How to Write an IT Resume

CHAPTER 2: 10 KEYS TO A RESUME THAT JUMPS

In the process of reviewing thousands of resumes, we have developed a list of 10 “keys” to writing a great resume.

1. Start strong

Don’t jump directly into your chronological work experience. Start instead with a compelling title and summary that gives context and makes employers want to read on. Include a quick list of career highlights and key skills if appropriate. Just out of school or changing careers? Start with an objective.

2. Use appropriate structure

Chronological resumes group your work experience by job. Use this if you’re staying in the same general field. Functional resumes group your work experience by skill. Consider this if you're switching careers or have big employment gaps.

3. Include necessary components

Before thinking about the substance of your resume, make sure it has all of the basics: phone number and email; company names, locations, titles, and dates of employment; and school names and degrees.

4. Say enough but not too much

Some people don’t provide enough detail about their experience. Most people give too much, going on and on about job details that put readers to sleep. Fact: Hiring managers will spend less time reading your resume than you’d like. Unless your resume is concise and crisp, they’ll miss your best stuff.

5. Use action verbs

Employers want action-oriented worker who get things done. So start your bullets and sentences with a diverse set of powerful verbs. Unless it’s a current job, all your verbs should be past tense.

6. Focus on achievements

Most resumes are laundry lists of everyday job duties. Boring! Cover your core responsibilities quickly and move onto unique accomplishments that show passion, initiative, and leadership. This is critical!

7. Quantify your experience

Add credibility and uniqueness by quantifying your work experience with dollar figures, percentages, and comparisons. Understand what metrics are important in your industry (everyone values saving money and saving time) and integrate hard numbers into your responsibilities and achievements.

8. Avoid typos and errors

Typos and other errors are the fastest ticket to the recycling bins of busy hiring managers. Triple-check that your resume has no misspellings and that it uses proper, consistent capitalization and punctuation.

9. Write like a marketer

Your resume is competing for attention in a crowded space – it’s like an advertisement for you. So write like a marketer. Use concise, punchy language. Speak to the needs of your audience and emphasize what differentiates you from the competition.

10. Use effective formatting

Your resume doesn’t need to be fancy, but it does need to look professional and be easy to scan. Use the right mix of white space, indents, bullets, and fonts to get there. Stick to 1 or 2 pages unless you’re an executive. And don’t cheat by using a small font or small margins – that just makes things worse.

With this context, it's time to move onto a series of concrete steps you can take to build a great IT resume!

Go to Chapter 3