Thursday, August 28, 2008

How to Write a Resume for Technology Positions

I've been on both sides of the fence when it comes to resumes. And currently, I have to both submit documentation outlining experience when applying for contract positions as well as reviewing resumes when hiring new employees for internal positions.

There are almost endless resources on the internet that will help you create a resume so step one:

1. Use Online Resources
This includes finding a good looking template to start working from and researching an appropriate format.

2. Spell Check - do it now - do it often - do it three times before you send out your resume. If you can't be bothered to correct spelling and grammar mistakes before applying for a job I don't even want to consider the quality of work you'll be submitting.

3. Edit your experience - you're applying for a high tech position. Experience from 1980 is almost never relevant. Neither is experience from 1990. Experience from 2000 is questionable. If you feel its necessary to list experience from over 5 years ago keep it very short and make sure its relevant to the job. When you list experience make sure you concisely detail the key points of the position and any accomplishments - concisely.

4. Edit your skills - a laundry list of skills looks like you don't do anything well. Have a short skill section and list things you are an expert in, and then state that you're an expert. You may want to have an additional section of technologies you're familiar with but if you have 50 entries in the skills section you won't have to search for jobs, they'll come to you.

5. Edit for length - really try to keep it under 3 pages. If its longer and you have an "interests section" remove it. That can be addressed during the interview.

6. Formatting - Make sure your name, phone number and address are clearly labelled on every page.

7. Write a concise cover letter. Aim for 2-3 paragraphs and about half a page. Introduce yourself, explain 2-3 key points about yourself and describe why you want the job and why you're a good fit for the position.

8. Spell Check - twice

Now most of the above is relatively obvious, but now that many positions are applied for over e-mail there are other considerations.

9. File Format - PDF or DOC (MS Word). That's it. And don't use the new Word 2007 format - its not wide spread enough and its easy enough for you to save your file in the previous Word format. Also don't compress your file - I received a resume just today compressed using the RAR format. Don't assume reading the resumes will know how to open uncommon file types. If you're concerned the attachment will be blocked post it online and provide a link to your resume in the e-mail.

10. File Name - this is very important. Use your name in the file name. We keep digital copies of the resumes and having 30 different files named "resume.doc" doesn't help us search through them quickly. I would recommend using your full name, the date and the word "resume" in the file name.

11. E-mail address - when sending the e-mail address make sure you're sending from an address that makes you look professional. There's no point starting out on the wrong foot. Make a new Hotmail or Gmail account if necessary.

12. E-mail body - I would recommend a short description stating the job you're applying for and contact information. Everything else should already be in the resume and cover letter and doesn't need to be restated.

13. Before Sending - Spell Check

14. And one last check before pressing that send button - never, ever spell the name of the company you're applying to incorrectly. Check it now.

Good Luck!

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