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10 things you should know about creating a resume for a high-level IT position


This list is based on the article "Eight resume tips for the experienced IT pro." It's also available as a PDF download.

Building a resume that targets an upper-level IT position, such as architect or consultant, requires a different approach than creating a resume to land an entry-level tech job. Although many of the standard rules still apply, you need to follow some more specialized guidelines. In fact, a few of these tips may actually contradict your previous notions of what your resume should include (and exclude).

#1: Keep your list of "core skills" short and sweet

When you've worked with a lot of technologies, you want to show the world all you've done. However, having a long list of core skills actually gives the impression that you know only a little bit about most of those things and that you're a generalist, not the specialist that the potential client/employer needs. Keep this list to a handful of key skills or possibly eliminate the list altogether.

#2: Don't list certification exams

At the very least, minimize the impact of a cert list. The average IT pro might want to list exams passed to build up a resume, but for the IT veteran, this actually marginalizes real-world experience and accomplishments.

#3: Quantify projects and results

For example, if you do an Active Directory implementation, specify how many sites, domains, and servers were involved. If you designed an e-commerce system, specify the increased percentage of sales that resulted from the project. Tell the potential client/employer exactly how you helped a previous company you worked for.

#4: Take advantage of bullets

Don't use paragraph style writing to describe your projects, tasks, and duties. Bullet-point every major accomplishment or project and leave out the minor things. (Your resume is already going to be too big anyway.)

#5: Include examples of work, if possible

For instance, maybe you've written articles for an online magazine or built an e-commerce site. Include links to pertinent examples so that potential clients/employers can see firsthand what you do.

#6: Highlight major accomplishments

If you're a high-tech consultant, you may have a lot of smaller projects and clients. Maybe you were hired as a "grunt" for a couple of short-term assignments but had a major project last year. You can't exclude the small stuff or potential clients/employers will question what you've been doing. But you can minimize the impact by focusing attention on the bigger things. Some ways of doing this include using a slightly larger font, boldface, or italics, or even drawing a thin border around the major accomplishments. But don't go overboard — subtlety is still key.

#7: Seek advice from actual managers

Recruiters, agents, brokers, and human resource personnel are all different from managers. Managers want to see results, and they usually know how to spot a weak candidate. If managers think your resume reflects someone who can't do the job, you'll never get anywhere. Run your resume by some managers you know and have them critique it for you.

#8: Know when to stop

If you list all your experience from all the jobs, contracts, or projects you've handled, your resume will be more like a book. Find a place to stop listing your experience. If you feel you must at least acknowledge previous experience, try making a separate section and just bullet-point where you worked and what your title/function was. Of course, you'll usually want to do this only for the less-accomplished jobs that you don't want to highlight on your resume.

#9: Make sure your design is simple, attractive, and readable

As with any resume, you should use a clean font such as Times New Roman or Arial. Be consistent in your use of boldface, underline, or italics to help lead the reader through the document and avoid contrived graphical elements.

#10: Edit, revise, and proofread

Experts suggest that a resume should go through three to seven drafts before it begins to reflect the multidimensional individual on a piece of paper. Be grammatically correct, spell-check the document, and have someone else proofread your resume carefully.

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