Monday, December 17, 2007

Tips for Writing IT Resumes

Robin Schlinger, CARW, CFRW, of Robin's Resumes, gave permission to share her response to another resume writer's question about writing IT resumes. Prior to becoming a resume writer, Robin was an engineer and a programmer.

I work with a lot of technical folks writing IT resumes, based on my
Engineering and Programming background. It can be difficult to write for some technical folks if you do not understand the technology — and sometimes it is better to find someone who has the experience.

However, based on my experience working with these folks, I have found the following tips that have worked for me.

The format of the resume and the amount of technical information to include depends on the level the client is targeting and the niche they are in. You need to know that before you attempt to write the resume. If the resume is for someone interested in management (a difficult transition sometimes for IT folks), I actually tone down much of the technical stuff for the managerial stuff, and the resume looks much like a traditional manager or executive resume. I will usually include a technical skills section at the end of the resume.

At a senior management or department management level, the IT manager will already have been assumed to have the technical skills and his or her soft skills are much more important. For these resumes, in many cases, I remove version numbers (from specific software applications) unless the client is selling their expertise in a particular product in a senior role (such as SAP business analysts).

If a person is at a lower level — up to the level of a Project Manager / Project Leader / Team Leader, I will concentrate on how what they did adds value. I start with a summary, then list the technical skills in great detail (very organized into sections like Hardware, Software, Programming Languages, etc. — you need to have some understanding of the technology and lingo here — the sections depend on the client's expertise) and then list each assignment the person has done. There can be some creativity here if the person has been a contractor forever. I also list achievements as in any other resume. For these folks, most are fixated on the version numbers and technical details — and you must include much of it in your resume — or they will not be happy with it.

For both managers and lower level folks, you need to highlight certifications as well in the resume. Degrees are also important.

In many cases the difficulty I find in writing IT resumes is the person is more into the details of what they do — rather than the value of what they do is to the prospective employer. I find the following questions help ascertain the value. I find most IT folks can answer these questions— and they do help in developing their resumes.

For each job answer, I ask them to answer this for the top jobs they did in the position. I ask this for most IT folks — except if they are already at the executive level).

Which job?

Name of Project:

Description of the Project:

Why was the project important:

Your challenge in doing the project:

What you did to accomplish the project:

Your results:

Your role (i.e. leader or team member):

Technologies used:

Project budget:

Dollar value of product (product sales) if applicable:

Number of users:

These are the typical questions I ask my clients, which really helps when doing IT resumes. It is very directed, which IT folks need. I have used other questionnaires for technical folks but I find the answers to the questions above get me 80-90% of the technical information I need.

Note: If the client cannot answer the dollar value questions or why the project was important, I immediately know they are not ready for management and I write a highly technical resume.

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