One of the biggest transformations in the tech industry in 2020 was the rise of remote work. There is both good and bad to this transformation. Let's first start with the good. With remote work becoming a norm in the industry, your chance of getting a tech job has increased exponentially as you're no longer constrained by your physical place of residence. Gone were the days where you had to be living a few miles away from the Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Hills in Austin or Sydney CBD to get a tech job with a well-known tech company in the country. This is great news for tech companies as they will be able to reach the talent that weren't available before, and the talent pool suddenly exploded.
So what's bad? Well, this means that as a job seeker, you will have more competition. Sure, you can get access to more companies but so can everyone else. So the question then is how do you have an edge above other candidates so that you get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers amongst tens of thousands of other applications that they receive?
As a hiring manager in the tech industry and an interviewer for many tech jobs, not only for software developers and engineering managers but also for site reliability engineers, product managers, UX designers, content writers, program managers and technical recruiters, I've seen my fair share of resumes for tech jobs and what stand out. And the best thing is, those with stand-out resumes perform better than average in interviews as well. This is because they have presented themselves in the best possible light and highlighted important information for interviewers to deep dive into. As a result, their interviews are more focused and flow much smoother.
There are five essential steps to creating a perfect resume for tech jobs that stands out. Such resumes are professional and effective, land multiple interviews and get you the job you want.
Without any further ado, here are the five steps.
- Focus on your speciality
- Quantify your achievements
- Show the proof
- Make it scannable
- Discard irrelevant information
1. Focus on your speciality
What's one thing that you're known for in the industry? It could be a specialised skill or a specific type of company or environment. For example, improving website performance or working at finance-related companies. Not sure what you're known for? Look back at the last few years of your career, the projects that you've worked on, the companies that you've worked for and identify some patterns. The thing with becoming better at anything is the amount of consistent practice, so it's more than likely that your speciality is something that you've been doing repeatedly.
Once you've identified your speciality, highlight it in the short summary section of your resume. Moreover, call out that speciality of yours in the employment summary of each job that you have.
2. Quantify your achievements
Compare these three examples of achievements:
- I worked on a redesign project with Company XYZ in my role as a lead front-end developer.
- I worked on one of the biggest redesign projects with Company XYZ in my role as a lead front-end developer. The project spanned over 3 months, and I worked on three different codebases and rewrote almost 100 UI components.
- As a lead front-end developer at Company XYZ, I worked on a redesign project for a marketplace site that receives 3 million unique visitors a month. The aim of the project was to refresh the look and feel of the marketplace and as part of the project, I rewrote almost 100 UI components and ensured they conformed to accessibility and web standards. The new redesign reduced the First Contentful Paint (FCP) by half from 3s to 1.5s and increased Google's PageSpeed from 70 to 96.
As you can see, the 3rd example stands out because not only it explained the complexity of the project, it also quantifies the impact that the candidate had delivered in industry metrics. You can also tell that the candidate's speciality is web performance by reading the example above.
3. Show the proof
How would a hiring manager or recruiter know that you're really capable of what you said you could do or have done in your resume? By seeing the proof. Proof can come in one of three ways as part of your resume:
- Testimonials and 360 feedback from your past and present colleagues
- Your work online, such as your personal brand, your website, your portfolio
- Awards you've received, as long as they are relevant to your career
4. Make it scannable
It's a widely known fact that recruiters and hiring managers spend less than 10 seconds glancing at a resume. But that doesn't mean there is no point to write a solid resume with important information. This is because if there is a resume that catches their attention, recruiters and hiring managers will spend more time looking at it. They might not look at it immediately, but they will definitely come back to it. Therefore, the key is to make your resume easily scannable so that within 10 seconds, recruiters or hiring managers will make the decision that they want to spend more time reviewing your resume.
To make your resume scannable, use appropriate font size and colour for each heading, make certain keywords (eg: your speciality) bold, group relevant info, list items in a bullet point, add white space to improve legibility and last but not least, present information in the order of importance, from top to bottom, are some of the easy but effective ways.
5. Discard irrelevant information
Less is more; you may have heard of it but have you really applied the theory in practice, especially in your resume?
When your resume is 4 or 5 pages long with too much information, it overwhelms hiring managers and recruiters. The risk then is your important achievements will be diluted with all the irrelevant and outdated information or worse, they may discard your resume altogether.
For example, if you've made a career change a few years ago from an accountant to a software developer, you don't need to list all the employment history you've had in your early career as a bookkeeper.
Likewise, if you've been working in the industry for more than a decade and are applying for leadership roles, it is ok to remove your first internship experience from your employment history.
"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Investing in your resume will get back tenfold
Having a good resume not only gets you interviews but also leads you to job offers. We all know this, first impression matters. Your first impression with your potential employer starts from the moment they see your resume, not when you meet them for the first interview.
Here is a perfect resume template for tech jobs in Google Docs that you may purchase with prompts to help you think about what information you should be including and how to structure them effectively.
Commonly Asked Questions about Tech resumes and IT resumes
- Can an IT resume be 2 pages?
- Yes, absolutely, as long as you're listing relevant information, work experience and extra extracurricular activities that are relevant to your career in IT. However, try to limit it to no more than 3 pages maximum. Have a look at tech resume template to see how you can fit more information in one page using 2 columns layout but still making it scannable.
- What skills should I put in an IT resume?
- You should put both soft and hard skills, but under different sections.
- What is the best font for a tech resume?
- Keep it simple and use any standard and easy-to-read font. Remember one of the steps I mentioned in my Tech Resume Guide above, make it scannable which also means not using fancy fonts that are not legible.
- How to write a software developer resume?
- One of the biggest mistakes that I see software developers make in their resumes is that they fail to elaborate their impact and explained their projects in business terms. For example, Wrote code and fixed bugs for software doesn't say anything about your capabilities as a software developer. Refer to Step 2 of my Tech Resume Guide above, Quantify your achievements, to see a good example of how to talk about projects you've worked on.
- What are recommended resume words?
- Ten recommend resume words or action verbs to use in your resume are: 1) Led, 2) Developed, 3) Educated, 4) Standardised, 5) Yielded, 6) Reduced / Increased, 7) Achieved, 8) Delivered, 9) Influenced, 10) Negotiated.