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IT Resume Makeover: Find focus by building a theme

IT Resume Makeover: Find focus by building a theme

The longer your career, the more difficult it can be to pull out the right details to create a focused resume. Finding a common theme that runs through your experience, can help guide the process.

Do you have trouble establishing a cohesive focus for your resume? That was the case for this IT Resume Makeover candidate, Bhairav Sampath, whose name has been changed for this article. He knew his resume needed to offer some clarity on what he brings to the table.

Laura Smith-Proulx, career and resume expert, set out to find a focus for Sampath's resume, and after a few conversations, she quickly realized Sampath was selling himself short. Once she started digging into Sampath's long list of accomplishments, she was able to extract the unique traits that make him stand out as a desirable candidate.

Digging into his career history

[ Download original senior IT leader resume ]

Smith-Proulx first focused on establishing Sampath's goals for the resume makeover. Sampath noted that he wanted to stay in India and pursue either full-time or consulting positions, so she kept that in mind while rebuilding his resume.

"Sampath included many details of his projects in his existing resume, but the arrangement of details was difficult to follow. It was also focused more on project management than the higher-level, strategic program management job that fit his qualifications," says Smith-Proulx.

By drilling down into his career history, Smith-Proulx gained a better picture of what Sampath had to offer and what set him apart from other candidates -- most notably, his leadership skills.

"His existing resume mentioned that he had led large projects affecting major corporations, but it wasn't obvious until digging into the details that some of these initiatives required dealing with major risks and obstacles," she says.

Smith-Proulx knew she wanted to emphasize Sampath's ability to work on large projects, lead teams and manage sensitive initiatives -- thus, better positioning him as a leader qualified for high-level positions. And Sampath agreed, noting that he was "limiting himself in his resume," by not fully expanding on his own skills and experience.

[ Related story: IT Resume Makeover: Knowing what to showcase ]

Building focus

Smith-Proulx decided to build the resume around Sampath's experience with problem-solving, critical thinking and leadership. These are the attributes she felt would set identify him as a leader in his field and as a highly qualified candidate.

"I implemented a focus on the size and scope of the projects and deployments Sampath had led, as well as his involvement at a strategic level in the planning and handoff to customers. As these customers included Fortune-ranked corporations and household names, it was important to show the resulting impact at an enterprise level," she says.

She also emphasized his abilities to continually work with "multiple stakeholders" and executives to convey program status. Sampath notes that he hadn't considered this "angle" for his resume, but that working with an expert forced him to "bring out those hidden points."

[ Related story: IT Resume Makeover: Don't downplay your success ]

Reformatting the final document

To deliver a clearer picture of Sampath's experience and accomplishments, Smith-Proulx says she "provided navigation points throughout the resume that showed Siva's work in meeting stakeholder needs, expediting projects, leading large teams, and upgrading existing systems."

She also reorganized some of the finer points on Sampath's resume, grouping accomplishments and skills under different headers. Since he also expressed interest in staying in India, she decided to remove his US visa information, avoiding any potential confusion for hiring managers.

Download the finished version of this senior IT leader's resume

[ Download the finished version of this senior IT leader's resume ]

"I also grouped the technologies with which he was familiar, helping the reader navigate the document and quickly see how having Siva take charge of a program could affect their business," she says.

Sampath was surprised at his own accomplishments when he saw them reorganized and focused on the final resume. He felt the final product was easy to read and clearly demonstrated his achievements for any recruiter or hiring manager.

Smith-Proulx helped Sampath create a document that will guide the reader through his career story, demonstrating his unique leadership qualities. By moving past a list of bullet points, Smith-Proulx says Sampath has "enabled the reader to grasp Sampath's qualifications beyond the project-to-project details."

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