4 IT resume tips that I gave to a former colleague, which started the ball rolling from no interview calls for 3 months to 5 calls in just 3 weeks.

#1. First page is the key

Mostly the first-page is read, and the remaining pages are scanned. My former colleague had vital information scattered throughout his 4 page resume. I asked him to move the key selling points to the first-half of the resume. First page should have a good summary and accomplishments section that sells you well without any fluffy statements. You can learn more about this at Can first page of your IT resume stand on its own? 

Selling points include:
  • Working for a brand-name company.
  • Quantified on the job accomplishments.
  • Having quantifiable sought-after skills.
  • Experience with agile practices.
  • Solving problems related to 16 technical key areas.
  • Domain knowledge.
  • Experience with mission critical and high volume systems.

#2. Target your resume based on the role and job specification 

My colleague had held a number of roles over his 10 year work experience like production support, test analyst, and business analyst. He himself was not  too sure about his next ideal role. The resume was too generic, and he was applying for a number of roles like senior BA, scrum master, technical project manager, and business project manager with a single resume. This revealed that his resume was not properly targeted. I asked him to have separate resumes targeting different roles. When you are targeting a particular role,  leave out any trivial information not related to the targeted role. More on targeted resume -- Who would you be tempted to hire -- Resume A or Resume B?

“People more often buy the best advertised product than the best product”

The same is true in marketing your personal services. If you want to market a product successfully, you must know the product. Many of you do not think in a marketing oriented way when it comes to selling your personal services.

#3. Write catchy statements with 7 key aspects

His resume listed basic tasks that he performed with lengthy phrases like "My responsibilities included ....", and did not cover the 7 aspects listed below where applicable.  Employers are more interested in the outcome of the task you performed than just providing a shopping list of tasks you had performed.

To write an effective resume, you do not have to hard sell or make any false claims, but you need to get over your shyness and unwillingness to toot your own horn. If you cannot, who can? If you are willing to take some extra effort to learn and apply some of the guidelines discussed here and be more creative in preparing your resume, then you will definitely get a better response from prospective employers than people with better credentials. So, to win an interview, you should write a resume that is:
  1. Results oriented
  2. Key areas driven
  3. Soft skills and personal attributes are captured
  4. Sought-after technologies and frameworks are mentioned
  5. Strengths are highlighted
  6. Credible
  7. Concise and well-formatted without spelling errors.

Each of this aspect was discussed in detail with lots of eye catching phrases in the book entitled "Java/JEE Resume Companion". You can use the SAR technique to construct concise statements that standout.

#4: Make sure that your resume addresses the 7C's

My colleague's initial resume failed to impress on C's 2, 4, and 6. The benchmark of a good resume is if it is getting noticed. If you are getting reasonable call backs then don't change anything drastically. Your resume is good enough to be noticed and you will eventually land a job by improving your performance at the interviews. If you aren't getting noticed at all then you need to spruce your resume by experimenting different things. Remember to verify that your resume covers the 7 C’s.

  1. Clear: Make sure that it is easy to understand. Use plain English with power words. It is worth getting someone to cast his/her eye over.
  2. Concise: Your resume is not a detailed list of your past jobs with irrelevant information, especially if you are an experienced professional. Make sure that it concentrates on your selling points in 2-4 pages. Focus on your relevant experience and accomplishments.
  3. Correct: Check your facts, spelling, and grammar. It is worth getting someone else to check. 
  4. Curiosity: Capture the curiosity of the potential employer to learn more about you in the first page itself. It should be a convenient splash page that summarizes your skills and desirability. When you write your first page, assume that the reader is either too busy to read rest of your pages or had misplaced your remaining pages. Would your first page work on its own? 
  5. Complete: Have you addressed all the criteria to sell you as a well rounded PHP professional as opposed as just a techie? Make sure that soft skills (i.e. non-technical skills) are mentioned as well. For example, if you are applying for an architect role, emphasize that you are a big picture person who is interested in how things fit in with the whole organization
  6. Convincing: Do not just say that “I am an excellent leader”. It is more convincing to say that “Led a team of 15 developers, analysts, and outside consultants to implement an online insurance system with a budget of $3.5 million that interfaces with other legacy systems.” This will not only have more credibility, but also gives the employer a reason to ask follow-up questions in an interview. So, focus more on what you actually accomplished rather than what your responsibilities were. 
  7. Courteous: How would you feel if you read the resume? Do not come cross as an individual who is disrespectful, vulgar, or someone with “I know it all” attitude. Also, do not come across as self centered with “I” and I’m.  

Do you feel confident and good about your current IT resume? If you might not think so now, apply the above 4 tips and see what happens. I gave my colleague a sample resume of mine
Programmer full sample Resume -- Java programmer example, and gave him these 4 tips. His revised resume is getting better responses from the recruitment agents and prospective employers.

Bonus Tip #5

Another piece of vital advice that I gave him was that if he was responding only to advertised positions, he is only tapping into the 30 to 40 percent of the market, and this avenue is highly competitive.  7 Hidden job hunting avenues that will give you a better chance of securing your next IT job

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