience and need an exhaustive resume, make two versions: one short, one long. use each as the situation calls for.
a common mistake: listing tasks
When preparing a resume, people often reflexively list the tasks that they perform. While those points may be of interest to some degree, it is rare that the wording used in these types of sections will grab recruiters’ attention.
Here are some tasks that are frequently found on resumes for IT or web development:
- Analyze client needs
- Program interfaces
- Test websites
Do you think that the effect would be the same if these points were phrased more like…
- Question and understand client needs in order to carefully define the technological framework of each project.
- Develop interfaces based on working models with an eye towards ergonomics and web usability.
- Test and confirm that each active webpage works perfectly in multiple environments.
Before listing tasks robotically, think of the value you contribute and how your expertise can make a difference!
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go beyond technical skills
Some people put all the emphasis on their technical competencies, assuming that those elements will be the deciding factor in whether or not they get the job. Your know-how is certainly crucial to landing an interview, but there’s more to it! You need to showcase what you can bring to the company, and your personal qualities are part of that equation.
If you are naturally more humble and reserved, you almost certainly have a tendency to downplay your strengths and professional accomplishments. Singing your own praises would come off as bragging, right? To land your dream job, you will have to challenge that belief.
Be confident in your accomplishments and showcase them with enthusiasm!
See also: 12 phrases to delete from your resume
the devil is in the details!
The people evaluating your resume are not just looking at what’s on the page – they’re also searching for holes and gaps. If you don’t include months, you are opening yourself up to doubt (and that’s never what you want!).
- Writing “C++ programming summer internship” calls its duration into question. Did the placement last two weeks, or two months?
- Ending a job in 2015 and starting another in 2016 will immediately raise questions: how much time elapsed between the two positions?
Conclusion: always include months on your resume! And explain the time in-between jobs (travel, studies, etc.)
Our team is happy to share these pearls of wisdom with you in support of your success in IT. To take your IT resume to the next level, stay tuned for our next article: “Your career in IT: earn brownie points with these expert additions to your resume.”