Career Coach, Entrepreneur, and HR Professional
A good resume is a doorway to an interview and a potential job offer. Here’s the good news: the tech industry is always growing and has many high-paying opportunities. Every year, dozens of new technology companies are founded and new positions for entry-level to managerial-level positions are created.
Here’s the bad news: the competition is high. Computer Science and other technology graduates are joining the workforce in high numbers every year. People are leaving other industries to join the tech industry. To stand out, you have to make employers stop and wonder how they could afford not to hire you.
A good resume will go a long way to impressing a hiring manager. Here is how to write your resume to ensure it gives you the best chance to get the tech job you want.
1. Include Soft Skills – They’re Underrated
Look, hiring managers are going to hone in on your hard skills – after all, we all know that as programmers and technicians, this is really what separates ourselves from any other worker! But don’t leave out your soft skills entirely. This is a mistake far too many applicants make when applying to tech jobs. They take the common advice that soft skills are unprovable when listed on a resume, hence not worth including.
While there is some truth to it, cherry-picking the most relevant soft skills to the job you’re applying for is still going to be far better than including no soft skills at all.
2. Consider Professional Resume Assistance
Coders code, writers write. For many coders, writing just won’t be their thing. After all, coding and writing can be seen as oil and water. If this is the case for you, it may be worth it to seek professional help from a resume company. I actually cofounded Resume Writing Services a few years ago, so I can keenly aware of all the potential benefits of having a resume writer do the heavy lifting for you.
At the same time though, it’s important to understand this is a costly option, and hence, likely the option you should use as a last resort when you are truly unable to produce a quality resume yourself. Resume services are costly, and most of them start at a couple of hundred dollars, so it’s usually best to do it yourself if capable.
3. Include Your Portfolio of Projects
Technology companies love hearing about projects that you’ve come up with and created on your own. They show your love for the work you do and put you into the “above and beyond” category of job candidates.
If you have a personal or professional website where you’ve added your projects, it’s a good idea to insert a hyperlink at the top of your resume. A website portfolio is especially impressive if you include programs your hiring manager can try out or screenshots and explanations of exactly what you did, why you did it, what programs you used, and what the goals and outcomes were.
If you don’t have a personal or professional website or blog, you can link your projects, tools, scripts, and tests on your GitHub or BitBucket page, or wherever else you keep them online. If at all possible, try to link your projects directly under the skill bullet point in your skills section. Alternatively, you can create a separate section in your resume for your projects.
4. Use Your Web Presence To Increase Your Callbacks
You probably already have a social media presence. Why not make the most of it?
Consider this, a recent study by ResumeGo has found that job applicants with “comprehensive” LinkedIn profiles who included a link on their resumes received 71% more callbacks than applicants who didn’t include a link.
If you have an online portfolio, LinkedIn, GitHub, CodePen, or another relevant account, be sure to include a hyperlink in the header of your resume. Don’t include links to social media accounts that aren’t relevant and certainly none that contain anything that you’d be embarrassed for an employer to see.
5. Humanize Yourself with an Interests Section
It may seem counter-intuitive, but you would be surprised how often an interests section can help your resume stand out. A common interest can break the ice at an interview or at least make you seem a bit more interesting.
Interests give your interviewer something to connect with you on. Your hiring manager wants to picture you as a co-worker that they can have a long, healthy working relationship with. You may even find that you have much more in common with your hiring manager than you think.
Maybe you love playing the guitar, board games, or the New England Patriots. Whatever your interests, include a few in your interests section. It can relax your interviewer and make your interview feel like more of a conversation between fond colleagues than an anxiety-provoking interrogation.
6. Don’t Forget the Little Details
Before you submit your resume, make sure that all the small details are handled.
For example, in the header, don’t include your full address. Just “City, State” is enough. Whatever phone number you use, make sure it has a professional voicemail greeting. Also, once finished writing your resume, edit out all the mistakes. Leave it for a few days and then come back and look at it with fresh eyes. Alternatively, get a friend or professional editor to look it over.
Your resume’s filename should be very simple: just “FirstName LastName Resume”. Additionally, unless otherwise required, submit your resume as a PDF instead of a Word document. Different devices and operating systems display Word documents in all kinds of funky ways, potentially messing up your formatting.
The Hidden Truth
Here’s the hidden reality about hiring for tech jobs: hiring managers are oftentimes less “hiring managers” than just “managers.”
That means that when they need another person added to their team or division, they don’t get two weeks off to mull over their potential choices. Instead, hiring is just piled on to their already large workload.
Usually, you only get a few seconds of their time to get their attention.
Many job applicants blow their first impression. When a harried hiring manager is looking over a resume, if they don’t see something in the first few seconds that makes you stand out, the resume is often trashed on the spot. On the other hand, when you’ve thoughtfully prepared a well-written, attention-grabbing resume, you’re well-positioned to get your resume read in full and ultimately get called in for the interview!