The other day I got a call from a recruiting colleague whose judgement I trust. “I sent you a fantastic candidate for that IT consultant role I know you’ve been working on,” he told me. “But he says he sent you his resume last week and still hasn’t heard from you. How come you haven’t called him? He’s a great hire!”
The truth was, I’d put the guy into the ‘reject’ pile already. His resume was 6 pages long, I couldn’t tell what his top specialties were, and his PHP experience – which comprised about 75% of the day-to-day activities of the job for which I was hiring – was buried on page 4 and I hadn’t even noticed it. I’d just assumed that my colleague had misunderstood the role and sent me the wrong person.
“I’m looking for someone who’s a PHP expert,” I told my colleague. “I didn’t think he fit.”
“He’s been doing mostly PHP stuff for the past 2 years!” my colleague replied.
Don’t Hide Your Genius in an Over-Done Resume
And herein lies the problem with many, many resumes for IT consultants: Many of them contain so much information, so poorly organized, that IT recruiters simply aren’t able to see the trees for the forest, as it were.
As an IT consultant, you may wish that IT recruiters were better able to parse your resume or understand your skills, but the truth is that the shortest path to a new job is to make the IT recruiter’s job as easy as possible – which means making your resume easy to scan and understand.
Here’s how to ensure your resume gets the response you want from IT recruiters:
Include an Objective or Profile Section at the Beginning
A couple of sentences about the kind of work you’re looking for and where you are in your career can really help cut to the chase. For example, “Experienced Drupal developer with strong background in ASP” at the top of your resume will help the recruiter or potential employer say “Aha! Those are the skills I was looking for!” and increase your chances of getting called for an interview.
Have a lot of different IT skills? Consider editing your Objective or Profile section for each position. This ensures the recruiter or employer sees exactly what they need to know for their position in particular.
Put Your Technical Summary Up-Front
Most experienced IT recruiters prefer to see a technical summary, a list of your technical skills and experience, on the first page of your resume, in as concise a form as possible. For example, “Custom database application development, 3+ years.
This helps them quickly scan your skills and make a determination whether you’re a good fit for the role. Concentrate on your strongest technical skills and the ones that are most relevant for this position. If you once configured an Apache server, but it was 5 years ago, you should probably leave it out for the sake of brevity. Or place it at the bottom if space allows.
Include Your Relevant IT Professional Experience
It’s important to include your professional experience – where you worked, what you did, and the dates you worked there – but it’s equally important to ensure that what you include is relevant to the position for which you’re applying.
It’s okay to leave out things like “set up new laptops” from a job you had 7 years ago if the job for which you’re applying now is all about server maintenance. A good rule of thumb is to ensure you have no more than 3-5 bullet points for each previous job. Make them count.
Professional Designations, Certifications & Education at the end
Your education, designations and certifications are important, but in most cases they are secondary to your actual IT skills and experience for a given role. So put them at the end of your resume.
The exception is if the position puts particular emphasis on a certain certification, i.e. Must be Microsoft Certified. In that case, put the certification in the Objective/Profile statement right at the beginning.
Keep it Clean and Simple
A concise (3 pages or less), well-formatted (no strange backgrounds, graphics or colours) and easy-to-read (no fancy fonts, no 8-point type) resume will always get a better response than a resume that is 10 pages long and includes endless tables.
Include a short cover email explaining why you’d be a good fit for the role for which you’re applying, and you’ll find you end up on the shortlist more often.
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For more job-seeking tips like this, visit our Guide to Landing the Ultimate Information Technology Job.