Writing an IT resume doesn't need to be so challenging. Your IT resume shouldn't require a technical dictionary to read either. While your skills are technical and often complex in nature, your resume should be easy to scan and easy to understand when read by a non-technical professional such as a Human Resource Generalist. You may know the basics to resume writing (spell your name correctly, list your work history, etc.), but your IT resume needs to stand out from the potentially hundreds of other resumes submitted by equally qualified candidates.
This blueprint for writing an IT resume will help you develop a job-winning document that highlights your technical skills as well as presents the value you offer to any IT role.
REFLECT ON YOUR EXPERIENCE
You should start by reflecting on your experience. Too often, especially when writing an IT resume, important details are forgotten. Consider which areas of your background you are most passionate about. Are you more excited about managing projects and delegating tasks, or analyzing large-scale databases and finding areas for improvements in business operations? You should also consider your achievements and any major contributions that you made with or without any recognition
RESEARCH YOUR IDEAL JOB OPPORTUNITIES
Take the time to look into different job titles and responsibilities as well as the companies that you may want to work for. Using Indeed, LinkedIn, or a similar reputable job board, you should research which roles you are qualified for based on your technical skills and previous experiences. You may even discover that you are qualified for job opportunities that you may never have considered.
Your values and passions should match up with your ideal company's culture, and you can research this information on the company's website and social profiles. You can also find more information about working for a particular company on Glassdoor, a review site that encourages employees to anonymously post reviews about the company they work for. Facebook and Instagram are also great tools for getting a glimpse of what working for that company is like.
DETERMINE YOUR JOB TARGET
Targeted resumes are far more effective than broad, generic resumes. Technical professionals especially should focus on providing only the most relevant information from their background on a targeted resume. With a diverse technical background, you may be tempted to present yourself as a "generalist." Employers want a "specialist" in a technical role.
Analyze the job posting to identify what the employer's immediate need is. Make sure your resume, from your Career Summary to your Experience section, presents you as the best candidate to meet that need.
CREATE A SKILLS INVENTORY
When creating a skills inventory, you should consider more than just your technical skills. Determine which skills are needed to complete the job that you do by identifying your primary tasks and then analyzing what skills were needed to complete each task effectively. Some job-related tasks may include data analysis, budget management, or project management. You should also consider any soft skills, or transferable skills, such as task delegation or strategic planning.
Having a completed skills inventory on hand will help you target your resume for other job opportunities as they come along. Developing your skills inventory will speed up the resume writing or resume targeting process for you later on.
TRANSLATE TECHNICAL JARGON
Like any writing project, you should write for your reader. In other words, write your resume so that the first person reading it will understand what it is you are talking about. Depending on the size of the company you are targeting, your resume will likely be read by a HR professional before it is ever read by the person you will report to. Do you think a HR professional understands technical jargon beyond what specific software proficiencies are required for the role?
Translate your technical skills by describing what you actually do rather than using shorthand or the vast number of acronyms that resonate with your industry. You check your email for technical support questions. You attend meetings to report on project milestones and collaborate with the senior leadership team on strategic planning. You run system upgrades to improve performance. Consider what you do in a typical day, and describe these details so that they are easy for a non-technical professional to read and understand.
HIGHLIGHT ACCOMPLISHMENTS & MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS
Employers love measurable accomplishments such as dollars saved or percentages increased; however, an effective IT resume will also highlight major accomplishments or contributions made by identifying how you solved specific problems. Describe what actions you took or what skills you applied to achieve these results. For a bonus, explain why this effort was necessary or why these results were so important.
You can also describe any new processes or procedures you created and/or implemented to improve functionality or enhance user experiences. You don't need to be reminded that technical fields are constantly evolving. Highlight on any contributions to system or quality improvements.
DESCRIBE ANY PROJECTS YOU LED OR COMPLETED
Within the IT field, it's common for the majority of your work to be project-based. Whether you are a project manager or not, your contributions to completing a project should be discussed on your resume. Start by identifying the results and then build out the statement by describing your action and why this project was necessary.
You can also use the SAR or CAR approach to describing your project management or project contribution experience. This storytelling approach requires you to identify the situation (or challenge), your actions, and the results. Simply listing the results with nothing more to support your claims won't be satisfactory to an employer.
OPTIMIZE YOUR RESUME USING KEYWORDS IN THE JOB POSTING
When targeting your resume, use the specific job posting to optimize your resume with relevant keywords. You can find several appropriate keywords under the Qualifications or Requirements section of a job posting. These keywords can be a college degree or field of study, software proficiency, and other job-related skills.
Your goal should be to naturally integrate these keywords into your resume. You can replace your terminology in your Experience section with these keywords or list them in an easy-to-scan Areas of Expertise section.
CREATE A CAREER SUMMARY THAT PROMOTES THE VALUE YOU OFFER
Your Career Summary covers the top third or quarter of your resume and should inspire the reader to read further. Keep in mind that the average time a recruiter or HR professional will spend reviewing your resume before deciding to call you for an interview is less than 15 seconds. More often than not, they may spend less than seven seconds deciding whether you are a qualified candidate or not.
The most effective Career Summary for an IT resume will highlight your qualifications and, most importantly, identify what value you offer. The greatest value you could offer is to solve the employer's immediate problem or to meet the employer's specific need. Too many technical resumes fail to present candidates appropriately in this sense.
PROOFREAD AND EDIT FOR CLARITY
Finally, you should make sure to thoroughly proofread and edit your technical resume. If you are an IT professional who struggles with written communication skills, keep an eye out for these issues with your content: misspellings and typos, grammar, verb tenses, word usage, and punctuation. You should also review your resume's presentation for any issues with spacing, font size for formatting, margin width, and general readability.
It is wise to have another set of eyes look over your resume as well. Asking a non-technical professional to read through your resume and give you feedback will also be advantageous when struggling to translate any technical jargon.