Tips for Writing a Technical Resume That Will Make You Stand Out

by Kelly Gerlach

Writing a Technical Resume

Writing resumes is not fun. Having to sell ourselves to an unknown Human Resources representative or a hiring manager by using as few words as possible is difficult! The difficulty increases when you are applying for a technical Information Technology position.

As an IT Recruiter, I see hundreds of resumes a week. At the time of writing this article, we are in the first week of March 2017, and I have already reviewed over 500 resumes, so trust me when I say that I’ve seen everything!

I’d like to provide you, the job seeker, with a few tips and tricks to make your technical resume jump out from the crowd, and really make a hiring manager take note!

Keep It Short and Sweet

If you are applying directly to a position, and not utilizing a staffing firm, your resume will probably be uploaded into a database and, hopefully, reviewed by a live person down the road. If you’ve searched for jobs in the past and really pounded the pavement, you’ve more than likely received a rejection letter nearly immediately after hitting the "submit" button.

Why? Well, a lot of job application systems require the hiring manager to add different skill sets that they would like their candidates to possess. If your resume doesn’t reflect these keywords, the system may reject you immediately as not qualified.

When you are composing your resume, keep it short.

If you can, try to narrow down your experience in two to three pages. Remember, your resume is a reflection of what you’ve done in the past – it does not take the place of an interview!

I see resumes constantly with paragraphs of text outlining what the candidate did during their tenure at a specific company. Here’s a little inside secret from a former hiring manager (I was responsible for staffing a team of 25) – we don’t read paragraphs of text!

Bullet point your achievements, and keep them short. I want to hear your story in person, not on a piece of paper. You aren’t writing an autobiography. You are trying to land a job. Keep the experience relevant to the position you are applying for and your chances of getting called for an interview will increase!

Use Metrics to Showcase Achievements

Using tangible metrics is a great way to show a hiring manager what you’ve accomplished in previous roles. For example, if you developed a specific application that saved your company X amount of time, or millions of dollars, brag about it! Your achievements are things to be proud of, and hiring managers LOVE it when you can provide hard data to back up your claims.

Brag a Bit

Like I said above, achievements are things to be proud of. When you write your resume, make sure to use action words like "managed" or "developed." This shows that you were the one running with the project, and led it to completion!

Talk About Your Skills

This may seem a little obvious, but you would be surprised how many people hide their technical skills inside the other resume text. If I’m hiring for a web developer or a security expert, I want to see the technologies you’re familiar with at the top of your resume! No fancy graph is needed, a simple "C# - 8 years" will suffice.

Skip the basic skills that everyone has. Chances are if you are applying for a technical position, you know how to utilize Microsoft Word and Excel.

Ditch the Objective

When a hiring manager receives your resume in their inbox, they know your objective is to secure a role with a company where your skills can be well utilized. They know this because everyone has the same objective. Instead of trying to make your objective different, or stand out, save the space by removing it completely.

Replace Objective With a Summary

A summary doesn’t need to be long. In fact, your summary doesn’t even need to be paragraph form! Remember when I said bullet points are your friend when keeping your resume concise and attractive to a hiring manager? This applies to the summary section as well.

Open your resume with a “Professional Summary” that lists out a few facts about your experience level, biggest accomplishments, and any certifications that you carry. This provides a snapshot of the relevant (and important) information on your resume. When you list out your individual experience and the responsibilities you held, this is when you give relevant information!

Keep It Simple

As a technical IT professional, it can get a bit cumbersome to try to explain to a person exactly what you do and how you do it. It’s important to keep things simple in your resume. Don’t dumb down accomplishments or experience, but make sure that an HR rep that may review your resume with no prior technical experience can understand what you actually do.

You can always explain further when you get the phone interview!

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The biggest piece of advice when writing a technical resume is to always remember that the recruiter and hiring manager have reviewed hundreds of resumes before. You want to keep yours clean, easy to read, and showcase the important aspects (technical skills, quantitative accomplishments, etc.) at the top of your resume.

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