Crafting an outstanding technical resume is more than just throwing all your experiences onto a document and hitting submit. With how competitive tech roles are, you’ll likely be competing against a lot of other qualified applicants like yourself.
To build a winning technical resume in 2021, you’ll need to follow some important guidelines. Keep reading to learn all about them!
Tech Resume Format
Before you get into the meat of your technical resume, you need to pick an appropriate format. The format of your resume stands out at first glance and is the crux of a hiring manager’s first impression of your candidacy. While this may seem insignificant, it’s a critical step in the resume-building process.
The exact tech resume format you choose depends on personal preference, but it must have the following traits:
- Appropriate style for the job opening –> UX Designers may opt for a design-centric resume, whereas a Data Analyst may opt for a more traditional resume format.
- Easy-to-read format –> On average, recruiters look at resumes for around six to seven seconds, so they must be able to glean important information right away.
- Efficiently displays relevant experience --> After all, this is the central point of a tech resume.
Additionally, your resume must include the following sections, so ensure the format you choose allows for them:
- Name and contact info (email, phone, LinkedIn profile, address, personal website)
- Personal summary
- Work experience
- Relevant (hard and soft) skills
Monster has some excellent tech resume examples across many tech roles if you’re looking for inspiration.
Cut the Fluff
Sure, you can pick the perfect tech resume format and stick in all the relevant sections, but that won’t mean a thing if there’s too much information on the page.
Start by making each bullet point under different experiences as short as possible while still capturing the point. You aren’t writing an essay, so it’s acceptable to abridge sentences like so:
- Lead team of 6 software engineers on project that decreased device login times by 2.7 seconds on average.
Notice how some traditional words are left out? That’s okay, and expected, when writing a technical resume. Formatting sentences like the one above makes it much easier for your resume reader to get the important information quickly (i.e. 6 software engineers and decreased login times by 2.7 seconds).
Be ruthless about which pieces of information you include under each experience section. Only use the most relevant ones that best demonstrate your expertise.
Make the Summary Section Personal
While it may be accurate to say you’re an IT developer with 5 years of experience, there are plenty of other candidates who fit that bill. When crafting your summary section, which sits atop your tech resume and acts as a first impression, get personal.
Instead, highlight your unique skills, experiences, and career aspirations. Here’s an example from Zety:
IT professional with over 10 years of experience specializing in IT department management for international logistics companies. I can implement effective IT strategies at local and global levels. My greatest strength is business awareness, which enables me to permanently streamline infrastructure and applications. Seeking to leverage my IT management skills at SanCorp Inc.
How much more does that stand out?
Put the Most Relevant Experiences First
You may have noticed a common thread by now when it comes to crafting tech resumes: recruiters don’t have a lot of time, so you’ll need to grab their attention quickly.
One valuable way to do this is to put your most relevant work experience at the top of your resume. This is where recruiters’ eyes will go when they glance at your resume, so give them the information that will best aid your candidacy.
If you’ve been in the workforce for a few years already, you’ll want your relevant work experience, skills, and work successes to be towards the top. However, if you’re a student or recent graduate, it’s okay to lead with academic accomplishments and project- or coursework-based skills on your tech resume instead.
Tweak Your Resume For Each Application
While it would be significantly easier to copy and paste your resume into different applications, that approach seldom works. You want to show employers you've taken the time to read their job description, learn about their company, and tailor your application accordingly.
Not all jobs require the same skills or have the same duties, even if they’re similar positions. Read job descriptions closely and use that language in your resume.
For instance, if a job opening is looking for candidates who “excel in fast-paced environments” or have “3-4+ years of HTML experience,” use that exact phrasing in your resume to catch readers’ attention.
Use Numbers Wherever You Can
Numbers stand out. I once saw a recruiter post on LinkedIn about how she goes through resumes and circles all the numbers she sees; if there are fewer than 10, she throws out the resume.
While that may be an extreme example, quantifying accomplishments on your tech resume helps recruiters understand your impact. Consider these two experience bullets:
- Implemented new social media strategy that transformed company’s presence online.
- Implemented new social media strategy that increased company’s following 3x in 2 months.
Which one is more impressive to you?
Less is More
While it's tempting to add every part about yourself and your experiences into a technical resume, this is something you really want to avoid. Keep your resume under one page. Focus on the most relevant work experience only, going no further back than five years.
If you’re a college student, there’s no need to add in your high school education. Include only your college education, relevant coursework, and other accomplishments within the last 3-4 years.
When it comes to your tech resume, less is more.
While there are quite a few guidelines to follow when building your tech resume, you should adhere to them to ensure you have the best chance of being hired for the role.
If you follow the tips above, you’ll be well on your way to getting hired for that technical position you have your eye on!
Related | From the recruiter’s perspective: Technical Recruitment: How to Attract the Right Candidates (2021)