When looking for new permanent job or contracting assignment, having a great resume has always been important. Given our current extremely competitive times, a high quality resume has moved from being important to being crucial.
The resume tips below have been divided into three main areas; Form and Function, Content, and General Thoughts. Truth be told, the reason for this categorization is because this is how I, as a hiring manager, review resumes.
- Do other people review resumes differently than I do? Yes.
- Is my way better or worse than how other people review resumes? No, it’s just one way.
- Would every hiring manager and/or job search consultant agree 100% with what I am about to say? No, I think they would agree with me on most of my comments, but may disagree with a few of my points.
- Would they be right to disagree with me? Yes, their thoughts are equally as valid as mine. In fact, this is what makes resume writing so difficult. Different people have different opinions and like different things. As a result, you get conflicting suggestions on what is best. Your goal is to listen to me and other experts and make an informed decision of which advice works best for you.
Regarding a resume’s form and function, consider the following:
- Make sure your resume is neat and well organized (shows organization and structure)
- Be sure everything is indented properly. (I’m a techie, I can’t help myself. I dislike source code that’s not properly indented and I guess I have extended that to resumes.)
- Use bullet points not lots of text. (I personally like bullet points because it’s easier and faster to read.)
Regarding a resume’s content, I suggest the following do’s and don’ts:
- Use the right keywords and technology names
- Use effective action-based titles
- Describe your technical achievements factually without boasting
- Describe the business value related to your technical accomplishments
- Explain the benefits of your specific skill set
- Back up your qualities and strengths with example accomplishments
- List your job responsibilities only if you are in senior management role
- Include non-professional accomplishments only if they are impressive and significant
- Don’t include obsolete technologies unless strategically placed
- Don’t include irrelevant information
- Don’t include technologies you don’t really know, it can raise questions regarding the technologies you really do know
- Don’t include “no kidding” information
- Don’t feel required to list all your work experiences
- Don’t leave unexplained time gaps in your work experience, potential employers will think the worst, or at least ask for clarification if they like you
Next, there are some general tips that may be of value to you:
- After you have proofread your resume give it two other people to review
- Avoid negativity, it only hurts you
- Customize your resume to best meet each potential job opportunity
- Honesty is the best policy, false truths on your resume can destroy your professional reputation
- Don’t use slang words or expressions, the people reading it may not understand your meaning
- Your personal and professional social media profiles should be consistent with your resume content
In closing, even if you have great contacts and a great job, I suggest you keep your resume updated for two reasons. The first reason is if that once-in-a-life-time job shows up at your doorstep you will be ready to apply. A second and less obvious reason is that there is something about updating your resume that makes you sit back and think about your career at a macro level. This occasional introspection about your career goals and direction can help assure that you stay pointed in right direction toward your ultimate objectives.
If you have any questions about your career in IT, please email me at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or find me on Twitter at @EricPBloom.
Until next time, work hard, work smart, and continue to grow.
Read more of Eric Bloom's Your IT Career blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Eric on Twitter at @EricPBloom. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.