I review dozens of resumes every week – from mostly highly skilled IT professionals with 20+ years of working experience and at least one university degree. It astounds me how poorly written many of them are. Often, I have to search for the skill set I was advertising for. Poor formatting, spelling errors, too many buzzwords and poor grammar are only some of the faults that I see in way too many resumes.
An interesting anecdote: I’ve worked in the IT consulting space for 15+ years in sales, marketing and talent management. I’ve found that the best talent often have the worst resume – primarily because they’ve never really had to have one! They’re in demand and go from client to client, hence they really don’t know how to write an effective resume.
So, to help you job-seekers out there, I’ve put forward 7 tips to help you tune your resume and get those interviews!
- Key Strengths – lead with 5-8 key strengths you have that are relevant to the role you are seeking! Recruiters spend on average 30 seconds looking for a reason to review a resume in detail. You want to give them that reason up front. Don’t be lazy – if you are responding to a particular role, revise your Key Strengths to highlight your qualifications for that role. See #2 below. This is your sales pitch!
- 3 – 4 pages maximum. I know, most of you are self-employed IT consultants and probably have 20+ gigs under your belt and you like to list and describe them all. Resist that urge and put in some time to understand what skills / experience the company is really looking for and then edit your resume to bring those skills and experience forward in your resume. Leave the others out, or shorten them (in a Chronological resume).
- Chronological or Functional? Maybe both. Chronological is the most common format – listing all your jobs in the order of most recent first. Functional focuses on the work you’ve done, the skills you bring to the table and (most importantly) the achievements and results that best meet the requirements of the company and the gig you’re applying for. If you just can’t get by with a three-page Chronological that expresses how great a fit you are, submit both.
- Achievements and results – not responsibilities. Nobody cares what your responsibilities were (at least, not much). We want to know what you accomplished, what were the results and what value your skills added to your client!
- Formatting – clean and crisp. Justified. 10 or 11pt font. Bullet points, not long sentences with too many commas. Here’s an example:
IBM Oct 2015-Sep 2016
Senior Project Manager (contract)
Retained by IBM to manage an in-flight outsourcing transition/transformation project for their client that
was clearly headed for trouble.
- Here’s my approach to the challenge (2-3 bullets)
- The project was back on track (timing and budget) within three months (3+ bullets)
- The client achieved full transition within the allotted time and budget, resulting in savings of $xxxx.
- Acronyms – the IT / Tech sector has thousands of them. Many are specific to a particular sector. Use them carefully, keeping in mind your audience. If you’re unsure, expand with the full name in brackets.
- Spelling and Grammar check – in Word, use this tool and double-check suggested replacement words. Also, it will miss words like then/than; i.e. The Blue Jays are better then the Red Sox. Have someone else review it for you.
Finally, BE OBJECTIVE! Would you hire the person based on the resume? Remember, this is your first impression so make it count!