IT Resume Writing – The Rules have Changed

Recently, I did a search on IT Resume Writing Best Practices and found lots of articles from ‘IT resume experts’ that were the same boring advice from years past. Also, the advice is barely targeted at technology professionals and never goes beyond the most basic and generic information.

In their defense, you have to remember that many of these people write about writing technology resumes and offer advice on technical job search skills but don’t have actual experience in the field of resume writing. Nor do they have any technical expertise, other what you’d expect from an average business professional.

It is almost like they have a fish bowl full of pieces of paper that include the standard advice items and each time they write an article, they select the ‘top 5’ or ‘top 10’ recommendations. So it’s no surprise that the articles are really boring.

Here is a sampling: Ditch the objective; Don’t be vague in your summary; Be concise and don’t misspell; Think accomplishments over duties; Use keywords; and Include a skills section on your resume.

If you are writing your first or second technical resume then this is good advice, but beyond that, you should already know this information.

This article is a first in a series from a contrarian’s point of view. I’ve been writing technical resumes and providing career advice for IT professionals for over 10 years. I’ll be discussing the good, the bad, and the ugly. I hope you have fun and learn the best practices for IT resumes and IT job search skills along the way.

Let’s get started with the common questions I receive.

Client: A friend told me that I need two resumes – one for IT management and another for technical positions.

As a politician once said: Trust but verify! Your friends and colleagues may have your best interests at heart, but may not be up on the best practices for IT resumes. Their advice could help you or it could, in fact, negatively impact your chances of finding a job. Please do some research on your own just to make sure that the advice is right for your situation.

As everyone knows, LinkedIn (LI) has completely changed the job search industry. It didn’t take long to transition HR departments, IT hiring managers, and IT recruiters to reply on this platform for many of their candidate searches. The reality, however, is that you can’t be two different personalities on LinkedIn.

So this is exactly the right time to think about who you are – if you’re not clear then how is anyone else to know?

An IT Manager who is no longer technical − If you aren’t deep into the technologies but have broad knowledge of and experience with technical architectures and infrastructures then this is a strong way to position your strengths. Also, highlighting your abilities within business and technical areas without mentioning specific technologies is a great way to get noticed. Some examples include − Compliance, Data Management, Information Delivery, CRM, Systems Integration, DevOps and Culture, etc.

An IT Manager who will take on a technical role as needed − In today’s job marketplace, I rarely have a client who only manages and doesn’t step in when technical oversight is needed to get a project back on track.

Companies love this type of individual. Who doesn’t want a person who can manage and also work in a technical position? If you can mentor and guide technologists as well as fill in when a project struggles, then you are a ‘hands-on IT Manager’ and in considerable demand.

So don’t write two separate resumes, instead consolidate your skills into a single document. This doesn’t mean that your resume needs to be 5 or 6 pages. Today’s industry standard is 3 pages in a readable font. I’ve actually seen resumes that were 3 pages but in a font so small that it was agonizing to read. If you require a reader to zoom in to your resume, you have already lost them.

The primary exception to what I’ve stated above is an IT manager who works within a large organization. In those cases, one of your greatest contributions is ensuring that your teams are adequately resourced in terms of skilled and committed individuals. Yes, commitment matters. I would rather have a team member who wants to learn and grow, rather than someone who is just going though the motions.

In Summary, before you even start thinking about your resume, be clear about your strengths and weaknesses. If you can’t articulate what you want to do, then you are leaving it up the reader to make that determination for you.

The next article in this series includes specific examples of resumes for Hands-on IT Managers. See IT Resume Writing Examples

Send me your questions and I’ll provide practical recommendations that you can implement yourself. I am not a marketer so your email will not be added to any lists.


About the Author: Jennifer Hay

Here is some information about my qualifications:

ACRW through the Resume Writing Academy (
CRS+IT through Career Directors International (
CPRW through the Professional Association of Resume Writers (

You will find a number of articles on IT resume writing and IT job search best practices on my web site and LinkedIn profile.

I won a Toast of the Resume Industry (TORI) award in the technical category and later was also a TORI judge.

You can contact me at