With the new year now in full swing, working professionals usually use this time to start fresh. Whether you’re hoping to change jobs or simply looking to keep your skills up-to-date, the beginning of the year is typically a great time to jumpstart your decision to take action. Since your resume is typically the first time a prospective employer evaluates your professional experience before inviting you in for an interview, it’s important that you make a good first impression. To do this, it’s best to avoid exaggerating or misrepresenting your skills or experience on your technical resume, a common mistake that many IT professionals make in the hopes of standing out, according to Drew Donato, a Director of The Execu|Search Group’s Technology division.
“IT professionals who try to get a leg up on their competition with dishonest tactics during their job search, oftentimes do more harm than good,” says Drew. “Whether it’s changing your previous titles to be more in line with the type of role you’re interested in or fabricating your employment dates to cover up gaps, prospective employers will eventually catch on. This can ultimately cost you the job as well as hurt your industry reputation.”
If you are looking for ways to refresh your technical resume to get your foot in the door this year, be sure to implement the following changes:
- Keep the length of your resume to a minimum
As a job seeker, it can be tempting to beef up your technical resume with certain skills to stand out in a highly-competitive market. However, highlighting your entire professional background can make it hard for hiring managers and recruiters to identify your strengths as they relate to a specific role. “It’s great if you have years of experience to point to, however, hiring managers won’t read through a six-page resume if they’re considering hundreds of candidates for the same role,” says Drew. “While there is no concrete formula for the length of your resume as it relates to your experience level, an ideal resume should be no longer than 3 to 4 pages.” To put this into perspective, if you are applying to more functional positions like a Project Manager or a Business Analyst, part of your responsibilities may include documentation and presenting data. Therefore, hiring managers will be evaluating your resume to see how well you highlight your experience. An overly-lengthy resume may raise red flags to prospective employers as it demonstrates an inability to communicate concisely.
- Keep the information on your resume relevant to the role
To ensure they are considered for the widest variety of roles, an increasing number of IT professionals choose to include any and every technology they’ve ever used on their resumes. For instance, if you worked on a team using Java as a Business Analyst, unless you had hands-on experience using Java, it would be misleading to list ‘Java’ as a skill on your resume. “It’s more important to focus closely on the technology and responsibilities you deal with on a regular basis, and if they are not directly related to the role you’re applying for, consider removing them altogether,” recommends Drew. “Once something is listed on your resume, it is fair game for a prospective employer to ask questions.” Therefore, if you are unable to answer certain questions, this will speak negatively to your credibility and trustworthiness—decreasing your odds of getting the job.
- Create more than one resume
The most successful IT candidates are the ones who design resumes that are tailored specifically to the type(s) of roles they are most interested in. In other words, if you possess a variety of technical and managerial strengths, consider creating two different resumes that highlight your skillset appropriately. “Whether you are in search of a team lead role or moving up to a type of managerial role, a resume that is centric to the type of position and responsibilities you’re looking for may increase your odds of getting an interview,” says Drew. “Creating different resumes will give you the flexibility to think more strategically about including the most relevant skills on your resume based on the role.” For example, if you possess both Quality Assurance skills and Java development experience, consider creating two resumes; one that speaks to your strengths as a QA if you’re targeting Business Analyst or Project Manager roles, and another that highlights your hands-on development experience using Java if you’re applying for Developer roles.