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How to format an IT resumé

How to format an IT resumé

The dos and don'ts of writing an effective IT resumé, including length and what to include

Have you ever confidently sent your CV off to a recruiter, knowing you were perfect for that role, and wondered why you didn’t get a call back?

IT professionals are uncomfortable with blowing their own trumpet, and most aren’t keen on advertising. So, when it comes to putting together an advertisement about ourselves, it’s probably no surprise that we don’t always do well.

But your resumé is, in many cases, your first – or possibly your only – impression and it’s critical to get it right. So how do you best format an IT resumé?

“The most important aspect is to create interest from potential employers and stand out from the others,” says Jodie Gillespie, manager, IT division at Robert Walters. “More often than not there is not enough time spent asking ‘what is my purpose with this resumé?’ A resumé needs to highlight your responsibilities and what you have achieved in order to show the benefit you can bring to [the potential employer].”

When it comes to length and detail, more is not always better, says Peter Noblet, senior regional director at Hays in Asia Pacific.

“Long, lengthy CVs are not required. Work on a maximum of four pages,” he says. “You see guys who have been working for a long time [include] every single project they’ve been on [in their resumé], which isn’t required.”

Gillespie agrees, saying that the most relevant qualifications for the position should be clearly listed and major projects or accomplishments should be highlighted. He also suggests listing only the most relevant and core technologies used for projects, not a long list of out-dated technologies used many years ago.

Adrian Lund, general manager of ADAPS suggests there is greater freedom with CV length. “Australian CVs tend to be no less than two pages and no more than 10 pages, dependent on experience. It’s important for a CV to be concise, but ensure that enough detail is provided to make sure the reader understands the candidate’s main skills and how they’ve been used in practice,” he says.

“We want to see actual real-life experience, an ability to say ‘this was my role in the project’,” says Noblet. Rather than just describing the project, we want to know what the technology level was at. What did they contribute to the project? What was the ROI? What was your role, your hands-on capability?

“If you’re a project manager or program director we want to know the size of project you were responsible for. Did you deliver it on time? What were the technologies you rolled out? What was your experience with internal and external stakeholders? Did you have to manage things like contract negotiation and service delivery?”

No matter how extensive your experience is, you need to remember to get the basics right. Spelling, grammar and accuracy all create an impression of who you are.

“From a client’s perspective, spelling mistakes may indicate that a candidate is sloppy; copying and pasting slabs of text may indicate laziness,” counsels Lund. “We have clients who specifically ask us to send through the candidates own unchanged CV so they can see how the candidate is able to communicate their worth.”

“Simple elements are important – clear font, one size, and well-structured layout,” adds Gillespie. “Your work history should be ordered first to last with five to six short bullet points clearly defining your responsibilities”.

Finally, don’t forget the importance of social media. For most employers, LinkedIn is the first place they will look before deciding whether to meet with you for an interview, whether you like it or not.

“Social media is a key part of it. Some people think it’s not appropriate but it’s in the public domain, so of course it is,” says Noblet.

“But what you can do is use that to heighten your profile. If you’re engaged in discussions and user groups, then I can go and see how much you’ve interacted and that sets people apart in a good way.”

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