Main image of article 5 Tips for Tweaking Your Tech Résumé for the Job Hunt

Many technologists use the new year—or even the beginning of a new quarter—as an excuse to polish their resume, cover letter, and application materials. Even in the midst of much economic uncertainty, keep in mind that the current tech unemployment rate is low, and you never know when an opportunity might quickly pop up. How can you best prepare your resume?

Match the Skills and Keywords

Any professional who’s spent time searching for a job knows it’s important to tailor your resume and other application materials to the specific job. Read the job posting and note the listed skills (both technical and soft skills such as communication and teamwork); make sure your resume features those skills, which will help it pass through the automated systems that scan for certain keywords. 

Your space on your resume is precious, and so include only relevant skills and experience. In the education section, for instance, feel free to leave off your high school experience (unless it’s insanely relevant). You might be proud of knowing a particular framework or new language, but unless it’ll help you stand out, leave it out.

Show Your Results

In the experience section of your resume, it’s likewise important to show the results of your work. Did your app streamline the company’s operations or boost revenue? Did your cybersecurity work avert a major attack on your previous employer? Whatever it is, list it (and make sure to quantify your victories with stats whenever possible). You should also reserve a line or two to emphasizing how your interpersonal skills and teamwork helped your projects succeed—an important detail to prospective bosses who want to know how well you’ll work with a team.

Yes, You’re Flexible

We’re in a new era of hybrid work. During the pandemic, companies had to embrace all-remote work… but now many are opening their offices again, and asking employees to return for a few days per week. Sometimes, companies’ work policies can change on seemingly a quarter-by-quarter basis.

Whatever an organization’s setup, managers and recruiters are concerned about candidates’ ability to handle remote and hybrid work, so you’ll have to use your resume and application materials to show you’re comfortable with pretty much any kind of environment.

How do you do that? Use a line or two of your resume to describe how you accomplished a substantial company goal by working from home, and/or how you effectively collaborated with your team while working remotely. In your application materials, suggest you’re comfortable with remote and hybrid work (and the tools involved in that work, such as Slack and Teams).

Keep It Concise

Yes, tech unemployment is low at the moment, and companies everywhere are scrambling to secure the tech talent they’ll need to enact their strategies for this year and beyond. However, recruiters and hiring managers will still spend a relatively short amount of time on each resume before moving to the next candidate. When in doubt, keep things concise; if you’re a technologist with decades of experience under your belt, it’s okay to discard your oldest jobs and outdated skills. 

“Craft something you’d like to read,” Tara Goodfellow, Managing Director at Athena Education Consultants, once suggested to Dice. “Don’t fill it with so much fluff you can’t even figure out what the actual responsibilities were. It should be balanced with outcomes and key points of your job.”

When you write a resume, it’s also critical that it’s easy to read. That means a reasonable number of bullet points within each section, a standard font size and type, and a focus on conveying information as simply as possible. Don’t “overstuff” your header with too much information, aside from must-have elements such as your phone number and email address. Restrain yourself from including graphics or being too “innovative” in your layout and design: at best, it may distract a recruiter or hiring manager, and at worst, it might even get your resume rejected by automated screening software. Speaking of which…

Don’t Over-Optimize

If you suspect that an automated system will scan your resume first, it might be tempting to jam as many buzzwords and keywords and skills in there as possible—anything to get you in front of a human being, right? Except there’s such a thing as over-optimization; too many keywords, or application materials that mirror the job description too closely, may trigger a red flag.

Remember, automated software is slowly but surely getting better at reading context; you want your experience sections to tell a clear, concise story of who you are and what you can do for a prospective employer. Use keywords, write out acronyms on first mention, and list your relevant skills and jobs, but make sure you’re writing for a human being, not a machine. Recruiters and hiring managers will appreciate that. 


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