Technology Resume Advice that Sucks

Everyone has an opinion about how to create a great resume. People will seek the advice of friends and colleagues to determine if their technology resume is up to snuff. I’ve been an IT Resume Writer for Software Engineers, Data Engineers, Data Scientists, and Project Managers (etc!) for over 10 years. I still get IT resume drafts returned with comments from spouses, parents, neighbors, friends, friends of friends, siblings – basically everyone in their family tree and beyond.

What I hear most commonly is that they trust their opinion even though they don’t work in technology. These comments are most beneficial when they have a close relationship with my client. They help me to understand that person’s core soft skills. After all, I do work with many introverts who are shy when speaking about themselves.

Problems arise when they try to apply general resume advise to a technical resume. A resume for a software engineer is completely different from a resume for an accountant and even an IT manager resume is different from a business manager. Let’s take a look at some of the bad advise.

Avoid non-dynamic words, such as managed and coordinated.

Some articles will tell you to avoid these types of words because they sound passive and don’t demonstrate how a person is actively engaged in an activity. Speaking for all of my IT project managers out there, my response is “really?” “REALLY! That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Project managers “manage” and “coordinate” and it’s a valuable contribution.

Avoid ‘results driven’ because everyone is expected to deliver results.

Well, there are results and then there are RESULTS. As an IT professional, you know that it’s often difficult to define the quantitative business value that you’ve delivered, unless there happens to be a cost savings involved.

When you expand your focus to include the technical value you’ve provided, then it opens up a lot of possibilities. For one of my clients, I used a Before and After table to show their great technical achievements. In the actual resume, this list contained 6 items.

Results-driven DBA, for one of the largest credit card processors in the world.

  • From 3 unscheduled database outages that each lasted 24+ hours, to zero unscheduled outages over the last 8 years.
  • From a long database backup and over 24 hours to restore, to about a one-minute backup and 15-30 minutes to restore.

Avoid ‘hardworking’ because everyone is supposed to work hard.

Until recently, I had never used this particular word in a resume. I had a client who was a software developer and had received her degree in Computer Science from a distinguished university. She went to school full-time, while also working full-time in a position that required a high level of competency to resolve problems.

She succeeded by being diligent, hardworking, and conscientious. She chose “hardworking” as one of her three core strengths. I would have been remiss not to include it in her resume, I included specific examples which described how the company benefited from her strengths – diligent, hardworking, and conscientious.

Avoid ‘detail oriented’ because it sounds very common.

Not everyone is detail oriented and in IT this is a great characteristic.

For project managers, I typically don’t use this phrase because some people get so involved in a task, they are not able to step back and see the overall picture. If my client has the combined ability to work at a detailed level while also being able to see the “big” picture, then I include it along with an explanation about how the company benefits.

To be successful, testers and programmers need to be detailed oriented. If this phrase does a great job of describing my client, then I’ll include it in the resume along with supporting information about how they utilize this particular quality.

Technology Resume Summary

The point of this article is to let you know there are few hard and fast rules in resume writing. Hiring managers aren’t “certified” in candidate selection. They are individuals who each have different perspectives and they can’t be easily categorized. Just use your common sense when writing your resume and you’ll be way ahead of the competition.