Having a great résumé is the key to landing more interviews and the network administrator job of your dreams. However, with the definition of the network changing for many organizations, the role and skillsets for network administrators are evolving faster than ever before.
In this guide, we’ll cover the major steps to creating an effective network administrator résumé—and some things hiring managers look for to find a network administrator who can thrive in dynamic environments.
First, What Does a Network Administrator Do?
First and foremost, network administrators ensure that networks stay up and running, and incorporate any new technologies that will boost security and efficiency. There are currently 503,319 network admins employed in the U.S., and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects roughly 23,900 openings for network and computer systems administrators annually over the next 10 years.
Becoming an effective network administrator requires a mix of technical, “soft,” and problem-solving skills. Not only must network administrators understand the technology powering their networks; they must communicate strategies and issues to a range of stakeholders, including executives, software developers, third-party vendors, and more.
As the network administrator gains experience, they’ll need to effectively break down their skills and background in their resume and other application materials; if you can demonstrate that you’re an effective specialist, you stand a much greater chance of landing a great gig.
Characteristics of a Well-Written Network Administrator Résumé
As you study job descriptions and brainstorm the skills, project experience and keywords to include in your résumé, remember that behind every accomplishment or successful project lies an important backstory.
“Focusing your résumé on traditional technical skills won’t set you apart from other network administrators with similar results,” noted Jennifer Hay, certified résumé writer, career coach and founder of IT Résumé Service.
The best résumés tell compelling before-and-after stories and provide conversation points and examples to bring up in interviews. Stories connect your actions and decisions to business and technical value and add dimension and depth to your résumé, Hay continued.
Instead of simply listing your capabilities, ask yourself these essential questions to weave your experience and qualifications into a story:
- What were the challenges you faced, and how did you use critical skills to solve them?
- Who did you collaborate with, what were the team dynamics, and what happened?
- How did your actions help?
- What were the lessons learned, and how did you share them with others?
For example, describing how you learned to manage network security and performance to accommodate remote or hybrid work is a great way to demonstrate adaptability, demand forecasting and collaborative problem solving. It’s also a great way to showcase experience with modern tools, networking components and architecture models such as unified endpoint management, virtual desktop infrastructure, zero trust security models, remote gateway hardware and so forth. Or perhaps you were instrumental in implementing edge computing to handle the explosive growth of Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Every network administrator has a story worth sharing.
In addition to overseeing the health of the infrastructure and performing network monitoring and preventative maintenance, there are some other core competencies that hiring managers will be looking for. These are absolutely essential to include in your profile and work history sections:
- Experience with a metrics-based approach to monitoring and identifying network performance issues.
- Since network administration is not a job done in isolation, examples of how you’ve partnered and collaborated with the security team.
- Examples of how you’ve provided operational design requirements while working hand-in-hand with engineers and architects.
- Examples of your ability to look ahead, anticipate extreme changes in utilization and traffic volumes and engage in proactive capacity management.
How to Write a Profile Summary
Your profile or opening summary is the first thing a reviewer sees and quickly describes who you are and how your work history will add value in future roles. Hooking the reader starts with a concise, catchy, credible, casual branding statement that answers five questions:
- What are your most significant personal traits?
- What is your role as a professional?
- What are the important things that you do?
- Who wants or needs you to do those things?
- How do the things that you do help people?
The branding statement is followed by three to five bullet points that summarize your most relevant qualifications. Hay shared this example:
Senior Network Administrator who works across the organization to ensure reliable and secure digital communications in the age of data dependency and distributed workforces.
•In a senior role, oversees the health of the infrastructure, supporting environments that are available, reliable, performant and secure.
•Uses a metrics-based approach to monitor and identify operational performance issues and provides frequent status updates to keep management apprised of issues and timelines for resolution.
•Partners with security teams to implement policies, processes and best practices to prevent, detect and monitor unauthorized access.
How to Write a Professional Experience Summary
Work experience is another critical section of your résumé because it connects the dots between your prior experience and the role you’re pursuing, supports your brand, and brings your story to life. It also gives the reviewer an idea of how you accomplished a goal or solved a problem, the tools and soft skills you used, and who you worked with.
Under a brief description of each position, use about five to seven bullets and sub-points to describe your major achievements using the PAR scheme:
- What was the problem?
- What action did you take?
- What was the result?
The selected examples below show how to list your work experience (you can see a complete sample résumé here):
Senior Network Administrator, Company Name December 2019-Present
In an industry driven by business, social and technological change, providing network administration, threat reduction and optimized design solutions that facilitate remote work for 5,000 global employees.
• Provided requirements for the design of a global DMVPN architecture which improved connectivity and eased implementations. Restructured the network to include strict ACL, Firewall, IPS/Ids and role-based access.
• Reduced security risks by 20% while lowering costs by performing automated, expert-level threat hunting at machine speeds.
• Worked closely with the Network Engineer and Network Architect to rapidly implement a WFH/Hybrid workforce experience with a network infrastructure that is stable and fast.
-Provided feedback during the implementation of Auvik’s cloud-based network monitoring to create visibility into home networks.
-Used real-time hardware metrics to monitor performance and proactively prevent problems.
• Collaborated with the security team to improve the security posture with a zero trust model designed to reduce risk and increase productivity. Included a new network hardening process, authentication, Cisco for network redundancy, Oracle Cloud for failover and VMware for replication.
Final Tips and Characteristics of an Effective Network Administrator Résumé
To encourage reviewers to read your résumé, limit the length to no more than two pages. Focus on the last 10 years, and eliminate graduation dates and older technologies. It won’t help if the skills you list are outdated or not related to the job. In addition:
Your résumé must be readable by computers and humans: A .docx file or PDF file is generally compatible with applicant tracking systems (ATS) and human reviewers. If you want to use graphics or images to tell your story, create multiple versions of your résumé.
Including a toolbox is optional: Having a section dedicated to technical skills and tools makes it easy for recruiters to check qualifications quickly, but to land an interview you still need to explain how you used them in your work history section. As Hay pointed out: “A résumé that simply lists the things that you produced, and the technologies used, is at best ordinary and at worst boring.”
Hobbies or non-work interests should support your branding statement. For example, if you’ve completed personal projects that utilized the skills necessary for the job, by all means include them (along with a handy link) in your application.
Templates are fine: However, to capture the attention of automated and human reviewers, make simple modifications/customizations to match the job description and organizational culture before hitting ‘Send.’ Even better, use a free tool like Jobscan or Résumé Worded to compare your résumé to a specific job description, make changes and get past applicant tracking systems.
Be sure to include hot certifications and course-work: You should include top certifications, vendor certifications and coursework that demonstrate expertise in fundamentals, security, emerging technologies and a passion for continuous learning. (In addition, more specialization and skills will allow you to potentially negotiate for a higher salary.)