This post was originally posted on the now-dead ProjectSherpa blog.
Welcome back for part 3 of our Rewrite Your Tech Resume series!
A perfectly formatted resume that’s light on content is like lipstick on a pig. Bad formatting and improper grammar distract the reader, so it’s important to clean these up; however, a resume needs to convey some sense of YOU. Why are you interesting? Will you be a good fit for this firm? Can you do this job?
The first question to ask is: who is your audience? Who is reading your resume? A recruiter is looking for very different things than a technical hiring manager. It can make sense to have multiple versions of your resume, serving content based on the expected reader. Recruiters, generally speaking, are most interested in keyword matching. The closer the reader is to the role, the more familiar he or she is with the specifics. Find out who will be reading your resume and tailor it for maximum impact.
If you’re working with a recruiter, ask if you can send over a new version before sending the resume off for first round reviews. It’s not critical that you customize your resume for each different reader, but at least consider whether what you’ve written is relevant for your audience.
Some other suggestions:
- Be concise. If you’ve been in the industry for a long time, you may have a multi-page resume. (If you have less than 5 years of work experience and have a multi-page resume already, you’re doing it wrong!) If you get bored reading your own resume it’s safe to assume everyone else will as well.
- “development of client-server web-based applications” – What is the technical hiring manager looking for? This is a tough question to answer generally, of course; however, it’s safe to say that most hiring managers will be curious to know about your recent projects, and what impact you made on those specific projects. To that end, give some specifics! Describe the project you worked on, either in paragraph form or throughout the bullets. What did these applications do?
- Demonstrate that you can understand and solve problems. Many technical folks view programming as a tool for solving problems, and the best developers transcend a specific toolset, learning what’s needed and using what’s most appropriate for solving those problems. Demonstrate that you’ve learned whatever business in which you were working, and can solve problems in that domain.
- “managed deliverables for all projects” – For each of your bullets, ask yourself, what am I trying to convey? What exactly were the deliverables? What was the scope of your management with regards to these deliverables? A generic statement doesn’t just tell us nothing about your work experience, but it also shows you’re not a good communicator.
- “guaranteed accuracy of project deliverables based on estimates” – If a bullet conveys nothing, and there’s no room for improving it, remove the bullet entirely. Saying you “worked on projects to meet goals” is completely pointless! Of course you worked on projects, and of course you worked towards goals! Get rid of your resume bloat.
- “improved system architecture to improve general system performance” – If you have an opportunity to give meaningful metrics, jump on it if they add credibility. Did you reduce the memory footprint from 8GB to 2GB, or did you just remove some unnecessary instance variables? An interested interviewer who digs into this bullet will ask for the specifics, so you might as well give some of that upfront.
- “designed and taught an internal course…” – Highlight interesting achievements, even if they did not occupy a majority of your time. These achievements separate you from the crowd, they make interesting talking points, and they give you an opportunity to show yourself off during the interview.
Have any other suggestions?