When a technical professional decides they want to move into management, they often struggle with communicating how their technical skills and capabilities qualify them to manage a team, budgets, resources, and other assets. Another challenge they may face is needing to interview with and earn the endorsement of a non-technical hiring manager. It is possible for an IT professional to identify and communicate the skills and achievements a non-technical hiring manager wants to see, but you must first think about how to highlight the different ways your work impacts the company’s top- or bottom-line. I have helped hundreds of IT clients brainstorm this type of resume content. Whether you decide to work with a professional resume writer or go at it on your own, read on for my recommendations:
Project Management Equals Team & Financial Leadership
Many IT professionals have earned their PMP certifications (Project Management Professional) or at least completed some PMP training. Depending on where you work and their organizational structure, managing a project automatically means you have certain skills needed to IT management. Not every project requires all of these aspects of management, but consider which ones you have done and make sure you highlight them in your resume:
- Team Leadership: You may not be responsible for a team of 20, but you likely have managed people in the course of a project. One of the most important elements of management is proving that you can lead a team. Even if you only managed contractors, make sure you highlight this aspect of leading a project on your resume.
- Financial Management: Most managers will hold some type of financial responsibility. They might have a budget to manage or could just be in charge of approving purchase orders or controlling costs. If you completed any aspects of financial oversight while leading a project, make sure you highlight that. If you can mention a dollar figure for the budget you managed, that’s even better.
- Resource Management: When managing projects, you might not just oversee employees; you could manage other resources as well. If you supervised physical or digital assets, make sure you communicate that as well.
- Client and Vendor Relations: When managing a project, chances are good that you worked with clients, vendors, or both. As a manager, you could be called upon to handle upset clients and resolve any issues they might have. You also may need to work with vendors to ensure all aspects of the operation are functioning smoothly. If you have already done this sort of work, be sure to point that out on your resume.
Highlight How Your Work Impacts the Business and Bottom Line
Most technical professionals have worked on implementations, upgrades, or migrations that have proven beneficial to their employers. After all, why would you spend money to implement new software or hardware if it didn’t increase efficiency, save money, or enable some new capability? However, most IT professionals only list the programs they implemented or how they migrated the company from one software to another, never thinking to mention results.
Now, in many cases, you won’t know the exact results of your work. You might not know the exact dollar figure that was saved, how long it took for the company to realize full ROI on the project, or what efficiency improvements were achieved (if you do, be certain to include those numbers). However, you probably do know the “problem” you were trying to resolve with your work and if it was successful. If so, be sure to include that when you describe your achievements.
Instead of: “Implemented an upgrade of PeopleSoft software in four offices across Texas.”
Write: “Enabled improvements in report generation and analysis by implementing an upgrade of PeopleSoft software in four offices across Texas.”
Instead of: “Worked on implementation projects for SAP, Oracle, Ruby on Rails, and MS Office.”
Write: “Contributed to implementation projects that improved efficiency for multiple teams and lowered labor hours; technical applications include SAP, Oracle, Ruby on Rails, and MS Office.”
Don’t List Technical Applications in Every Bullet
I’ve found that many technical professionals want to list every application, language, and tool they used in every bullet they write. There is simply no way that a non-technical manager will understand a resume that reads that way. It is important to include a list of your technical skills at the bottom of your resume for keyword searches, but for your job descriptions, limit yourself to the most important applications only.
Try to remember that when transitioning into management, it is more important that you demonstrate business acumen, leadership skills, and client/ communication skills than a long list of programs and tools you have mastered. If you are having difficulty telling if your resume is too densely packed with technical skills, show it to a non-technical friend and ask them if they understand it. If they say “yes,” you are probably ok. If they look at you like the resume is written in Chinese, it’s time to edit.
FINAL NOTE: Read the job description of the position you are applying to carefully. If it lists certain technical skills, those are the ones you can highlight. If it lists certifications and you have them, make sure you bold those on your resume. The non-technical skills it lists is where you want to focus your attention to make sure you get past the keyword scanners and get the interview.