Tech & Work

Cut the fluff from your resume

When composing a resume, IT pros with a lot of experience seem to get carried away. Your resume should be brief and highlight experience that is directly related to the job you're applying for.

Over the next couple of days, we'll be going over some resume tips. (Later this week, I'll also run the results of our poll for IT managers as to whether they read the Summary/Objectives part at the top of resumes.)

Resumes can be difficult to get right, especially if you fall into one of two groups:

  • Those with so much experience that it's hard to focus the resume.
  • Those with too little experience who need a way to disguise it.

Today, we'll give tips for the former — the IT pro with too much experience who needs help with putting it all in the right light. Tomorrow, we'll cover how to write a resume that downplays lack of experience.

Since the attention span of resume reviewers is notoriously short, you need to make sure your resume is not too long. Your resume's goal is to bring your expertise to the attention of the person looking at it. Make sure information like companies worked for, job titles, and timelines are prominently displayed. Bulleted points that briefly describe duties and results are better than long paragraphs. You should keep each bulleted graph to two or three lines.

A resume rule-of-thumb is to limit it to two pages as a maximum length. If you feel that you must provide extensive details about a job, put them on a separate piece of paper and present them at the interview.

Fight resume fluff. Everything needs to build toward something, and you should be prepared to defend anything you've committed to print.

With your resume, 80 percent should focus on results produced in each job, with the remaining 20 percent dedicated to duties and responsibilities. For example, this statement:

Reorganized and restructured the mid and back office support teams resulting in a 20% reduction in personnel.

Could be rewritten like this:

Saved $235,000 annually ($705,000 since 1999) with 20% headcount reduction by reorganizing and restructuring the mid- and back-office support teams.

Always try to add quantifiers when you can. If your project saved the company money, mention it. If it finished weeks early, mention it. Any time the results of your actions can be mentioned, do it.

Last, always tweak your resume for the position you're applying for. If you're an IT generalist but you're applying for a sys admin job, you don't need to spend a lot of time describing desktop publishing skills.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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