Resume: a written exaggeration of only the good things a person has done in the past, as well as a wish list of the qualities a person would like to have.
Putting together a good technical resume takes time and experimentation. There are many myths about putting together a resume. For some reason, I find a lot of technical people late to the party. They are using old templates and poor recommendations. Working in technology for over fifteen years I have come across some resumes that were a real doozy.
Make it Concise
One myth that seems to be still alive is that the longer the resume the better. I once saw a person with under two years of experience that had a resume over three pages long. No, they had not won a Nobel Peace prize. This is way too long.
Shakespeare famously wrote, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” I bet you thought you wouldn’t see him quoted regarding technical resumes… Keep them short and to the point. Hiring managers are going to quickly scan a resume and decide whether to call you. Typically you have under ten seconds and they will send it most likely to the recycle bin.
It should go without saying to proofread your resume. I am amazed at the numerous resumes I read that could benefit from a quick review and even some spell check errors. There are too many tools out there to help you check your grammar like Grammarly, so use them!
Don’t list duties
A resume is a place to list your accomplishments. This often confused with your job duties. Don’t take your job description and just add that to your resume in bullet points. Focus on tangible results that achieved in your time working at that company.
“Programmed in C#” is a duty, where “Developed report system to reduce cost 10 percent and increased responsiveness 28 percent” is an accomplishment. Take some time now to remove any duties from your resume and add only accomplishments. If in doubt leave it out!
It’s not artwork
There are numerous services online that will create intricately designed resumes. There are a few problems with these the first is a human problem. They might look like some artwork but, you can’t scan them quickly which usually makes them end up in the trash.
Pick a simple structure for your resume and stick with it. Don’t try to be eclectic and mix and match styles. Lay things out so that a recruiter or a hiring manager can quickly review them. Show it to a few people and get their feedback. Clarity is key to any design.
Another problem with designed resumes is they are misread by application tracking systems or ATSs. Marcy Travis a career coach and resume expert said, “The job search and interview process has changed dramatically in the last five years. In an effort to process applicants more efficiently, Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) software is used by most companies to handle job seeker’s resumes. As it turns out, this system has been both a benefit and a hindrance for companies and job seekers.”
Show us your Skills
Creating a technical resume can be a bit of a balancing act. You want to share your skills that you are competent in, but not ones you are weak or know little about. Reviewing many resumes and screening candidates I have come to the conclusion not all but, many people will list skills they know little about.
“It’s like the candidate took all the hot skills and wrote them into their resume.” One recruiter exclaimed to me. Even though they were not technical they even knew there was a bit of “window dressing” done to the resume. Like a shopkeeper during the holiday season, some job seekers will spruce things up with the latest skill hoping to get an interview.
I suggest people list all the skills and technologies they have used in the past. Then go through them rating themselves on each one from 1 to 10, where 10 is expert level. If you are 5 or under in anything don’t list it. This helps keep the resume short and to the point as well as eliminates any fluff!
“I was responsible for a Java based system.” Is too vague and general, lines like this will send you right to the trash can. Always try to show action in each line. “Developed a .Net reporting system for Accounts Receivable.” This is a step in the right direction. Using action words like “administered” and “resolved” help convey the results you achieved.
Another aspect to add is to portray your accomplishments and value to the business. This is done by focusing on your accomplishments over duties. This can help you stand out when your resume is scanned by the hiring manager or Human Resources professional. “Saved company $150,000 per year by streamlining the application process.” Lead with the result to catch the reader’s eye from the start.