Here are 8 rules to follow when trying to get your resume past the gatekeepers and bringing you one step closer to that dream IT job:
- Screening software is used far more than many modern job-seekers realize. Take some time to really think about the job you’re applying for, and especially keywords from your experience and background that you’re going to want to include. Make sure to highlight those and related phrases to bolster your chances. The software is tough to elude, so don’t be afraid to use your professional network connections to bypass this part of the process. It’s better if you can just skip over the screening software entirely and get your resume in the hands of a human decision-maker.
- There’s no rule that says you only need one unchanging resume to always use. In fact, that’s a bad idea. Think about writing your objective at the top of the resume and keep this like an “elevator pitch.” If you ran into the Hiring Manager in an elevator and had just 20 seconds to convince them that you have the skills they need and you’re the right person for the job, what would you say? Your answer will be different from one position to another, based on the company, its history, and the job itself.
- What’s important, what’s not? Just because something from your career or personal life is important to you, does not mean that it will be important to a Hiring Manager. Remember, the Hiring Manager is looking for narrowly focused parameters. They don’t care that you were a high school football champion or head of your chess club; they want to know whether you’re an expert in C#, C++, or SQL and so on. Don’t unnecessarily pad your resume!
- If you’ve had a smashing success in your career or even on a single project that is directly related to the job you’re applying for, get that into your resume and get it in early! It’s amazing how many people either forget or just don’t think about including this in their resume. That success and proven track record related to the job you’re applying for could be exactly what the Hiring Manager is looking for. Plus, if you make it to the interview stage, expect questions about that successful project.
- Be honest! If you lie about or dishonestly pad your skills on your resume, you’re likely going to get caught. What happens if you get the job and later get fired because the employer finds out you were dishonest? How’s that going to look in your work history? Don’t forget that every person, including you, has a digital footprint these days that a Hiring Manager can quickly research online. And they will! Honesty is always the best policy.
- Hiring Managers want to see what projects/work YOU touched. They do not want to read about what your team did, so take the time to write/revise your resume to highlight and describe in straight forward detail all that YOU did to move the IT project along.
- Length matters….keep it to 2 pages, 3 max.
- If you have changed jobs frequently, if you were an IT contractor for years and you are looking for a full-time job now, add a detailed cover letter as too why such short durations at each company. Hiring Managers tend to be skeptical of job hoppers if unexplained.
Every job and situation are different, so you must tailor your resume to each specific company if you’re serious about your next IT job. Remember that your resume is really a sales pitch, and you’re trying to advertise the reasons why a Hiring Manager should call you and set up a time for that first interview. And keep it tight! You can always expand on things on your resume later; the first step is getting past all the gatekeepers and screening software.
Written by Dana Tarlow