CXO

Specific objectives and keywords make tech resumes stand out

To help you create better resumes, we've asked an expert from Dice.com to critique member CVs. Take a look at the advice she offered about this net admin's objective and keywords.


You've probably heard some of the demoralizing statistics about how quickly resumes are scanned and evaluated by prospective employers. Most estimates say hiring officials spend 30 seconds or less looking at the information you probably spent hours putting on paper. You may have the skills and credentials that could get you in the door, but you have a mighty brief window of opportunity to catch the recruiter's eye. Fortunately, you can rely on the advice of career experts to refine your resume and boost its chances of landing in an inbox instead of a landfill.

Susan Simcox is a writer and editor for Dice.com, an online career site for technology professionals. She currently writes the DiceAdvisor newsletter, covering career-related topics for the tech industry. She provided several suggestions for improving a resume sent in by a TechRepublic member who works as a network administrator.

Figure A shows the member’s resume, with names and locations changed to protect his anonymity. You can use Simcox’s recommendations to improve your resume and increase callbacks for interviews.

State your objective specifically
When you send a resume in response to a specific job, tailor it to fit the position you're applying for. It may seem counterintuitive, because narrowing your resume would seem to limit your options. But employers are looking for a person who wants—and is qualified—to do the job they have available, not someone who will do anything.

What do you want to do? Your objective should answer that question and tell a potential employer what you have to offer.
Figure A
A TechRepublic member submitted this sample resume.

Highlight your expertise by using keywords in a skills summary
Simcoxsaid this member’s resume is good because it shows career growth and progressively responsible experience, but it needs more details. These specifics may be included in a separate section called “Technology Skills Summary” or just included as bullet points.

For example, the phrase “a variety of platforms” won’t get picked up in a recruiter’s keyword search. Instead, use something like “a variety of platforms including Windows 2000, UNIX…” to provide tech-centric keywords that managers are looking for.

You can get a good idea of the skills employers are seeking by browsing through a few posted job descriptions that match your qualifications. Your resume should use the type of language they do. For example, when she looked for net admin jobs on Dice.com, Simcox found phrases such as:
  • Monitor and maintain all servers
  • Administer systems, remote access, network and applications accounts and rights
  • Train staff in the use of the network systems
  • Provide detailed documentation of all implementations, changes, and solutions

Obviously, you want to include only the things you have done, but reviewing a few job descriptions will give you a better idea of the kind of qualifications companies are looking for.

Punctuation and spelling count
This resume also has a number of spelling and grammatical errors. Don’t rely on technology—like spell-checkers—to catch mistakes. And don’t automatically accept corrections that your word processing program suggests—they're not always correct. In addition, watch for random capitalization in the middle of sentences. Simcox said she’s seen this problem frequently in resumes.

Finally, it’s important to be consistent with punctuation throughout your resume. Some of the bullet points in this resume have periods and some don’t. Either way may be fine, but choose one method and use it throughout your document.

Would you like your resume critiqued?
If you’re a support pro or network administrator and you’d like to improve your resume, send it to us.

 

You've probably heard some of the demoralizing statistics about how quickly resumes are scanned and evaluated by prospective employers. Most estimates say hiring officials spend 30 seconds or less looking at the information you probably spent hours putting on paper. You may have the skills and credentials that could get you in the door, but you have a mighty brief window of opportunity to catch the recruiter's eye. Fortunately, you can rely on the advice of career experts to refine your resume and boost its chances of landing in an inbox instead of a landfill.

Susan Simcox is a writer and editor for Dice.com, an online career site for technology professionals. She currently writes the DiceAdvisor newsletter, covering career-related topics for the tech industry. She provided several suggestions for improving a resume sent in by a TechRepublic member who works as a network administrator.

Figure A shows the member’s resume, with names and locations changed to protect his anonymity. You can use Simcox’s recommendations to improve your resume and increase callbacks for interviews.

State your objective specifically
When you send a resume in response to a specific job, tailor it to fit the position you're applying for. It may seem counterintuitive, because narrowing your resume would seem to limit your options. But employers are looking for a person who wants—and is qualified—to do the job they have available, not someone who will do anything.

What do you want to do? Your objective should answer that question and tell a potential employer what you have to offer.
Figure A
A TechRepublic member submitted this sample resume.

Highlight your expertise by using keywords in a skills summary
Simcoxsaid this member’s resume is good because it shows career growth and progressively responsible experience, but it needs more details. These specifics may be included in a separate section called “Technology Skills Summary” or just included as bullet points.

For example, the phrase “a variety of platforms” won’t get picked up in a recruiter’s keyword search. Instead, use something like “a variety of platforms including Windows 2000, UNIX…” to provide tech-centric keywords that managers are looking for.

You can get a good idea of the skills employers are seeking by browsing through a few posted job descriptions that match your qualifications. Your resume should use the type of language they do. For example, when she looked for net admin jobs on Dice.com, Simcox found phrases such as:
  • Monitor and maintain all servers
  • Administer systems, remote access, network and applications accounts and rights
  • Train staff in the use of the network systems
  • Provide detailed documentation of all implementations, changes, and solutions

Obviously, you want to include only the things you have done, but reviewing a few job descriptions will give you a better idea of the kind of qualifications companies are looking for.

Punctuation and spelling count
This resume also has a number of spelling and grammatical errors. Don’t rely on technology—like spell-checkers—to catch mistakes. And don’t automatically accept corrections that your word processing program suggests—they're not always correct. In addition, watch for random capitalization in the middle of sentences. Simcox said she’s seen this problem frequently in resumes.

Finally, it’s important to be consistent with punctuation throughout your resume. Some of the bullet points in this resume have periods and some don’t. Either way may be fine, but choose one method and use it throughout your document.

Would you like your resume critiqued?
If you’re a support pro or network administrator and you’d like to improve your resume, send it to us.

 

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