IT resume formats

What to Cut from Your Tech Resume: Experience

Tech professionals don’t have to heed the same 1-page resume rule that most other professionals do. IT recruiters and hiring managers are usually a lot more permissive of longer resumes. This doesn’t mean that you want to submit novellas, though. To land a new job, you need to be able to show some restraint and edit your resume down to something more concise. Here’s how to edit your experience.

Cut anything over 10-ish years.  There are certainly exceptions to this rule, but in general, you won’t need anything over 10 years.  Since technologies change so frequently, you’ll be discussing technologies and skills that may be completely irrelevant to the roles you’re applying to.  Don’t waste space on your resume talking about obsolete technologies you’ve used.  Keep that space open to talk about your more recent jobs!

Focus on the jobs you’ve done in the last 5 years.  This is true for anyone, no matter how much experience you have on your resume.  Technical recruiters sometimes see resumes with equal bullets dedicated to each and every job.  That’s not only unnecessary; it actually may hurt the overall effectiveness of your resume.  Your resume should help a hiring manager imagine you in their open role.  The most recent jobs are likely the ones that have prepared you to do this kind of work.  Detail out what you achieved in your last few roles, the technologies you used, and how you contributed to your team/company.  Giving this kind of crucial information is what helps you land great IT jobs.

Cut any irrelevant experience.  If you worked a job in a completely different industry, don’t worry about adding it into your resume.  You only want it there if you need to account for your career in the last 5 years.  Even then, if you need to have the job on your resume, just list it and the years or months you worked.  IT recruiting agencies would suggest that you never waste bullets on irrelevant experience.

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Don’t leave any experience over 10 years on your resume. Photo credit: naturalpastels via Pixabay.

Should You Use Resume Gimmicks?

If you’re an IT professional searching for your next job, you probably want to steer clear of any resume gimmicks.  We’ve all heard or read about tricks that make your resume “stand out” to IT recruiters or hiring managers.  Maybe it’s sending your resume in hard copy, using a creative, flashy format, or any number of other unconventional ideas.  The problem is that resume gimmicks are usually terrible ideas that will actually seriously hurt your credibility with IT staffing companies and employers.  The one exception to this rule is if you’re formatting to show off artistic skills that are relevant to the job listing.  Graphic designers, UX/UI developers, and similar roles can often benefit from a resume that’s formatted with aesthetic creativity.  For everyone else in tech, though, here’s why you need to create the standard, conventional resume if you want to land great IT jobs.

  1. Resume gimmicks make your resume look even more generic. Ideally, IT staffing firms suggest that you tailor your resume to every job you’re applying to.  This shows a real interest in the role, the work, the company, or all three.  Tech employers are notorious for asking technical recruiters to help find candidates who are passionate about the work they do, their company culture, etc.  When you offer a gimmicky resume, it doesn’t help make your resume look like you’ve tailored it to the role, and thus can lead employers to think there’ s a lack of passion for the position, technologies, company culture, etc.  Often people will mass produce and send out gimmicky resumes.  Gimmicks are rarely tailored to the employer.  Based on this pattern, you’ve already potentially taken yourself down a few notches in the employer’s eye.
  1. Resume gimmicks make it harder for employer and IT recruiting agencies to see exactly what skills, experience, and technologies you have. Most tech positions require that you have certain technologies, skills, etc.  Not having them can be a huge problem and seriously impede your ability to handle the workload.  For this reason, the strongest resumes cleanly lay out what skills or technologies the candidate has and how they’ve applied in them in previous positions.  Don’t distract IT recruiters or employers with something flashy and irrelevant, like an unconventional format.  You also don’t want to take space away from achieving this goal.  Often, these gimmicky resumes require extra space for graphics—space that you could be using to show off your technical acumen.  You don’t want to hurt your chances for landing a job because an employer sees your funky resume, but isn’t sure you have hands-on experience with a certain programming language or web platform.
  1. Resume gimmicks make it seem like you’re trying to hide something. Often the people who use gimmicky resumes do so because they’re not confident in their experience or technical skills.  Rightly or wrongly, some supspicious hiring managers will nix a resume just because it’s gimmicky-looking.  Particularly in tech, where positions are so imperative to a company’s success and salaries are higher, a manager can’t risk making a bad hiring decision.  It’s just too expensive.  Don’t risk being rejected just because your gimmicky resume set off a suspicious hiring manager’s radar!  Create a simple, straight-forward resume that shows why you’re ready to contribute to an employer.

Want to see our open IT jobs?  Follow us on LinkedIn.  We post new jobs daily!

Resume tips
Will a flashy format land you the tech job? Photo credit: freeGraphicToday via Pixabay.


Q and A about Jumpiness in Tech Resumes

When you’re working in the tech field, there’s a lot of temptation to jump around from job to job.  Between IT recruiters who reach out to passive candidates, new roles that offer hands-on experience with hot new technologies, and employers who offer roles with big pay raises, it can be hard to stay loyal and stick with your IT jobs for the expected 1, 2, or more years.  As a general rule, It’s important to avoid all of this temptation, though and try to maintain some decently long stints at each employer you work at. Here are some common questions and answers that IT staffing firms often get asked about about jumpiness in a tech career.

Is there ever a time when jumpiness is ok for IT professionals?   Especially in tech there are times when some jumpiness is completely acceptable.  Contracting is the most obvious example.  IT recruiting agencies find that hiring managers don’t mind a couple of years of contracting in a resume.  This can be pretty normal for the field and can certainly help as you begin your career or seek out experience with new technologies.  Additionally, it’s also fine to have shorter stints at jobs for the usual reasons: a company is acquired or you must move to a different part of the country.

Why is jumpiness a problem on a tech resume, then? Employers in the tech field have a few reasons why they prefer to hire candidates with long, solid stays at most (if not all) their jobs.  Firstly, many tech roles are well-paid.  This means that a company needs to make a good investment and hire a candidate who’s reliable, prepared, and ready to make some big contributions.  Losing candidates every six months, even sometimes every year, can be a bad investment for an employer.  It’s hard to contribute a lot to the company when you’re not around long enough!  It’s also hard to rely on a candidate when employers are constantly concerned they’ll be leaving for new opportunity with a higher salary, fresher technologies, etc.

Another reason employers don’t want to hire people with excessively jumpy resumes is related to training.  Many tech roles require in-depth training for candidates to really contribute to the workload.  There’s a ramp-up period that can’t be avoided.  Due to this ramp-up period, employers don’t want to hire IT professionals who won’t stick around for a long time.  They don’t want to be training a new person, and thus losing time and productivity, every six months, year, etc.

The last reason tech employers want to see less jumpiness in a resume is that long stays at a company can indicate more experience with long-term projects.  Long-term, organizational projects can take years.  If you’ve never been any place longer than a few months, you haven’t been able to participate in one of these kinds of projects from start to finish (or even close to it).

How do you polish jumpiness in your own resume so it’s appealing to technical recruiters and hiring managers? If you have the kind of jumpiness that’s acceptable, make sure to indicate the reasons why you left jobs. Did you leave a job after 3 months because the company was acquired?  Write that as your last bullet.  Keep it brief and professional.  A long bullet with a sob story won’t help market you to employers.  In fact, it will likely hurt you.

If you have a rash of contracting jobs in your career, make the bullets in each of them great.  Show off your contributions and professional achievements. You want employers to see that even though you weren’t at a company long, you added value while you were there. 

IT resume tips
Jumpiness in a tech resume won’t always land you the job. Photo credit: Pexels via Pixabay.


2 Easy Ways to Improve your Technical Resume

There’s no getting around it: creating a good resume is a pain. IT recruiting firms never find that candidates enjoy the process.  Some will even ask if they can avoid updating theirs.  (If you’re serious about landing new IT jobs, you can’t.)  Technical resumes can be especially arduous to write.  You need to explain your previous jobs in enough detail to impress technical recruiters, but also avoid giving so much that your resume becomes unreadable to hiring managers who aren’t as tech savvy. Here are two easy ways to make sure you share your best resume with IT staffing companies and hiring managers.

1. Make sure your Technical Proficiencies section is complete and honest.  You want this section to be up to date with all the skills you can claim a real competence in.  Make sure not to leave any skills out.  As IT recruiters or hiring managers scan your resume for certain technologies or skills, you wouldn’t want them to move on because they were missing. The same is true for ATS’s (applicant tracking systems) and searches within big recruiting sites.  Including important keywords will make sure your resume is seen by search engines and software used in the hiring process.

On the flip side, it’s also important not to add in skills or technologies that you can’t claim a real competence with.  If you’ve only had slight exposure to a certain technology, don’t include it.  You don’t want to find your way into an interview where you can’t answer questions about a technology, complete a coding test, or fail a whiteboarding session miserably.  You’ll quickly ruin your reputation with employers and IT recruiting firms if you falsely represent yourself as having certain technical experience and skills.

2. Elaborate on how you used the skills and technologies mentioned in your Technical Proficiencies section within the bullets for your jobs.  This part is just as important, if not more so.  Technically adept hiring managers and technical recruiters want to see how you used a technology at previous jobs.  Make sure to dedicate at least one bullet per technology or skill.  Even if they’re scattered throughout your career history, they’ll still help managers see that you’re prepared to apply the skills you list in your Technical Proficiencies section in their open roles.

Tips for IT resumes
Try these tips to make your resume more appealing to IT recruiters and hiring managers. Photo credit: vloveland via Pixabay

A Checklist for Writing Your Best IT Resume

Job hunting in the tech industry can differ from any industry.  As an IT job seeker, your search is affected by things like technical jargon, the tools hiring managers use, and the speed at which technologies change and projects become irrelevant.  If you’re serious about looking for new IT jobs, you want a resume tailored to this industry and the needs of the hiring managers in it.  Here’s a quick checklist that IT recruiters suggest using as you complete your resume.  This list will make sure your resume is especially appealing to hiring managers in the tech space and technical recruiters.

1. Does your resume match up with your LinkedIn profile? Especially within the tech space, IT staffing companies and hiring managers use LinkedIn as part of their hiring process.  If your resume doesn’t basically match up with your LinkedIn profile, it’s time to fix that.  You especially want to avoid making it seem like you’re hiding anything or lying about anything in your career history or skill-set.  Appearing dishonest is the fastest way to be blacklisted with IT recruiting firms and employers.

2. Is your resume full of quantifiable, concrete, professional achievements?  The bullets under each job should be taken up with statements like ‘Improved network downtime by 25%.’  Or ‘Increased web traffic by 50%.’  Hiring managers are more likely to pick people who they can picture working with their team and contributing to their company’s goals.  This is especially true in tech, where the salaries are higher and a bad hire can cost a lot.  Nobody wants to be the manager who hires a programmer who can’t code fast enough or the network architect who designed a faulty network.  Make it easier for hiring managers to picture you succeeding in their open roles.  List the concrete contributions you made at previous employers, using numbers and percentages whenever you can.

4. Is your resume easy to read?  Did you focus on your last 10-15 years of experience?  Did you use a simple font with basic, even spacing?  Did you use a conventional resume format, or a ‘creative one’ that might require some extra time to figure out?  Did you forgo giving every single technical detail of your work at every previous job?  Keep in mind that IT recruiting agencies and hiring managers don’t have much time to pore over every line of your resume.  In fact, if you apply with a resume that’s crammed to the gills with lots of technical details for 7 pages, or provide a resume that’s in a ‘creative format’, you might just be taking yourself out of the running for a job right off the bat. Make your resume easy to read and keep it brief and efficient.  If your experience is a good fit, you can give more detail in a phone or in-person interview.


IT resumes
You’ll land more IT jobs if your resume ticks off every box. Photo credit: TeroVesalainen via Pixabay.


Have Gaps on Your Technical Resume? How to Handle Them

People in most fields are uncomfortable with gaps in their resumes.  IT recruiting firms find that if you can handle them correctly, though, these won’t hurt your chances of landing IT jobs.  Here are some of the basics that IT recruiters think you should know about gaps on technical resumes.

1. Small gaps are not a problem. Especially in the tech field, where contracting and project-based work are pretty common, gaps of 3 months or less aren’t a huge deal.  Layoffs happen, contracts end, and interview processes can certainly drag out the time between unemployment to being hired.  IT staffing firms won’t bat an eye at a gap or two between contracts on your resume.

2. A gap beyond 6 months will require more explanation. IT recruiting agencies find that employers will be more concerned with an unemployment gap of 6 months or more.  This is at least in part because there’s such a dearth of qualified IT professionals to fill the open jobs in pretty much all of the US.  The unemployment rate for tech professionals is notoriously low- lower than the national average.  In January, the tech unemployment rate was only 2.9 percent, while the national average was closer to 4.7 percent.  If you’re not getting hired for a job after 6 months, employers wonder if the problem may be you, not the market! If you have a gap like this, make sure to address it your resume.  Give a brief, professional reason why you were unemployed.  Did you take time off to take care of a member of your family, raise a young child?  Have a health issue yourself?  Take time off to go to school?  These are all the kinds of reasons that technical recruiters find will not scare off potential employers. Make sure to note this on your resume!

3. Make the most of your gaps. If you’re unemployed for a longer period of time and are not encumbered by responsibilities to your family, health issues, etc, you should take this time to keep your skills sharp.  Do a side project on your own. Volunteer to do work for a local charity or non-profit.  Get a certification.  Learn a new technical skill.  IT staffing companies find that if you can do things like this with your gap, you’ll be much more appealing to employers.  After all, technologies change at lightning speed.  You want to stay in the game and stay sharp so you’re ready to hit the ground running when you do land a new role!

Want to see our open IT jobs?  Follow us on LinkedIn.  We post new jobs daily!

Gaps on technical resumes
Got gaps shorter than 3 months? Don’t worry about it! Photo credit: Aitoff via Pixabay.


What Makes IT Resumes Different?

If you’re looking for new IT jobs, your first step should be to update your resume for IT recruiters and employers.  As an IT professional, your resume will be a bit different from resumes in other industries.  Here are some key elements of IT resumes.

The technical skills section. This is one of the most important features of a resume for IT staffing companies.  It helps them decide quickly if you have the skills to be a possible fit for an open job.  Make sure to put this section right at the top of your resume and keep it thorough, organized, and updated. The best technical skills section is a snapshot of the technologies and skills you’ll be talking about in your employment history below.  It’s important to make sure you only add skills to this section that you are 100% confident you actually have.  Technical interviews will often quickly reveal it if you lack something you’ve mentioned in the technical skills section.  If an interviewer finds you ‘fudged it’ and included something you can’t actually back up, you won’t get the job (and your technical recruiters probably won’t want to work with you anymore, either).

You have more leeway to go beyond 1 page. IT recruiting companies find that employers in the tech field are a bit more lenient with the length of resumes.  While you don’t want to write a novel, if you have a great arsenal of technical skills and experience, it’s ok if you need a bit of extra room to elaborate.  Technical resumes have some extra sections (like the one mentioned above).Another reason you can write a longer technical resume is that hiring managers do want to see details about the projects you’ve worked on.  IT staffing agencies find that when you give better detail on the technical projects you’ve done, employers have an easier time picturing you performing the role they’re hiring for.

Contract work is more accepted and more common. Many IT professionals use contracting as a legitimate way to gain skills and exposure to new technologies.  Since technology is always changing so quickly, it can become necessary to move faster from company to company to get exposure to new technologies at a more compatible rate.  Contracting is also just a more common way for managers to hire in the tech field.  IT recruiting firms find that sometimes employers only need contractors to finish a particular project. Perhaps a company can’t afford to hire somebody with a rare skill-set permanently. Just make sure to mark when a position is contract on your resume, so people know you didn’t leave early or were fired.


Tech resumes different
Tech resumes have some key differences. Photo credit: 3dman_eu via Pixabay


How To Write a Good Resume (Even with Employment Gaps)

When you’re searching for new IT jobs, the most powerful tool you have is your resume.  Even the best IT recruiting firms can’t land you a job if your resume is terrible.  Here’s one mistake that can really ruin a good resume: a poorly handled gap between jobs.

Having a gap between jobs isn’t the end of the world.  IT staffing companies come across a fair share of candidates who might have a gap somewhere in their career.  The problem occurs when you either don’t provide any explanation at all, you lie to cover it up, or you give too much detail.  Here’s how to avoid these pitfalls when you write a resume.

1.    Too Little Info: Technical recruiters find that some candidates really do just leave a gap on their resume completely unexplained.  Especially if this gap is more than a few months, you’ll raise red flags with IT recruiters and potential employers.  While it might seem like listing the gap and giving an explanation brings too much attention to it, it’s actually the opposite.   Not listing the gap at all brings far more attention—negative attention.  Simply list a gap that’s over a month in the same format as a job.  Give a one-sentence explanation of what occurred.  It’s perfectly fine to say you moved, took time to care for a sick family member, took time for maternity or paternity leave, etc.  If you were unemployed, list relevant courses or volunteering you did during your gap.

2.    Too much Info: On the opposite end of spectrum, IT staffing firms suggest that you don’t list extensive details about what you did during your gap.  It will almost certainly look unprofessional if you can’t sum up this time in a sentence or two at most.  Sometimes IT recruiting agencies see people marking out employment gaps for childcare or some other kind of caretaking as though it were a job.  They might list coordinating doctors’ appointments, managing medications, etc as ‘job duties’.  Don’t do this.  This always comes across as tone deaf and makes employers and IT staffing agencies uncomfortable.  Even though you may feel that what you did has created applicable experience to the roles you want, you’ll be violating professional norms.

3.  Inaccurate Info: Never lie to cover a large employment gap.  Sometimes IT recruiters find that candidates will make up a job, extend the dates of a job beyond when they were really there, or do other dishonest things.  Even if your technical recruiters don’t find the lie here, employers may find it.  Lying on your resume is the quickest way to lose a job.  Even if you do land the job, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media are making the world a very small place.  You don’t want somebody to find out through the digital grapevine that you lied on your resume.  You may get fired for it!


If you have gap in your resume for childcare, don’t forget to note it! Photo credit: miapowterr via Pixabay.


Is Your Resume in The Wrong Format?

Technical recruiters receive resumes from IT professionals that are built from all kinds of resume templates.  Most resume templates are fine (even the free resume templates), but there is one type of format that IT recruiters usually cannot use: a functional format resume.

What is a functional format resume?  It’s a resume that shows IT recruiting agencies and hiring managers your skills and duties and the top or bottom of the resume and lists your past IT jobs in a separate section.  Sometimes IT staffing firms find that the candidate will list the years they held positions, sometimes not.  Basically, this format seems like an easy way to write a resume if you’ve held similar positions for a while.

The problem is that the IT recruiting companies usually can’t submit you for IT jobs with this kind of resume.  There are a few things hiring managers and recruiters hate about this resume template.  Firstly, hiring managers tell IT staffing agencies that these templates don’t show the progression of your career very well.  To truly understand how you’ve progressed in your career, a manager wants to see the variation in your duties at each job.  That means you’ll need to list what you did at each job, not just give a general notion of what you did at all jobs in one spot at the top or bottom of the document.

Secondly, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage by using a functional format resume.  This kind of resume format doesn’t really let you list your major professional achievements.  IT recruiting firms find that the candidates who really impress employers are the ones who list their big contributions to each employer.  This will require a little more work on your part and a more traditional format for a resume, but it’s worth it.  This kind of resume lets hiring managers and IT staffing companies really see that you’ve been a valuable employee to each one of the places you’ve worked.

Lastly, resumes like this make hiring managers and IT recruiters feel like you’re trying to hide something.  Particularly when you don’t give dates, it can look like you’re trying to quickly gloss over your professional history without giving much detail or information.  This isn’t the first impression you want your resume to give anybody.


resume format IT jobs
Writing a functional format resume may be easier, but it won’t get you further in your job search. Photo credit: Line-tOodLinGfc via Pixabay.


2 Seemingly Small Things That Hurt Your Job Search

Sometimes IT recruiters find that candidates make mistakes that seem small, but actually have a big impact on their job search.  Here are two mistakes that seem pretty insignificant, but will likely make it hard to land IT jobs.

1.    Your email signature has an inflammatory or unprofessional quote. IT recruiting companies do find that from time to time people will have quotes in their email signatures.  This looks pretty innocuous, but it becomes a problem when the quote is about controversial things like politics, religion, or is just plain rude or unprofessional.  When you email with IT recruiting agencies and hiring managers, they know very little about you.  For this reason, your emails wind up making a big impression on the IT staffing firms and interviewers you send them to.  So to make sure you’re doing your best job search: take out all the quotes in your email signature.  Don’t risk either making technical recruiters uncomfortable or leading them to possibly conclude anything negative about you.

2.    Did you leave track changes on the resume you sent to your IT recruiting firms?  Some IT recruiters will look the other way.  However, to some IT staffing agencies, this is a sign that you aren’t very detail-oriented or polished.  Considering how important it is in the tech field to pay attention to little details, making this mistake could send a bad message about you.  There’s also a chance that you’ll wind up leaving some unflattering, negative, or unprofessional material on your resume if you don’t turn off the track changes function.  Maybe one of the comments on your resume suggests that you not add a certain technology because you’re weak in it.  Perhaps a comment has a curse word in it.   Double check to make sure that the track changes function is off and that you’ve made all the changes you need to for your resume to sparkle.


IT job search mistakes
Hold off on the quotes in your email. It could hurt your IT job search. Photo credit: maialisa via Pixabay.