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Is There a Way to Make Technologies Exciting on Your Resume?

Let's say right off the top - Technologies are boring. Can you make them more exciting? Probably not, but you can make them less boring. I have seen resumes with a page of technologies, each one listed on a different line. By the time I am halfway through them my brain is going "blah blah blah". How do you catch the employers eye and highlight your technical skills at the same time? Try these simple tips. 

Pertinent Technologies need to stand out

If the job description is asking for a certain technology then put it in your profile.  

"Over 14 years of Java development experience including 7+ years in design, development, implementation, testing, deployment and support of Java based web applications. Working knowledge of Object Oriented Design and Programming methodology. Able to learn new technologies and applications quickly."

Highlight them in each position.  

"Complete redesign of the web application suite to incorporate recommended design patterns (Front Controller, Synchronization Token, Business Delegate, DAO, Singleton, etc.), iterative preparation of project specifications and implementation, AJAX-based modification of data entry pages, estimates per clients’ requests."

Have a Technology Section on the first page of your resume. 

1.    Group your technologies by category, ie Operating Systems, Programming Languages, Scripting Languages, Databases, Tools, Hardware, Software, Methodologies, etc depending on your skills.  

2.    List the ones that are pertinent to the position you are applying for. If it is listed on the job description then it should be in your technology section.  

3.    List the technologies that are current.

4.    List the current versions of a technology especially as they are pertinent to the position you are applying for.

5.    Don't list old versions of technologies, ie Windows ME.  

6.    Don't list old technologies - there are very few jobs that use Fortran or Cobol, they don't need to be included in the technology section. 

Do you need a Technology/Tools section for each job.  

Try incorporating your technologies into the actual detail of the position. Use them with action words in your achievements. This way you don't need an actual list of Technologies/Tools for each position. It is much more interesting to read about how you used the technology then to just list them. A Technology/Tools section is just clutter, so often you are using the same tools in multiple jobs so you are just repeating the section over and over again. It ends up filling your 1 to 3 page optimum resume size up with "blah blah blah". 

Don't Lie

This applies to every section of your resume. Don't Lie. Don't exaggerate. Your technical skills should reflect your actual abilities. Trying to learn the skill as you go will almost always backfire. If your supervisor doesn't notice, your co-workers will and if you are in a position where you are supposed to be mentoring someone - watch out for the fireworks.  

It doesn't take long for an employer to find out that you don't have the experience in the technology you alluded to. Having to do a technical test is quite common nowadays, often followed by a technical interview where you will be quizzed by professionals on the required skills. If you don't have the skill all you are doing is wasting your time and theirs.  

Technologies are boring, but it is the way you use them that can be exciting. Updating 2000 desktops with the newest version of Windows without any glitches is what an employer wants to know. The employer wants to know how and when you have actually used your skills, not just see a tedious list of every technology you have ever worked with. Remember, resumes should be 2 to 3 pages telling the story of your professional life, not just a list of technologies and education. 


10 Resume Tips to Help Your Experience Stand Out

Your resume Professional Experience is the most important part of your resume. This is the section where you can shine and show off all your talents and experience.  

1.  LAYOUT

Keep the layout simple and easy to read. No Logos, No Boxes. Emoticons and clipart are not needed on your resume, they’re just clutter. If you are a graphic designer, then put those in your portfolio. Dates, Company Name, Location, Title, Detail. Repeat.

2.  SECTION TITLE

It's your PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE. You are a professional at what you do. Name the section that way. It's not "work experience".

3.  COMPANY NAME

You want people to know who you work or worked for. Putting down MGS will only be helpful for people who work in the government. If you want to use initials, then put in the name as well "MGS - Ministry of Government Services". TD - Toronto Dominion Bank. IBM is okay as IBM. Hiring Managers, Recruiters and ATS systems search on specific words. Those words may relate to a specific company, like banks, ministries, etc. Use Title Structure for your company name - i.e. capitalize each word and underline. If the company is obscure or in a different country, then putting in a 2 line write up is very helpful. 2 lines explaining what the company does, specifically industry:

"A telecom company, employing 15,000 people specializing in _____”

Start Date and Company Name are on the first line.

4.  LOCATION

City, Province, or City, State is all that is necessary. If your jobs are not in Canada or the US then you can just put down the country, i.e. United Kingdom, India, etc. 

End date and Location are on the 2nd line.

5.  TITLE

The all important "what are you" title. ALL CAPS so that it stands out. Your title should be an industry appropriate name.
Make it find-able for search strings and ATS systems. SENIOR PROGRAMMER ANALYST will tell everyone what you are, HEAD JEDI is a cute funky name, and within a company can be fun but will not be found doing a search.

6.  DESCRIPTION

Duties and Responsibilities are the same thing. The key is to make sure you aren't copying down the job description. You want to put in point form the details of what you actually do on a day to day basis. The important ones, not every little detail. Start every point off with an action word, "Updated, Implemented, Created". Don't start sentences off with an "I", instead you should be using the action word. Don't put in the heading "Duties or Responsibilities" just start off with the points (or if needed the 2-sentence company introduction as mentioned above followed by your points). Don't overdo the points, 5 to 10 at the most.  

Follow the duties/responsibilities with your actual ACHIEVEMENTS. Put a heading down for your achievements after your last point. Then list your achievements. 

 "Designed and implemented the company's new webpage on schedule using ____".

7.  DATES

Start date and end date, use actual month not the number, i.e. January 2000. I put the start date on the same line as the Company name with the end date on the same line as the company location. This way the job title stands out by itself. 

8. WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU HAVE HAD MORE THAN ONE POSITION IN A COMPANY?

Your first heading shows your original start and end dates. This allows the hiring manager/recruiter to see your length of service with the company. Beside your title put your service dates for each position. The first position should be your most recent position.  

For each following position instead of putting down the company name use "Same Company". Again this helps to show longevity within the company.  

 

9.  SELF EMPLOYED VS PERMANENT POSITIONS

If you are a professional contractor then we group all your clients, projects, companies under a blanket heading of Self-Employed. Contractors can have a ton of short engagements, if they are all listed with dates down the side, first glance can make you look like you change jobs a lot. As you can see in the example below grouping them leaves no room for judgement. You are a professional contractor.

 

10.  BE ACCURATE

Don't embellish, exaggerate or LIE. When your references are called, they will be asked details from your resume. Did he/she do this? The last thing you want is your reference being put in a position to lie about what you did.  


Are You Using the Right People for Your References?

"Employment references are professionals who can comment on your personal character, work ethic, past work experiences and abilities to perform specific duties."

It's important to have your references prepped and ready to go as you move into the job hunting, career change stage of your life. Being given a job offer and then scampering around trying to find appropriate references and their contact information won't give a good impression to your new bosses. You don't have to hand in your references until you are asked for them which is usually at the verbal job offer stage, but they should be all ready to go.  

"Almost 60% of employers claim that they have had to withdraw an offer of employment after receiving poor references about successful applicants. " - monster.com

Who to Use for Your Professional Reference?

The first choice would always be your current supervisor. This is an easy choice if your partner has just been transferred to another city and you are relocating. A little more difficult if you are looking for a new job because you want a change, specifically of boss. Your reference doesn't have to be a "manager", it could be a more "senior" co-worker who is working with you on your current project. If your reference is from a previous position then a supervisor/manager would be the best choice.  

Start off by making a list of people you have worked with in the past and had a good relationship with. List the projects you worked on that were completed successfully and who your supervisor and co-workers were. Check out your previous performance reviews, which supervisors were complimentary towards you. If there are individuals on this list who can also relate to the new position you are applying for - great.  

Get Back in Touch

Thank goodness for LinkedIn, it has made keeping in touch with previous co-workers much easier. But finding them on LinkedIn isn't enough. You need to actually call these individuals and ask them if they remember you and if they will give you a reference. If you have lost touch, you want to reconnect and build your relationship back up.  

When you are talking to them explain the position you are applying for. Reconnect about old projects you worked on together. Give them a heads up when you get to the job offer stage, so they can be expecting the call. We all deal with telemarketers and the last thing you want is your reference thinking your potential employer is a telemarketer and hanging up on them.  

Include on your list their name, company, position and a day and night time contact number. Ask them if there is a time preference for receiving a phone call. This list should look professional, a white clean 8 x 11 piece of paper, not names on little post-its.

Prepare Your References with What Information Can Be Provided About You 

References will be called so make sure they are prepared. Large companies use reference services to do their reference checks. Companies who use Recruiters will sometimes have the recruiting company do the reference checks or the actual hiring managers will call. Either way there are only certain things they can ask in a reference check. Make sure your reference is going to give you glowing comments about the following questions:

  • Length of employment?
  • Previous job title?
  • Brief details of responsibility?
  • Overall performance?
  • Time-keeping and attendance?
  • Reason for leaving?
  • Would you re-hire this employee?
  • Keep in Touch

Follow up with your references after you start your job with a big thank you and remember to stay in touch. You never know when you may need a reference again. Or you may want to go and work for them in the future.  

Keep Your Reference List Up to Date

New references from your most current jobs, volunteer or community experience should keep getting added to your reference list with up-to-date contact information. But that doesn't mean you lose track of your older references. Network, Network, Network! You never know when you may be able to help someone from your past or they may be able to help you.


Your Resume Checklist

 

Before you submit that resume, have a 2nd and a 3rd look. Once you send it there is no way to get it back, so proofread, proofread, proofread! Verify everything you need is mentioned in the resume. Below are some do's and don'ts to help you with your resume submission.

  • Your name (first and last) is bolded on the first page, followed by contact information (town/city, country, phone, email, LinkedIn) in a smaller font. On subsequent pages include your name, email and phone number in a smaller font at the top of the resume.
  • Do not include personal information like: marital status, children, father's name (yes I have seen it on resumes), passport number or SIN number.
  • How long is your Professional Profile? Keep it to 1 paragraph, 5 to 6 sentences and possibly a couple of bullets. Make sure they highlight the skills you have that match the job you are applying for. A 1-page profile will lose the interest of the recruiter after about the 5th line. Keep it short and concise.
  • Is your Education listed with the highest degree on the top, followed by certifications and training in reverse chronological order?
  • If you are applying for a technical position. This is a good spot to list your most current technologies. Needless to say if there are specific technical skills in the job ad and you have them, then put them in here so they will stand out.
  • The next section should be your Professional Experience. Again, the jobs should be listed in reverse chronological order, with the most current position first.
  • Do your achievements start with action words: Develop, Create, Built, Performed, Managed, Coordinated, etc. Here is a webpage with 100's of action words: http://jobmob.co.il/blog/positive-resume-action-verbs/ or just type "List of Action Words" in Google.
  • NEVER NEVER NEVER start a sentence with "I" or "your name". "John created a test plan and test cases" or "I created a test plan and test cases" should become: Created a test plan and test cases.
  • Put your keywords from the job ad in your achievements as often as you can. If the job is looking for someone who has worked on an "on-line banking system" then say so. Created detailed test plans for the CIBC On-line Banking System using Mercury Tools.
  • Tell them how much you enjoyed the interview and that you are looking forward to their call.
  • If you notice that it is taking you a long time to read your resume, then it is probably too long, cut it down to 2 or 3 pages. You can always put in a line that says: Detailed job information from 1999 and back is available upon request.
  • Hobbies - not needed on the resume. This is a question that may come up at the interview to get the conversation going. Be careful what you tell them. Reading, Golf, Skiing, etc are probably good topics of conversation. Telling your interviewer that you like to go to the casino every Saturday night might set off some warning bells for him/her.
  • References - don't go on the resume, in fact don't even put in the line "references available upon request", that's a known.
  • Take out the graphics, logos, graphs, pictures.
  • Don't include a letter from your mother, yes it has happened.
  • Don't lie on your resume, this is a legal document.
  • Have someone proofread it, have them read the job ad as well. You want to make sure your points address the job description.

Resumes can be adapted to different jobs/positions that you are applying for. But remember to always tell the truth!