By James Shen and Mariah Wagner
Many candidates come to Benchmark IT asking what their resume is lacking. The truth is, there are many aspects to a resume that can make or break your chances of landing an interview. It’s important to remember that the point of a resume isn’t to get you a job, but to get you the interview. With that in mind, ask yourself: How does your resume appear to employers? Are you getting interviews? If not, what is your resume lacking?
Benchmark IT’s Senior Recruiter, Mariah Wagner, and Director, James Shen weigh-in and share valuable thoughts on how candidates can enhance their technology resume
What’s the job of a resume?
In my perspective, the job of the resume is to outline your skills. It’s used to highlight your proficiencies and underscore which accomplishments are most relevant to the position you are applying for. It should be designed to get the reviewer excited about your background enough to want to interview you.
On a two-page technology resume, you’re not going to be able to convince someone to give you a job. The goal is to get the reviewer excited enough that they want to talk to you. The purpose of the resume is to show that you have the required skills and qualifications for the role at hand. Once you get the interview, you can discuss all the details that aren’t on your resume.
What are the most common mistakes?
A lot of the time, candidates don’t highlight their most proficient technologies or skills. Instead, they list every technology they have every used rather than the skills they have mastered. In this case, your resume has an excess of details.
On the other hand, resumes lack the most important details. Especially when it comes to developers’ resumes, we sometimes see summary sections that are a page and a half long that repeat the same information. The summary section should be relatively short with one or two bullet points that highlight your key skills and achievements. You don’t want to list an excessive amount of information on a resume. It’s also important to list your technologies in order of proficiency. The candidate’s strongest skills should be listed first.
James and I come in contact with technology professionals’ resumes that are far too long. It’s very important to keep your resume concise. More often than not, the hiring professionals are pressed for time and want review resumes as quickly as possible. It should be about two or three pages, and no more than that. We have both come across many resumes that are eight to ten pages long, and it’s simply too long. I once received a resume that was 22 pages long!
Wow, I thought I held the record when someone sent me a 20-pager! Bottom line, having that long of a resume shows that you are probably listing things that you are not a master of, or you are keyword loading so employers find your resume easily. Using keywords is important, but only if they are relevant and don’t distract from getting you noticed and getting you the interview. If your resume is more than three pages, you are putting an excessive amount of unnecessary information in it.
What are the most important things to include in your resume?
James and I agree that you need to highlight your accomplishments. How else would you get the reviewer excited about your background and encourage them to want to talk to you? Clients use multiple sources to receive resumes, whether online or through agencies. They receive many resumes a day, so how will yours stand out? The highlighted accomplishments will make your profile stand out.
Adding a short summary at the top of your resume outlining what role you are targeting and what skills you possess to perform the duties is important. Sometimes, people have accomplished a lot, but we are unsure of what you want to accomplish next. You want to clarify your career goals in the summary and make it your mission statement. This especially applies to junior candidates that are recent graduates with a few internships under their belt. Those candidates should clarify what they are looking to do and list the technologies they are most proficient in and passionate about. While on the topic of education, I don’t recommend listing a degree if the coursework it is not yet completed. If you are in the process of obtaining your degree, put “pursuing” or something similar that shows that you are working on getting your degree. The last thing you want to do is mislead your audience.
If you are a more experienced candidate, we recommend having different versions of your resume. If you have a lot of experience, you don’t want to include everything in your mission statement. For instance, if you are an IT manager and you are seeking an application related role, your mission statement should address that, rather than include all of your prior experience. In this case, you should list skills such as having done application infrastructure. We highly recommend that you have different versions of your technology resume that address different positions.
How much work experience should you add?
Organization within your resume is very important. If you are going to list your technology skills, put your most proficient ones first. Going off of that, when you have skills listed in your skills section, I expect to see them somewhere else in your resume. If they are not listed elsewhere, I’m not sure where or when you used them. The technology skills listed in your skills section should also be mentioned in your work experience section, so it’s clear when, where, and how you used them.
It’s also important to give context around the technologies used on your resume. For example, some software development candidates provide a list of technologies they used in a role but there’s no mention of the type of application they were building. The last thing you want is for a reviewer to go through 20 bullet points of your accomplishments and not have a clear idea of what kind of applications you have been working on. Many resumes we receive lack that important information that provides “color” to the audience.
When it comes to very long resumes, especially in the technology space, anything that is more than 10 or 12 years old can be deemphasized. Technology is changing so fast; it’s not necessary to go into great detail about something you worked on over 10 years ago. You can put it in your resume, but keep it limited to a couple of bullet points.
What not to do
In the past, I’ve received a technology professionals’ resume where a lot of the information was very fabricated or inaccurate. Exaggerating or lying on your resume is never recommended. Since reviewing resumes is a big part of our role, it’s not hard to spot discrepancies. We found that some hiring managers take the time to compare the candidate’s resume to their LinkedIn profile.
I’ve read resumes where I noticed the candidate copied and pasted work experience throughout the resume to the point where it didn’t make sense. Always take the extra time to review your resume so there aren’t any typos or grammatical errors. A poorly written resume sends a message to hiring managers that you aren’t attentive to detail. Candidates also sometimes try to appear more senior by fabricating their work experience. It’s important to specify whether a position was a full-time job, part-time job, internship, or even volunteer work. I’ve seen it where even if you get past the initial interviews, upon receiving an offer, background checks will reveal the truth when they verify previous employment or education. Overall, you want a clean and concise resume that is completely factual. Your resume should include all the right information and highlight your accomplishments and proven competencies.
We hope, after reading this, you’ll have a better idea what your technology resume is lacking. It’s important to remember that the primary purpose of your resume is to grab the reader’s attention so you can get an initial interview!
If you have any questions about building your resume and pinpointing what it’s lacking, feel free to reach out to James and me. We are here to help.
About Benchmark IT –Technology Talent
Benchmark IT –Technology Talent offers IT consulting, executive search, and direct hire recruitment and staffing services throughout the metro New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area. Established in 2007, its proprietary recruitment process and dedication to precision, ethics, and personalized service have made them a trusted partner among Fortune-ranked companies, mid-market, start-up, and growth-phase firms in the Tri-State area. For additional information, visit www.bmarkits.com