Are you are fresh out of college graduate, looking to land an entry-level position, or a seasoned IT professional, seeking promotion or a return to work? Either way, you are going to need to have an effective, up-to-date resume on file.
Employers will have different expectations and make different judgements about you based on your experience level. This should affect how you approach writing your resume.
Writing a resume as a newly qualified candidate
From an employer's perspective, there are both pros and cons to hiring a newly qualified IT graduate. On the plus side, they will expect you to have relevant, up-to-date knowledge and be highly motivated. You are also going to be more affordable than someone with years under their belt. On the negative side, you will lack experience in applying your knowledge and skills in a work environment.
Therefore, when an employer reads your resume, they will be interested in finding proof that you have had a chance to pick up and, most importantly, use skills that are relevant to the workplace.
When writing your resume, you have the choice of three basic formats: chronological, functional and combined. We recommend you opt for either the functional or combined formats because both of these prioritise work-relevant skills over experience.
Whenever you send a resume to an employer, it should be tailored to the role you are applying for, and an entry level position is no exception. Therefore, your first task is to study the job description closely, noting down important keywords; essential skills and qualifications and desirable skills and qualifications. If you do not meet the essential criteria, you should not apply for the role as you will be wasting everybody's time.
Next, look into your life history for evidence that you have the skills and qualifications requested. For desirable attributes you don't have, try to find an alternative. For example, if the job description lists 'SharePoint' as a desirable qualification, putting down that you are a Slack Certified Administrator is likely to be seen as equivalent. If you are in doubt about whether to include a skill or qualification, ask yourself whether you could explain its relevance in an interview.
Rather than listing your skills, or writing generic sentences, use an experience from your past to evidence how you demonstrated that skill in a real world context. For example, which sounds better?
- I am a skilled Java programmer and work well in a team, or
- I took part in a Google Hash Code Java project with three other programmers, and we made it through to the finals.
You can take examples from your academic work, extra-curricular activities, hobbies or even personal life.
Give three to four examples, incorporating the main keywords from the job description (for the purpose of passing ATS screening software).
Introduce your resume with a summary statement. This should be one to two sentences long and summarize the main two to three skills and qualifications you have detailed below.
As with all resumes, you will need to include your contact information and, where requested, a cover letter and references.
Refreshing a resume as a highly experienced candidate
Employers will weigh up different pros and cons when considering hiring a highly experienced IT professional. They will assume you have plenty of workplace experience but they may need extra proof that you have kept up to date with the latest tech and best practice. They will also be interested to read about your motivation for applying. Since you are likely to be a more expensive hire, the stakes will be a lot higher.
If you haven't touched your resume in a while, you may benefit from starting from scratch. Otherwise, you may just need to check and tweak the details.
Either way, you are best using the chronological resume format since this will immediately highlight your wealth of experience.
Otherwise, follow the same guidance as for a newly qualified candidate. You should have a much deeper pool of examples to choose from for every skill and attribute you need to evidence.
In addition, we recommend you:
- Avoid drawing attention to your age or the actual number of years you have worked in the industry. Unfortunately, there is ageism in the workplace and your list of roles and employers, together with dates, will be sufficient to highlight your experience.
- Consider grouping early jobs together under an 'early career' section unless there is a high profile employer or role you want to draw attention to.
- When writing your summary statement, highlight your enthusiasm for the role, and explain what excites you about the opportunity.
By tailoring your resume to best showcase your strengths, while mitigating your weaknesses, you will stand the best chance of making it to interview. Good luck! The team at Myticas hopes to help you with taking your next career jump in the IT sector.