Is your IT resume up to date and relevant to the current job market? Are you taking advantage of the latest strategies for getting your resume to the top of the pile? How does your resume stack up against those of fellow IT pros?
If you're not confident your resume is fit for purpose, Myticas has written numerous articles to help you improve it.
This specific article looks at 6 common ways resumes let candidates down and, more importantly, how to fix them.
A lack of punch
Your resume may not be as thrilling as a best-selling novel, but you should make it interesting enough to have an impact on the reader's memory. One of the most effective ways of achieving this is to use the active voice.
This is often simply the case of rearranging your sentences to put you, the subject, in front of the verb (action word) and object. For example, switching the phrase, '50% cost savings were realized after our team re-coded the admin dashboard' could be rewritten as, 'My fellow team members and I saved the company 50% on admin costs by re-coding the admin dashboard.'
See how the second phrase puts you at the heart of the success.
Using the same words over and over again in your resume is another way of draining away its impact. Rather than repeating you 'achieved success' with x, y, and z, you could write you 'delivered positive outcomes' or 'met the demanding brief.' A thesaurus can be a handy resource if you need to extend your vocabulary.
Style over substance
While a colorful, image-heavy resume can catch the eye, there are two ways in which it could actually harm your chances of landing your dream job.
Most employers make use of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) which include a basic screening program. This is even more likely the further up the career ladder you climb. Where a human sees appealing colors and striking images, a screening algorithm sees an irrelevant stream of markup language. Unable to parse this text, the ATS is likely to automatically reject your resume, so it never reaches a living person.
If you are confident you are sending your resume directly to a human, it still has to showcase your skills and how they are relevant to the job advertised. Too much attention to graphics and layout can send the message that you are more about appearance than results.
Of course, this caution may not apply if you are competing for a role where design is paramount (graphic design, digital artist, etc.)
Some candidates hide behind their hard skills and credentials to such an extent they disappear as an individual. While it is important to highlight your technical abilities and qualifications, especially if they are essential for the role, the employer wants to understand who you are.
You could be the most proficient coder in the world, but if you can't communicate with team members or you have no interest in meeting deadlines or budgets, you will be of no use to a profit-making company. Be sure to talk about your soft skills and personal abilities, linking these with real world outcomes in previous roles or life experiences.
Read through your resume while asking yourself, 'Am I visible in this?' A supportive friend or family member can often help with this.
Too much personality
Some candidates think that they can paper over any cracks in their skills and achievements through sheer force of personality. They emphasize their leading role in every situation and may even take personal credit for team results.
Most employers and recruiters can see straight through this facade. Unless the claims are supported by clear evidence, they will assume you are overselling yourself. Even if you are a high performer, ignoring the contribution of others will have employers worrying about your ability to work within a team.
Look through your resume for an overuse of the 'I' pronoun. Balance your confidence with a healthy dose of humility.
Out of date content
A common issue with the resumes of more experienced IT pros is a lack of recent activity.
If you have been content in a busy role, you might not have taken any courses or secondments for years. When circumstances change, you suddenly find that you have no recent achievements to back up your skills.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can quickly spruce up your barren resume:
First, you can go for depth rather then breadth. Employers love to see real evidence of impact, and your experience will be a rich mine of tangible examples to highlight your skills.
Second, if you haven't set up a LinkedIn profile, now is the time to do it. As an experienced IT pro, you likely have a large professional network. It should take you no time at all to exchange endorsements. Adding your LinkedIn URL to your resume is common practice in the modern marketplace.
Third, there are many flexible online courses and workshops that you can access in your own time. You should prioritize those that are directly relevant to your desired role, but any industry-recognized certifications or qualifications will send a potential employee the message that you are actively engaged in your field.
A great resume is clear in both layout and sentence structure. Some candidates sabotage their efforts by writing in a 'stream of consciousness' style, putting down whatever comes into their mind.
This is fine for a rough draft, but your finished resume has to conform to expected style and grammar. How long are your sentences? A common faux pax is to write long, descriptive sentences in the hope that this will impress the reader. A resume is not a creative writing contest! A good rule of thumb is to make one point per sentence. For example, when showcasing your skills, explain what you did, what the results were and why that is relevant to the advertized role.
If you are not confident about how to lay out your resume, browse some example templates until you find one you like.
Once you've attended to the 6 points above, make sure you check out our other resume-related articles. We can help you make the most of your hard and soft skills, tailor your resume based on your experience level, and ensure you beat the Applicant Tracking System. The team at Myticas hopes to help you with your next career jump in the IT sector.