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advice and updates for IT professionals and employers.

Writing the Resume That Puts You Out Front

Preparing your resume

You have one chance. Fifteen seconds, 20 if you’re lucky. You’re being judged and you aren’t even there. It’s your resume. The good news is there are things you can do to make that resume a shining ambassador for you. The bad news is that, badly done, it can get you disqualified before you even open your mouth to say good morning.

The Basics

There are a few things everyone should do when putting together their resume, no matter what job they are applying for, no matter how much experience they have. The shame of it is that the basics are so often missed.

  • Check your spelling. Now turn off spell-check and check it again for inappropriate synonyms. Your/you’re, their/there/they’re, and its/it’s are infamous for tripping up the spell-check dependent. If you aren’t sure, ask someone to proof it for you.
  • Ask someone else to proof it for you even if your are sure. If that isn’t possible, read it out loud.
  • Use the same standard font and the same color ink (black) throughout.
  • Don’t put your full address on your resume. There are just too many crazies out there these days.
  • You don’t have to put your phone number on the resume, but if you do – answer it! At least check your voice mail frequently and respond.
  • And speaking of voice mail, don’t try to be cute. Just state your name and that you’ll respond within a set time – and then do it. Some people in high-demand positions have a separate number that they publish for work. Google, for instance, has a free service that lets you select a phone number that then feeds any calls to your regular phone.
  • Delete old voice mails to make room for the messages you’re waiting for about the job you want.
  • No ringback tones.
  • Don’t bother with page breaks – just let your information flow naturally from one page to the next.
  • Be consistent – if you are going to list capabilities with bullets, then use bullets when listing your experience. Don’t use bulleted lists for one section, then paragraphs and long narratives in the next. In fact, avoid the long narratives, period. Also use the same tense throughout.
  • If you are still in school, say so. Also say what your major is and when you expect to finish.

The Next Step

Now that you have the basics in place, you’re ready for the stage of creating a resume that will work for you – and your potential employers.

  • Don’t bother with an objective unless you are fresh out of school or rebooting your career. If you do choose to write an objective, be sure it matches the job you’re applying for.
  • Don’t send a PDF. Most consultants will reformat your resume to suit their own templates. A PDF makes that impossible.
  • Spell out acronyms, at least in the first instance.
  • Spell out dates: July 2016 vs. 7/16
  • Even if your last job was through a consulting firm, reference the actual employer.
  • Make sure your dates are correct and match the dates on your LinkedIn profile.
  • You do have a LinkedIn profile, don’t you?
  • Include a recent, professional photo on your LinkedIn profile. Don’t include a photo at all on your resume.
  • Include the full date for any dates referenced in the last two to five years. Earlier than that, it’s okay to just use the year.
  • Don’t link your personal Twitter and Facebook accounts to your resume. They aren’t pertinent to your job and could possibly work against you.
  • Save your list of hobbies for LinkedIn.
  • Ditto volunteer work, though there are some exceptions: if you know the hiring company has a strong volunteer ethic, if the volunteer work was meaningful, and if it’s solid – you spent every Tuesday evening tutoring or spent a week helping in an emergency shelter after a recent disaster, for instance.
  • Don’t include references, just indicate they are available.
  • Be sure your list of capabilities matches those required in the job description, even if they seem obvious or mundane. Don’t ask the recruiter to assume anything.
  • Acknowledge any gaps in your work history and be prepared to explain. It’s usually okay if you took time off for family, school, travel or an illness.

Now you can really shine

If you stop there, your resume is already ahead of a large percentage of resumes recruiters see. You can take it even further, though, as there are some special “rules” you can take advantage of as someone in the tech field.

  • Don’t try to cram everything into a two-page resume. An experienced tech professional should have a three to six-page resume. Yes, really. You want to list each job function, with dates, skills, tools and technologies used, project type, and achievements. The job functions alone should take up about a third of your resume.
  • Have multiple resumes and tailor each one for the specific jobs you apply for. For instance, you may have a resume for project management and another for systems analyst, and possibly one that combines the two, if that’s what the hiring company is looking for.
  • If you’ve finished school within the last two or three years, it’s okay to list class projects that are pertinent to the job. They help prove you have the required knowledge.
  • List your certifications and dates.
  • It seems obvious, but be prepared to talk about every single detail of your resume – dates, experience, tools used, technologies. All of it.

Get ready for your next step

Good luck! With a dynamite resume, you should soon be on your way to your next job.


Special thanks to our awesome recruiters Meghan Renfro, Jenna Bracken Reed and Tom Mathews. They see thousands of resumes every year and provide guidance to many, many applicants. If you are in the looking for a job in the tech field, we can help. Submit your resume (using these tips) to or contact us at