As an IT professional in today’s job market, it can be difficult to find new ways to make your resume stand out in such a highly-competitive field. While some IT professionals may go with a more simplistic design for their resume, others exaggerate and misrepresent their technical skills and experience with the hopes of getting noticed—a mistake that can cost you the job according to John Carey, a Director at ES Technology, a division of The Execu|Search Group.
“The resumes that tend to get overlooked by hiring managers are the ones that aren’t strategically tailored to the role at hand,” says John. “Instead, candidates list too much disconnected information about their professional background. Including every single project or technology they’ve been exposed to can make it very difficult for us to see how well you could perform in the role.”
Therefore, if you are looking for ways to make your resume stand out, be sure to avoid the following mistakes:
- Don’t include information that you can’t discuss in detail
As a job seeker, it can be tempting to beef up your resume with certain skills hoping to stand out to prospective employers. However, it’s important to note that if you put it on your resume you should be prepared to speak to all of the information listed. “Once a recruiter or hiring manager sees the types of technical skills you possess on your resume, everything is up for discussion in an interview,” says John. “In other words, listing everything you’ve done technically can be less effective than being more strategic and direct about the technologies and projects you include as they relate to the current role.” Moreover, if you do make it to an interview and can’t speak to everything on your resume, this will immediately raise red flags to a prospective employer as it puts your integrity and credibility into question. To avoid running into these situations, focus on highlighting the right technologies for the most appropriate roles, which will help hiring managers and recruiters to quickly break down your resume to decide if you are a qualified candidate.
- Don’t stretch the truth on employment dates
As contract or temporary projects are very common throughout the tech industry, you sometimes might find yourself out of work for a few weeks or months trying to land another project. Unfortunately, an increasing number of tech professionals will fabricate certain dates on their resume to show minimal gaps in employment. “Although we trust that candidates list information on their resume honestly, LinkedIn is typically a hiring manager’s first stop to verify that a candidate’s resume/professional background match up,” says John. Therefore, if you’re stretching dates on your resume (or even on your LinkedIn profile), this will definitely raise red flags to a prospective employer and may impact your professional reputation. Instead of stretching the truth, find better ways to highlight things you’ve accomplished during a particular gap. For example, you could review some code on codeacademy, start learning a programming language, attend networking events, or volunteer. While you may have gaps in employment, highlighting personal accomplishments like these will show prospective employers that you are a proactive learner.
- Don’t overuse keywords just to get your resume noticed
It’s no secret that recruiters and hiring managers use various search filters to identify candidates that meet the basic requirements of a particular position. As a result, in an attempt to get noticed first, many IT professionals have resolved to oversaturate their resume with keywords that relate to a specific type of role. For example, if a candidate was in search of a job where they’d be using Adobe, job seekers will typically include the word ‘Adobe’ on a number of points throughout their resume. “Job seekers that overuse certain keywords may still face difficulty when landing a job if these keywords aren’t directly tied to their professional strengths and accomplishments,” says John. “Candidates need to show rather than tell. It’s preferable to use keywords sparingly, and instead, provide details that paint a clearer picture of how they’ve used the technology and in what capacity.” In the end, hiring managers and recruiters tend to be more interested in candidates that show the potential value they can bring to a specific position as opposed to how well they’re able to weave certain buzzwords throughout their resume.