When searching through resumes for just one or two open positions, employers will typically spend only ten to twenty seconds looking at the bare essentials of piles and piles of resumes. What are they looking for? Experience. Not necessarily lots of it, but the kind relevant to the position you’re applying for.
The best thing for any applicant to do while putting together their resume is to think like a hiring manager: is all the pertinent information they need readily visible and easy to understand just by glancing at your resume? If the answer is yes, then you’re off to a good start. If you hesitated to say yes or answered no, then it’s back to the drawing board.
The most effective way to list your technical skills is to have a separate section on your resume specifically titled ''Technical Skills'' or ''Technical Summary.'' That way there’s no mistaking where the hiring manager’s eyes will go as soon as they come across your resume.
It may also behoove you to include subcategories depending on the kind of position you are applying for. If software writing is an essential skill for the position but you also need to demonstrate mastery of a large number of applications or programs, list them in a subcategory. These may also include experience with networking, operations, programming, database applications, protocols, hardware, and certifications. Be careful to only include those you know really well and will be able to discuss thoroughly if asked. Remember, everything on your resume is fair game during the interview and the thin line between embellishment and lying can kill your chances of getting hired if it is crossed.
There are other pitfalls which are common to the skills section of your resume, namely being overly detailed or pedantic in listing every possible skill you may have acquired over the years, even when some or most are already implied by your work history. Be detailed but concise and make sure you aren’t including things just for the sake of length or to stuff up your resume beyond its actual weight.
Of course, most hiring managers will also be interested in your professional experience, especially if you’re applying for an upper-level job which requires a lot of experience. If this is the case, be sure to play up both the quantity and quality of your experience, emphasizing ‘soft’ skills as much as your technical expertise. Soft skills are those which deal with communication and teamwork in the professional world. Are you a team player? Have you led any important company projects? Do others consider you the go-to guy or gal for solutions? Be sure that these skills are adequately explained and paint a portrait of you which clearly shows that you’re capable of more than operating a keyboard and a mouse.
Every job you’ve had which relates to the one you’re applying for should be included on the resume. Aside from providing a brief description of what your primary duties were, explain your major achievements on that job. Also provide brief descriptions of skills gained or enhanced capabilities which may have resulted from your work. Growth is vital to every successful professional career and managers need to know that you’re willing to learn and expand upon what you bring to the company on day one.
If you’re new to the tech industry and are just looking to get your foot in the door, you might want to start by accepting contract work which is often easier to procure. Also, internships and technical service jobs can be great launching pads for your career if they relate to what you want to do in the future. Academic work during school, including major projects or extracurricular endeavors in technology also indicates to potential employers what you are capable of, especially in terms of vision, diligence, and innovation.