IT Resume Makeover: How to Add Focus to Your Tech Resume
In our most recent resume makeover, IT career expert Jennifer Hay demonstrates how to organize and condense years of accomplishments and skills into an easy-to-read document that tells your story.
By Rich Hein
Brad Kirk has more than 16 years in IT leadership roles -in IT consulting and in both permanent and contract positions. He’s worked in all facets of cloud computing and, thanks to articles he’s written, he is considered a thought-leader on the topic.
Over that time, Kirk’s held many jobs, worn many hats and his resume shows it. “My biggest challenge in putting together my resume is that I keep an ongoing resume and so as I work on new projects and things, I need to keep a pretty detailed list,” says Kirk. This can result in an unfocused long resume.
Being an IT consultant, potential clients are always interested in digging into the details of what you’ve done before. “One of the questions you are asked most often is, ‘what projects have you been working on?’ ” says Kirk.
At this point in his career, Kirk is on a mission to find a more permanent vice president or senior IT position based on his cloud skills. The only problem was the type of solicitations his old resume was generating weren’t what he was looking for and, in many cases, they were a step back from where he was.
“Based on the recruiters who were calling me and the type of opportunities that were coming my way, I started to realize, these are not the types of roles I want to attract,” says Kirk.
“In my career, I have moved from being a technical hands-on IT operations guy [to a guy] who migrated into being an infrastructure architect who focuses on infrastructure and cloud. In the past five or six years, my role has moved much closer to the business,” says Kirk.
He knew that his resume needed to evolve to reflect these changes and, more importantly, what makes him stand apart from all the other IT pros out there.
With this in mind, Kirk realized he needed a resume makeover, so he turned to CIO.com and resume expert, Jennifer Hay, to get his resume back on track.
Jennifer Hay is a resume writer for IT professionals and executives. Among her credentials, she lists that she is the first nationwide resume writer for information technology (CRS+IT). For years she has worked to help empower people to succeed in the world of IT.
After looking at his resume, Hay met with Kirk to discuss his career in general but, more importantly, what makes him different? What are his major accomplishments relevant to the position he is seeking? What stories need to be showcased?
One of the things Kirk did well, according to Hay, was outline his achievements. “Brad is a prolific writer and one of the things I do is to keep as much of the client’s voice as possible in the resume. I want it to feel like them. He had a lot of valuable information and I kept a lot of it,” Hay says.
Resume Problems and Solutions
Problem 1: Crowded and Small Type
After taking one look at his resume, Hay says she could immediately tell that Kirk’s resume was “too word-heavy and dense.” She could also tell pretty quickly that the font was too small making it difficult to read. “It was so dense and had so little white space that it was unattractive to the eye,” says Hay.
Kirk agreed and said he knew this going into the makeover. “As my career has gotten longer, it has made it difficult to summarize the most important items and projects as well as the impact of that work. So my resume had grown to three pages,” says Kirk.
Experts agree that for IT resumes three pages isn’t necessarily too long, but in this case if you combine the small font and the word density of his resume you can see how this can make things somewhat unwieldy and difficult to scan, which is the way many resumes are read.
In order to chop it down a bit, Hay went through the resume looking for all of the areas where she found excessive buzzwords. “I highlighted those and noted how they were duplicated throughout messages,” says Hay.
She then created categories and dropped everything into its respective place. “I had to break them down into categories to make it easier to organize the information and collect it under a simple message,” says Hay.
Problem 2: Repetition
The next item: There was too much redundancy. She noticed throughout the resume that Kirk had described some of the same skills more than once. “He had multiple bullet items that were sending the same message. You have such little space in a resume so why repeat the message,” says Hay.
To resolve this issue she took the data from her previous work and began condensing it. Wherever she could, she paired down duplicates and tightened up phrasing.
Problem 3: Good Stuff Hard to Find
There was too much information on page 1 and his really valuable job didn’t start until page 2. “He called himself a cloud industry thought-leader and a cloud strategist and there was no connection between that statement and his old resume,” says Hay. The information was in there, but it was almost impossible to pull it out, she says.
“There are a lot of cloud consultants who work on the front-end and deployment. There are much fewer who are involved in the full product lifecycle. This is what distinguishes him from all the other people,” says Hay. Bearing that in mind, she created a more focused and targeted resume opening that highlighted the items that separate Kirk from the pack.
Problem 4: Differentiators Not Easy to Spot
Kirk had too many articles listed, taking up too much space. “These articles were a big differentiator between Kirk and his peers. They also helped substantiate his clam of being a cloud computing thought-leader. Kirk has a very active social group with some very high-level participants. He created a brand and published a large number of excellent articles,” says Hay. However, this information needed to be made more palatable and more accessible at first glance.
Hay knew she needed to keep the valuable article information but somehow shrink the footprint. Her solution: “We created a small blurb at the top referencing his article contributions and where they can be found,” says Hay.
Problem 5: Key Details Still Buried
Kirk’s accomplishments were buried in his word-heavy resume. Even after organizing and condensing items, Hay said she still felt like she still needed to do more to pull out valuable details.
Hay called additional attention to Kirk’s annual contributions by highlighting his major achievements in a different color and organized them by year.
Kirk was happy when he got the final draft. “When you’re multitasking and doing many different things it’s really challenging to have your resume focused on specific items. Since I’ve had a lot of diverse roles there are a lot of different descriptions for all these different tasks. What she [Hay] was able to do was help tell the story of my career at an overview level instead of digging into all the details. She helped me focus on the most important concepts and the most interesting projects that had the most impact,” says Kirk.
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If you’d like to participate in the resume makeover please drop us an email with Resume Makeover 2013 in the subject.