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7 Tips for a Winning Resume

7 Tips for a Winning Resume

In a period where national unemployment is at an all-time low, technical jobs are surprisingly in-demand. It is a job seeker’s market in the tech sector. More jobs exist than qualified people to fill them. Good people with the right skills are at a premium. 

Nevertheless, applicants in the I/T sector need a specialized resume. A technical resume (aka Curriculum Vitae or CV, literally “course of life”) for a job in I/T differs from other resumes. What works to land a sales, executive assistant, or librarian job will not work for a tech job.  

Here are seven must-have tips for writing a successful technical resume to grab employers’ attention and push your CV to the top of their stacks.

Tip 1 – Customize Your Resume

If you remember only one tip from this article, make it this one. Cookiecutter resumes that could apply to any job opening from janitor to CEO quickly find their way to the bottom of an HR representative’s stack. If you have not taken the time to research the position for which you are applying and tailor your resume to speak to the relevant skills and experiences of the job, the readers will immediately recognize you are not a serious candidate. HR people read dozens, sometimes hundreds, of resumes every day. They can spot a standard template from a handcrafted CV in an instant. Clearly identify the job you want and place the most relevant information about your qualifications for that specific job at the top of the page.

Tip 2 – List Accomplishments

Prospective employers want to know what you have done successfully, not just what your previous job descriptions were. A list of accomplishments is far more impressive than a list of tasks and responsibilities.

“Styled an entire website with CSS.”

“Deployed executables on a three-node Linux cluster using Mulesoft.”

“Resolved 25 trouble tickets and installed a break-fix before my manager was aware of the outage.”

If you haven’t had a lot of direct work experience, list your certifications. You worked hard to earn them, and industry-recognized certifications attest to a level of knowledge and skill and a willingness to learn.

Tip 3 – Be Relevant

An I/T manager looking for a competent software engineer is not interested in your first job flipping burgers or lifeguarding at the local pool. On the other hand, if you are shifting from a non-tech job to an I/T career, look for accomplishments in your previous jobs that will translate to your new environment. Teamwork, communication, presentations, planning and organizing, problem solving—such experiences are always relevant. Employers are not hiring a textbook or a machine, they are hiring humans who know how to work and how play well with others.

Tip 4 – Rank Computer Skills

Not all skills are created equal. You may have taken classes and done projects using a half dozen computer languages, but chances are, you are not equally adept in every language on every platform.  Group your skills according to your level of expertise—Expert, Intermediate, Learning. An expert has mastered a particular skill, rarely has to look up information about how to use the skill to perform a task, and often helps others with that skill. Someone with intermediate level skill can accomplish many tasks with only occasionally referring to user guides or googling a function. A learner typically spends as much time researching as performing and turns regularly to experts for guidance. Even experts in one skill may be learners in another skill. Nobody can know everything about everything. If you are a tech newbie and rank yourself as a learner in every skill, that’s okay, provided you are applying for an entry-level position. Being a learner is a good thing when a company is willing to train you and assign you a mentor.

Tip 5 – Put Skills in Context

As an extension of Tip 2, do not just list a skill, but explain briefly how you have used the skill. It’s good that you know three programming languages, but it’s better to describe how you used each language to solve a problem or complete a project. The context doesn’t always have to be paid work. Projects you have done in an internship, as a volunteer, or even just for your own edification are valid. 

Tip 6 – Simple Format Gets to the Point

Appearance is not nearly as important to a busy manager as finding the relevant information at the top of the page. You have 30 seconds to capture a potential boss’s attention. If you make people read all the way to the bottom of the page to get to what they are interested in, you have lost them. An overly fancy, complicated format with a dozen flashy fonts, a rainbow of colors, and frilly bullet points is distracting. Unless you are applying for a job as an artist, keep your document simple and readable. Avoid italics, which are hard to read. Use bold typefaces sparing to highlight only the most critical words. And keep the whole thing brief. Unless you have thirty years of totally relevant and absolutely essential experience, condense and summarize your information to fit on a single page. If you get a job offer, you’ll have plenty of space on the application form to fill in your entire work experience. Your resume is designed to grab attention, not lay out your life’s story.

Tip 7 – Skip the Objectives Section

A hiring manager is not so much interested in what the company can do for you as what you can do for the company. Your aspirations and career goals will not get you a job. Your five-year life plan is irrelevant to an HR representative. What employers care about in a resume is that you want a particular job and you have the skills and experience to do the job. Your lifelong dreams may be a question in the interview, but don’t waste the space on the paper.

Conclusion

A resume will not get you a job, but it will get you an interview. Despite the fact that resumes are often called CVs (i.e., “course of life”), your resume is not about your life. It is really about the potential employer’s needs. You have one page to convince the hiring manager or HR representative that you are exactly the candidate they are looking for. Write to your audience and they will positively respond. 
RemoteMode’s full-service training program goes beyond their professional courses to also help you craft a winning resume that will highlight your new skills in the best light to open doors to your new career. Contact a RemoteMode career counselor today to learn about all the services and features of a retraining program that will put you into a remote technical job in less time than you think.

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