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What to Include in An IT Resume
There are two basic resume styles, and each serves job seekers differently.
The chronological resume is best suited for the individual who has no employment gaps and who is continuing in their current sector of IT. This is also the most commonly used format, and is most familiar to hiring managers. The sections for a chronological resume are:
- Contact info (name/phone/email)
- Resume summary
- Work experience
A functional resume works best for IT professionals who are ready for a career change, or those who may have perceived gaps in employment. This perception comes from the fact that many individuals in the industry do contract work through IT consulting firms, and many of those contracts are short-term. Communicating this in a list of previous employment, it would appear at first glance that you may be job-hopping and that you have lots of career intermissions. To avoid that misconception, a functional resume allows you to describe achievements and abilities under an additional section named “Accomplishments.” With so much detail in the accomplishments section, the work experience will be more like a simple list of previous jobs. For contract work, the consulting firm could be shown as the employer, and the clients where you were placed could be identified under that heading.
The sections for a functional resume are:
- Contact info (name/phone/email)
- Resume summary
- Accomplishments (new section)
- Work Experience
You can examine both styles as you review IT resume samples to determine which will best represent your qualifications.
How to Write the IT Resume Summary Statement
Refer to the job description, and use the employer’s desired skills as a key to know which of yours to highlight, but be honest. It does no good to get the interview if you can’t substantiate your claims.
The whole idea of the resume summary is to let the hiring manager see you as a potential employee so they’ll continue reading. Below are two resume summary samples of IT professionals in different sectors of the industry:
Network systems administrator with 15 years experience. Determined organizational needs and made recommendations within budget restrictions, installed network hardware and software, and upgraded where necessary. Continually evaluated system for better performance and ensured computer system security. Researched and advised organization on future hardware and software upgrades. Ensured email and data storage networks worked properly so the business could continue to function at full potential.
Experienced information security analyst heavily involved in heading-off cyber attacks by staying up to date on methods of infiltration. Monitored network for security breaches, recommended software such as firewalls and data encryption programs, and conducted simulated attacks to identify vulnerabilities before they could be exploited. While it’s difficult to prove a negative, there were no security breaches.
How to Write the IT Education Section
As you list your education, your highest level of education should be listed first.
You may want to create two sub-headings following your formal education. The first, if it applies, would be certifications. Many programming languages offer certification programs, and if the job opportunity you’re applying for lists C/C++ as a requirement and you’re certified, make sure it’s on your resume.
The second sub-heading, if it applies, would be memberships. There are national organizations, like the Association of Information Technology Professionals, that will not only look good on your resume, but could help your career as well. In addition, depending on the software or programming language you use, there are usually local user groups you could join that would expand your networking capabilities as well as your skills.
For ideas on the format that suits your style, review the IT resume samples you’ve already identified.
How to Write the IT Work Experience Section
No matter which style you choose, it’s important to identify the employer’s requirements and match your accomplishments and skills to their needs. Match the skills they’ve identified with the skills you have to offer, as long as you’re honest.
In the chronological style, you’ll list each job heading with the name and location of the company, period of employment, and your job title. Under each job, list 3-6 bullet points that quantify your contribution to the department or the company. If you created a system that saved time and reduced errors, that’s great, but if you can measure the savings in dollars, even better.
If you’ve done more contract work that direct employment, it’s probably best to choose the functional style. The actual work experience section will be a simple list of positions held, and the bulk of your experience detail will be included in the accomplishments section. By creating 6-8 bullet points describing your achievements that happen to mirror the potential employer’s required skills, you’ll be perceived as an ideal candidate. In both resume styles, it’s important to point to measurable results.
Action Verbs to Include in Your IT Work Experience Section
A quick scan of the IT resume samples you’ve identified will reveal additional industry-related action verbs you may not have considered.
How to Write the IT Skills Section
- Computer Systems Analyst Skills
- Database Administrator Skills
- Digital Media Skills
- Information Security Analyst Skills
- Software Developer Skills
If there are additional details you want to add to a given category, to save space on the page, you could format it like this:
Software Developer Skills:
C#, .NET, and C++ programming; write and analyze SQL queries; estimate project cost; execute test; and troubleshoot.
It’s critical that you use the same wording in your skills section as the employer used in the job description. Since many companies use applicant tracking systems that are programmed to recognize keywords, you’ll increase your chances of making it through to a human being if you use the same words, as long as you actually have those skills.
You may think your technical skills are the most important, but technical proficiency alone won’t get the interview. Soft skills, especially if you’re applying for a management position, are critical. These skills include communication, listening, mentoring, flexibility, creativity, and negotiation. For more ideas on both technical and management skills, and how best to format them, take a look at your IT resume samples.
Should I Include References in my IT Resume
- When an employer requests your references, you’ll know they’re interested.
- You can tell your references to be prepared to receive a call.
- You can ask them to confirm when they’ve received the call and what questions were asked.
References should be one or two former supervisors or managers, and if you performed contract work through a consulting firm, your contact there would be a good addition to your list as well.
IT Resume Fails: Mistakes to Avoid
- Don’t focus on your technical skills to the detriment of your written communication skills. Reserve the first-person pronouns like we, and me for your cover letter. Your resume is a more formal document. Refer to IT resume samples for the proper voice.
- Because of the complex nature of many IT projects and the potentially long list of skills and software languages, it might be tempting to let your resume go to three or even four pages, but don’t do it. By using formatting techniques and editing, you should be able to keep it to a maximum of two pages. You can expand on your qualifications during the interview.
- Proofread your resume. Then proofread again. Then have a friend proofread. Typos and mistakes jump off the page when a potential employer is reading your resume.
- Don’t talk about what you’re looking for in an employer. At this point, it all about what the employer is looking for in a candidate.