IT Resume Makeover: Career growth begins with a strong summary

Pinpoint your most relevant skills and experience to build a strong resume summary that introduces you as a prime candidate with executive appeal.

Sean Burns’ resume didn’t feature any glaring flaws, just the common mistakes most of us make when writing a resume. Resume expert, Andrew Ysasi, president of Admovio and executive director of Kent Record Management, says Burns’ resume was too technical, scattered and failed to shed any light on his extensive experience in information security.

“His resume would not have performed well with common search queries for information security jobs, and if found, it was unlikely his resume would have performed well against other candidates’ due to lack of cohesion,” says Ysasi.

Burns agreed that his resume “lacked focus” and a “consistent theme,” noting that he found it challenging to figure out “what career details to highlight and which to eliminate.” Despite years of experience in information security, Burns’ resume didn’t appeal to the jobs he was interested in applying to.

Your resume’s first impression

Your resume needs a strong summary to introduce yourself as a potential candidate. This is where you can highlight your most recent and impressive accomplishments to set the tone for the rest of your resume.

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“Burns has an abundance of experience, but the top-of-fold information on his resume was more system administration, jargon-filled and he didn’t do his information security experience justice,” says Ysasi.

Ysasi chose to include Burns’ extensive experience in higher education, law enforcement and Fortune 500 industries in the first sentence. Right off the bat, a hiring manager can see how versatile and flexible Burns is as a security employee.

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IT Resume Makeover: Career growth begins with a strong summary

He also included Burns’ major responsibilities, accomplishments, training, education and a broad overview of his capabilities. Towards the end of the summary, Ysasi gave more information about Burns’ future career plans, including titles he hopes to eventually hold, such as IT Director, and certifications he plans to complete.

Professional history

You want to include all relevant career history on your resume, but the further you get from a role, the less detail you need to include.

“Andrew took the time to understand what my long-term career goals were and how to best develop a consistent theme that prospective employers might value. There were a series of discussions and assignments that pushed me to think about my career achievements and specific job titles that I currently qualify for,” says Burns.

Using that information, Ysasi was able to prioritize what to include from Burns’ career history, and what to minimize. Ysasi chose to leave out experience prior to his role as a senior IS manager starting in 2005 — since these included some of his less relevant roles. He still included those roles in Burn’s career history as a bulleted list, but left off any responsibilities or duties. Your resume is about getting a foot in the door, so you want to present the most enticing — and most importantly, relevant — information to a recruiter or hiring manager.

Visual appeal

Burns wasn’t pleased with the curb appeal of his resume and felt the format was outdated. “It was in need of a more modern look and feel. Visual appeal and readability do matter,” he says.

Ysasi chose to highlight Burns’ titles at the top of the page in a subtle, steel grey background. It not only draws the eye to his experience, but he included the correct terms for applicant tracking systems.

“Based on his experience, he knew what employers were looking for regarding skillset and background. Andrew could easily parse out the most relevant content to better streamline and communicate a consistent message to hiring managers as well as electronic applicant tracking systems,” says Burns.

Below, highlighted in a matching shade, Ysasi included Burns’ key skills and relevant, up-to-date certifications. These serve to immediately draw the reader in, pointing out his most valuable assets immediately and prompting a hiring manager to read more.

When listing skills, certifications or technical knowledge on your IT resume, it’s important to include only the most recent, updated information. Outdated information is just clutter that will take up precious space on your resume, making it longer and more difficult to read.

The final product

Burns’ final resume is concise and to the point — his career history includes a brief summary under each title, highlighting any major accomplishments and relevant skills used on the job. By eliminating technical jargon and moving the bulk of relevant information to the summary, Ysasi took Burns’ resume from three pages to one.

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IT Resume Makeover: Career growth begins with a strong summary

“He had a lot of involvement in this resume, and he genuinely is proud of his resume, and I think has a newfound respect for his information security knowledge. He will have a great career in information security, and I look forward to watching his career progress,” says Ysasi.

Burns was grateful for the fresh set of eyes on his resume — it’s hard to be objective, so having a professional parse out the most important details can go a long way.

“I was fortunate to have an expert set of eyes and ears to answer questions and call out irrelevant content. Working with Andrew was a positive experience and I was very grateful for the opportunity,” says Burns.

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