Research has taught us that most recruiters and hiring managers will only spend about 6 to 10 seconds scanning each resume before putting it into the “consideration” pile or throwing it out. This means that you must be able to grab their attention quickly, make them want to learn more and persuade them you are what they need. If this sounds similar to a marketing tactic, it is because that’s exactly what it is. Successful resume writing is nothing more than marketing on an individual level, and you must effectively sell yourself as the product the company needs to buy.
Unfortunately, many IT professionals do not excel in marketing, and they are rarely experts in resume writing or interviewing. This causes them to miss out on potential opportunities for which they are more than qualified because of the lack of skill in an area that is not necessarily related to the actual position. You may be able to explain in detail why exception handling is a critical component of software application, but you are totally unfamiliar with any marketing concepts.
Your resume is basically your short, 10 to 30 second advertisement, and as any good marketer knows, the first step to a successful marketing campaign is knowing your audience.
Targeted Resume Writing
The first step in creating a great IT resume is to determine what is important to your audience. Put yourself in the shoes of the employer and determine what factors are going to be most important when selecting an applicant. Think about the position itself and what kind of characteristics are needed for someone to be successful in that position.
Many people make the mistake of focusing too much on themselves in their resumes. I am good at this; I have accomplished that; and so forth. Inexperienced IT professionals or recent graduates, in particular, struggle with this. They often try to compensate their lack of experience with in-depth information about their classes, awards, grades, etc.
Planning Your Resume
In order to get that elusive interview call, try to get inside the head of the recruiter or the manager. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the goal of the employer in hiring someone for this position?
- What kind of person will be doing the hiring?
- What would set an exceptional candidate apart from a good one?
- What kind of special skills and abilities would that exceptional candidate have?
While there are many other questions that may help you in determining what will be important to the employer, the real goal is to answer only one question above all: What would make the perfect candidate for this position?
Writing Your Resume
Do not make the mistake of assuming that you can use the same resume for any IT job or even any subfield within the industry. You will need to tailor your resume to the needs of each employer, and research each job thoroughly before writing one. This may seem like a lot of work– and it is– but the end result will always make it worth it, once you land that great job.
The next step will be to choose your resume format and begin writing. There are two main formats:
- Chronological Resume: In this format, your past employers are listed in a chronological order, beginning with the most recent. This style is good if you already have an extensive employment history in IT, as it highlights your experience more than your skills.
- Functional Resume: This format is designed to highlight your skills more than your experience, putting less emphasis on your work history and more focus on what talents and qualifications you bring to the table. A functional resume may be ideal if you have little to no experience in IT.
There is also a combination or hybrid format that combines the two and can be ideal, as long as it is not too long or wordy. As long as you research the position, use targeted individual marketing to sell yourself and always put the needs of the employer first, you should be able to land your dream position with a great IT resume.