Crafting the perfect resume is nearly impossible. It's all about the industry you're in, who's looking at the resume, and your past experience. Every recruiter, hiring manager, and supervisor has different likes and dislikes. Some hate bolded font, others appreciate non-traditional designs, and others don't even read the summary. Here are some basic resume tips from the senior recruiters at Code Talent to help you strengthen your tech resume and land the job:
Keep your resume short and sweet. Your resume should be a highly targeted document that will compel a hiring manager to call you in for an interview. It's not a list of everything you've done, every technology you've ever worked with (or want to work with), or a novel about your accomplishments. Save the details for the interview:
"Resumes are a tool to provide a good, quick summary of what you have been doing. Interviews are the format to go into great detail about what you did at previous jobs, if asked," ~Kevin.
If you're having a hard time to keep it short, try switching out formal paragraphs for lists or incomplete sentences. As long as it's understandable, there's no need to have long paragraphs—no one will read them.
"I'm big on bullet points or short blurbs. When I open a resume and feel like I'm reading a college essay I get turned off pretty quickly. I like to see the basics of what you did and what technologies and skills you used, but you don't need all the extra words and sentences," ~Tyler.
When discussing exactly how long a resume should be, each recruiter had different ideas. Some believe that limiting it to a page is outdated now that we are in the digital era. Others think there's plenty of room on one page to fit any and all experience that is relevant to the job you're applying for. Either way, make sure your resume is as short as possible, tailoring it specifically to the job you're going after.
"We see dozens of resumes everyday, and although its creation can be a tedious task, it's important to understand that your resume is your career calling card, and your first impression to a company. The first question to ask yourself is: does it showcase your best work? I would start by avoiding long introductions and keeping the resume clean, concise, and easy to read," ~Eric.
It's much easier to trim down your resume when you are laser focused at the task at hand: showcasing your best and most relevant work. Don't bother with jargon or buzzwords to fill your resume. If it's not directly related to the position you want, take it out. Bullet points can help keep things clear and concise, allowing those looking at your resume to read it faster and understand exactly what you did, without having to search for it.
While discussing specific sections of the resume, nearly every recruiter had something to say about the introduction of the resume. The most important thing is to keep this section short. The best summaries display your experience, passions, leadership styles, and career goals in a straight-forward manner.
For example, this summary bullets out all important aspects of the candidate's experience, while also demonstrating passion:
- Passionate technologist who understands that solutions are built "By People, For People," and need to be inherently customer-focused.
- 3 years experience leading Agile software development teams; 11 years experience across all functions of the SDLC
- Believes that leaders fundamentally enable team success by establishing a clear vision, creating a culture of accountability, and empowering individual growth through problem solving.
If you want to keep a short paragraph, just keep it under 3 sentences. Begin with a quick description of your experience, and wrap it up with what makes you tick:
"Strong full stack developer and leader currently managing a team writing internal web applications and RESTful APIs in Java and Ruby. Extremely fast learner looking to transition into a career changing the world of B2B applications."
Both summaries are free of jargon, and give a snapshot of both their experience and who they are behind the resume.
Make sure your career history is listed in reverse chronological order, with your most recent position at the very top. This makes it easier to see your most recent and most important experience.
Additionally, don't limit your career history to describing your responsibilities—it shouldn't read like a job description. Briefly describe your duties, but include how you impacted the company:
"Rather than giving a general overview of what the entire team did at your company, be specific with how you fit into the overall picture. Instead of saying you used a specific technology, how did you use it? What challenges did you overcome? What was your specific function within your team? Did you manage anyone? Answering these questions help to give a clear picture of your day-to-day," ~Bret.
Additionally, include the technologies you used along with each position, Conor, Partner at Code, strongly advises his candidates to specifically illustrate the technologies they used and in what capacity. It’s great to have a technical skills section, but don’t have just have a list without tying each skill to specific positions and work. A technical keyword should never appear only once in a resume.
As Conor said, having a technical skills section at the top or bottom of the resume is fine, as long as those skills are connected to experience. Don’t just have a long list of technologies you’ve somewhat used, it will ruin your credibility and create an awkward interview:
“I would say the #1 mistake in tech that I see with people’s resumes is in their technical skills section, I sometimes see folks that will list every technology known to man, but in reality just have interest in a majority of the skills listed, and have experience in very few. Inserting too many technologies into your resume for buzzword purposes will nearly always come back to bite you in an interview down the road.” ~Riley
Let’s say you’re looking at two resumes. One lists over 100 “skills,” while the other lists 10. It’s far more likely that you would read (and believe) the 10 skills, while skimming over—or just ignore completely—the 100 skills. 10 skills give hiring managers a highly useful summary to determine your fit for a job, 100 skills makes it difficult to tell what someone can actually bring to the company. Model yours off of the simple example below:
- Languages: Java, Ruby, Python, SQL (MySQL)
- Tools: Rubymine, Eclipse, Maven, SVN, Git, Perforce, Jenkins, JIRA, Confluence, Fisheye/Crubicle, MySQL Workbench, Hipchat
- OS: Windows XP—10, Linux (Ubuntu, CentOS), FreeBSD
Just remember to never list a technology only once. All of the above technical skills were also listed under the applicants career experience, so the reader knew exactly when, where, and how the skill was really used. Ensure your technical skills section is easy to read, simple, and does not take long to understand your top skills.
Keep these general tips in mind, and your resume will be ready in no time. A resume is all about crafting a relevant, targeted summary of your experience. Though it can be tiresome to tailor each resume to a specific job, it's worth it to show your dedication and passion. Take out the long sentences and work to showcase who you really are and what you've accomplished.
What's your resume advice? Comment below and let us know what's worked for you!