Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Every New Year brings new opportunities — including, for many, career opportunities. Technology professionals know that many companies are competing for talented employees with unique perspectives, skills and talents. In this environment, you must be clear and concise without adding to the noise.

Part of presenting a polished professional IT or tech image is your technical resume. This lengthy document has now become a PDF, a web page, a LinkedIn profile, a Stack Overflow Developer Story, a YouTube video, a GitHub profile, or even a combination of these.

Over the past several years, we have seen how ineffective most candidates are in trying to communicate their experience, technical skills, and potential. Here are some tips to help you in standing out.

Let’s start by not claiming to be an expert in Java and intermediate in C#, let’s drop Times New Roman, and let’s remind ourselves that squashing a 4-page CV into a single page probably isn’t a good idea.

Why not submit your updated technical resume for information on current opportunities and relevant information?

Don’t include everything

More often than not, tech professionals include every programming language that they have ever encountered on their resumes. Although showing off your skills is important, this can be misleading as employers expect you to be highly proficient in the skills they see on a CV.

If you put a language on your resume that you’re not completely confident in working with, your employer will not be happy to see that you are not able to do the work. Only include languages that you would comfortably work with in the future.

Tell them what you’re learning and plan to learn

Following up on the previous tip, you may not be confident in a programming language today – but you could be learning it! Even if you often work on legacy platforms, tell employers what your interests are and what you are doing to get there. For example, if you are interested in developing mobile applications, list the courses that you are currently taking and when you expect for them to end.

Don’t stress about length, but do respect your reader’s time

In the tech recruitment industry, your resume may only remain on a screen so there’s next to no pressure to make it fit on one page. That doesn’t mean you should be wordy! Understand that whoever is looking at your CV will have potentially seen hundreds of others in a day. If you cram in too much information or have a resume design that makes keywords hard to see at a glance, it could be off-putting. If you work with web development, that should feel more or less natural to you.

People jump through pages, their eyes quickly moving over words. You should effectively optimise your resume for similar user behaviour.

Make sure your resume is focused and use your best judgement. You may want to show your CV to people outside the IT and tech industry to get their thoughts about length and clarity. If you have a friend working in copywriting, even better!

Use plain language

It’s quite likely that your resume won’t be reviewed at first by someone in the sector. It will probably go to the employer’s HR or talent acquisition department, where people may be unfamiliar with tech terminology. That’s why it’s critical to use plain English. List languages and frameworks but stay away from jargon. Put an emphasis not just on what you’ve done, but the value it created for your current and previous employers. 

Don’t use the same resume twice

Every job is different and every team will be looking for different skills. A CV prepared for one job opening may not be applicable to another so customisation is key. This shouldn’t be a difficult process, as you don’t need to customise most of your CV.

There may be skills that you failed to mention which the employer seems to value by the look of the job description. Ask yourself what each employer needs to know about you, and tailor your CV accordingly.

Review, review, review

Use the spelling and grammar checkers built into your word processor, then read over it yourself, as well as somebody else. Even the most promising candidates have been known to make mistakes but employers will see these as red flags. They may think that a candidate who is sloppy with their writing will carry the same behaviour across to their programming.

In conclusion

Although an amazing CV does not guarantee you a new job, do not underestimate its power. A well-written, focused, customised CV will help you in being successful during the recruitment process.

Once you have perfected your CV and the interview, it is never a bad idea to confirm the interviewer’s hopefulness with a well-written thank you note. Be sure to proofread this too and resolve any doubts they may have because this could be your final opportunity to make a great impression.

Otherwise, good luck!

Produced by Shanon Pattenden

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