As a technology professional you have many of the same challenges as everyone else when it comes to writing your resume. But you also face some special issues that apply to you whether you’re in development, IT or some other technical role.
I’d like to talk about those issues here, and outline the best way of handling them.
You Have Two Audiences
Most people can write their resume for just one audience, but you have two very distinct groups: people who know technology and people who don’t.
The people who don’t know technology may include HR reps, recruiters and non-technical managers (for example, in many companies IT reports to the CFO). These people have a rudimentary idea of what you do technically, but what they really want to know is how your technical knowledge will have a business impact. (Will you work help them cut costs, save time, increase sales etc.?)
The people who know technology have different concerns. They will probably be managing you – or at least working closely with you. They want to know how much easier you will make their lives and much of this depends on your technology knowledge and skills.
Let’s take the two audiences one at a time:
Speaking to the non-techies
For these people it’s important not to let your resume get bogged down in technical terms that they won’t understand.
Don’t write long bullet points detailing the technologies you used. Instead, explain the impact your work made on the business. Here are a couple of strong bullet points from a Systems Administrator resume:
- Cut development costs more than 50% by outsourcing programming rather than hiring full-time employees.
- Increased system availability from 85% to almost 100%, and improved customer satisfaction, by introducing N+1 redundancy and eliminating rarely used features.
Note that the second bullet point does include technical terminology (N+1 redundancy) but it’s not enough to confuse the layperson.
Talking to the Tech-heads
Now the second audience. This is the IT Manager, Project Manager, Director of Engineering or CTO. He or she will understand all your technical expertise and will actually be looking for it.
Rather than bogging down all your resume content with this information, include it in a technical skills summary (check out this resume sample for an example).
A couple of important tips on writing a technical skills summary:
- Only include current technologies or platforms. Remove anything that is outdated because it will date you and also make it harder for the reader to find the important stuff.
- If you’re a hands-on technologist (such as a programmer or a help desk technician), put your skills summary on page one before your career chronology. If you’re an executive, put it at the end of the resume.
- Don’t include every little thing. If you clutter up your technical skills listing with things like ‘Safari’ and Microsoft Word’ you’ll hide the important skills.
Blow Your Own Trumpet
I’m not sure why, but most technology professionals seem to be reluctant to boast. That’s normally a great quality, but when it comes to writing your resume, you have to toot your own horn. No one else will do it for you!
Do a careful inventory of what you have to offer potential employers and then make sure that you communicate those things clearly throughout your resume. Always delivered your projects on time? Say so! Known for creating clean and efficient code? Make a big deal of it!
My last tip related to the length of your resume. Often IT and technology professionals try to tell everything in their resume and as a result, wind up with a document 4 or 5 pages long. This is too much.
While there is no set rule for resume length, as a general rule, one or two pages is the right length. I usually write one page resumes for new graduates or people with only a few years of work experience. Any more than that and two pages is usually warranted.
Writing a technology resumes does have some special challenges, but if you combine our general advice with these tips specific to your field, you can write a resume that makes a huge impact on potential employers.
Also, feel free to check out our IT and technology resume samples to get some inspiration for your own resume. Good luck!