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Building a strong IT resume

Ultimately a resume has one purpose – to secure an interview. Your resume is the way that you demonstrate your skills and experience match the job spec, so you owe it to yourself to give it the attention it deserves.

Your resume is how you present yourself to both recruiters and potential hiring managers. Both make split second decisions while reading your resume. So keep it short, simple and impactful.

Top tips for a successful IT resume

  1. Keep it simple & error free

  2. Be personal – it’s all about you

  3. Sell yourself. Be proud of your achievements

  4. Be accurate. Don’t over exaggerate

  5. Don’t write a novel

  6. Keep it current

  7. Use social media to your advantage

  8. Don’t skip any essentials

  9. Plan your strategy for references

Keep it simple & error free

When writing your resume don’t use fancy fonts, backgrounds, layouts or designs. Stick to the basics, like Times New Roman or Arial. Often resumes are skim-read, so keep the format uncluttered and easy-to-read. Use bullet points effectively.

It's pretty common for employers to disregard a poorly presented resume so make sure you proof read it! Give it to others to review and then proof read it again. Spell check and in particular make sure you have spelt the technologies correctly. You would be amazed how many people can’t spell the technologies they are an expert in!

Be personal – it’s all about you

Make your resume professional but personal. Use first person (use the word “I”) rather than the more formal third person (John Smith). Make sure you are accurate on what you were  accountable for and what you achieved. People hire for cultural fit and technical skills, make sure you bring some vibe for how you work not just what you do. (eg a natural collaborator )

Sell yourself. Be proud of your achievements

Show relevance and evidence of your skills and experience to convince the reader that you are the right person for the job, that you have thought about it, and that you can solve their problems.

Use lots of action words – achieved, initiated, prepared, developed, managed etc. Avoid using clichés  like 'delivers results'– these do little to distinguish you from other job seekers.

Quantify your experience wherever you can. Cite improvements, technical achievements and outcomes. Use concise, concrete examples to demonstrate accomplishments within the organisation that were directly attributable to your work.

Be accurate. Don’t over exaggerate

Make sure every sentence you write is specific to you and your skills – don’t over exaggerate what you can and can’t do. If your resume is incorrect or misleading, your application won’t be successful.

Many employers have formal background checks that cover the last 10 years of employment. Technical testing is used by employers to verify skills and experience. Larger employers have sophisticated application tracking systems and recruiters have increasingly sophisticated knowledge management systems as well as closer integration with social media. One small ‘over exaggeration’ could really impact your integrity and future reputation.

Don’t write a novel

Include all the essential information, but keep it concise. We recommend resumes should be no longer than 4 pages in total. The emphasis should be on the last 3-5 years of employment. Hiring managers are hiring you for your current skills more than what you used to do. Compress the information more than 10 years back into a brief 'Highlights from Earlier Roles" section.

Keep it current

Try to update your resume every 12 months. You never know when you’ll be looking for another job. It’s much easier to accurately remember what you’ve done in the last 12 months  than trying to think about what you achieved three years ago.

When updating your resume don’t just add your most recent job. You'll also have to review or remove detailed content from further down. Read your whole resume through from the beginning to avoid any gaps or inconsistencies.  Check certifications and professional memberships are up-to-date. Look for places where you might have information listed in more than one place, such as in the summary or a skills table.

Use social media to your advantage

Social media sites can help or hinder your chances of a job.

LinkedIn profiles provide great opportunities for skills exposure and may be the resume of the future. Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and that it matches what you say about yourself elsewhere. The skills list is important for job search functions and performance on 'LinkedIn easy apply'

Connecting to Spark’s corporateLinkedIn profile is a great way of networking other IT professionals and finding out about potential jobs.

But also beware that social media can also make information that you consider private to actually be very public. Do a quick online search to check what information is publicly available. Consider what your Facebook page might say about you to a potential employer? Not all employers will research you online but it’s worth adjusting settings on Facebook and other social media sites in order to protect your privacy.

Remember the resume essentials

Not sure what to include in your resume? We’ve outlined the resume essentials so you don’t miss out anything important.

Page 1 : 

A brief summary which introduces you at a glance.

This should include:                 

  • Personal details  &  Job Title (name & contact details)

  • Professional Profile  (short paragraph outlining your background and what you bring to an organisation)

  • Skill summary (simple bullet points/paragraph)

  • Career Summary (short table with companies and dates)

  • Education/Qualifications/industry certifications (can also be at the end)

  • Visa Information (if relevant)

Please note that in Australia due it is not standard practice to include personal details such as birth date, age, marital status etc. due to discrimination laws.

Page 2-3

An overview of your recent career in chronological order.

Include the organisation you worked for, what it does, a description of your role and your achievements. Make sure your skills and accomplishments jump out of the document. Don’t forget to include any employer awards you received.

Often in IT it's critical to sort information by project.

Always put the month and year you started and finished each role. 2003-2004 could cover two years or two months.

For technical positions, some people recommend including a technical summary or competency matrix, listing the skill set, level achieved and years experience. This should be updated regularly. Be proud of your achievements, but avoid overselling your skills.

We recommend that you include detail of the technical environment in your overview of the role/projects and then evidence of where and when you used the technology. This helps the reader to understand your skills better than a shopping list of technologies that typically end up being out of date.

Other relevant experience

It's great to showcase other initiatives or achievements that are relevant to your career

Examples include Github accounts, participation in industry competitions (hackathons), volunteer work, Board Memberships etc.

Plan your strategy for references

Your references deserve careful consideration. Most jobs do not require referee details until the final stages, however some, especially Government, require them at the application stage. They should be up-to-date and relevant to the role you are applying for. Check with referees before including their details on your resume. Employers prefer references from previous managers and often won’t accept personal references.

It is perfectly acceptable to write “Referees are available on request” on your resume.