Tech & Work

IT manager resumes should skip the frills and get down to business

Many IT managers make the common mistake of underemphasizing their management skills on their resumes. An IT headhunter offers a few tips on writing a winning resume for IT pros in the management ranks.

If you are applying for an IT management position, you may have a tough time deciding between some common strategies for putting together your resume. Will potential employers be most impressed by a resume that:
  • ·        Is lengthy and comprehensive so that it can communicate your depth of experience?
  • ·        Uses lots of graphics to set you apart from competitors?
  • ·        Emphasizes technical information?

If you choose any of these approaches, you will be wrong, according to Kevin M. Rosenberg, managing director and partner of BridgeGate, an executive search firm based in California. You may recognize Rosenberg, who specializes in IT management searches, as a contributor to TechRepublic.

Rosenberg says you should keep five important tips in mind when you are preparing your resume.

1. Don't lie about your job history and qualifications
A recent TechRepublic poll found that 70 percent of responding IT managers have discovered that job applicants had lied or exaggerated on their resumes. In some cases, human resources departments perform fact-checking on resumes, especially for key management positions within a company. Embellishment could cost you a job.

For example, don’t change a full-time job to a consulting role just because it lasted only three months. Avoid overly detailed descriptions that inflate your job descriptions.

2. Keep your resume short and simple
Limit details of your accomplishments in recent years. Don’t include positions that you held 20 years ago.

“For those who have career histories in excess of 15 years, we simply recommend devoting the majority of the resume space to the last five to seven years and brief accounts of the time prior. But do not omit anything,” Rosenberg said.

Following this advice means that an experienced IT professional probably won’t have a one-page resume, and that’s okay, Rosenberg said. He prefers a resume of two to three pages.

“The one-page resume is out, but don’t write the Bible either,” he said. If you need to write more, write it as an addendum and offer it upon request only.

First and foremost, you need to keep your resume simple. Too much formatting, such as bold and italics, is not appropriate. “I don’t mean to be crass, but nothing frustrates a hiring manager more than overformatting, overhighlighting, bolding, and accentuating resumes,” Rosenberg said. “It is an insult to the intelligence of the audience you are writing for if you have to highlight, bold, or italicize something [for added emphasis].”

3. Don't use detailed objective statements or summary statements
Here’s a way to decrease the length of your resume: Don’t write a career objective at the top of the page. Usually these offer redundant information that already appears in the cover letter. Another danger is that these statements can be so detailed that they limit the job seeker if he or she doesn’t exactly match the criteria for the open position. It is more important to go right into the substantive details of your most recent past.

4. Don’t send your resume as an attachment and do consider snail mail
Rosenberg recommends that when sending a resume by e-mail, send its full text as the body of a plain text or, if appropriate, HTML mail message. Many employers don’t want to receive resumes as attachments.

This is another reason why you don’t want to waste your time with fancy formatting. Lines, boxes, bullets, and tables are often lost in the process and make the files difficult to read or import into a resume database.

Also, don’t forget about the tried and true way of sending a resume. Rosenberg recommends using both e-mail and postal mail.

5. Demonstrate your business impact, along with the technical skills
Do not let technical elements overshadow your contributions to the business, such as the return on investments to IT initiatives.

“You really need to focus on content and what you are communicating,” Rosenberg said. “While brevity is important, you need to have the most possible impact in every statement that you make in your resume.”

High-level managers also have a predisposition to hire candidates with business acumen as well as technical savvy, he added. Many companies now are putting an overwhelming emphasis on IT as an enabler to business.

“Today’s CEO and president are looking at IT as part of a strategic vision,” Rosenberg said. “It’s imperative that the IT professional not write an overtly technical resume when they reach the ranks of manager. They need to address the technology, but they also need to be able to express that they understand the business decisions concerning IT.”

Mentioning attributes such as leadership ability and project management style is a good idea, and be sure to emphasize return on IT investment.

“A good resume recognizes and illustrates the contributions of the IT professional to the business,” Rosenberg said. “The most important thing is that the IT manager speak to both the technical and the business components. If an IT manager speaks too technically in the resume, their managerial and business acumen may be lost in the acronyms.”

Lastly, remember to keep your audience in mind when you are writing your resume, Rosenberg said. For example, your resume may well be reviewed by a human resource professional who knows very little about technology.

Writing examples
Even the best resumes could benefit from an overhaul. Rosenberg suggested these changes to resumes sent in by TechRepublic members.

Remember to use strong verbs

Rosenberg suggested rewriting this section so that it’s not in first person. In other words, eliminate the word “I.” Instead, begin with a strong verb and write: “Developed a firm basis of knowledge and skills controlling complex businesses, including solving an ever-changing flow of financial, personnel, and public relations issues.”

A good example of when details are appropriate

Rosenberg likes this section of the resume. It’s descriptive and it follows the rule of emphasizing the business implications of being an IT manager.

Don’t leave out dates

In this section, Rosenberg said that the job seeker should have included dates. It never hurts to have a friend look at your resume to catch anything from obvious omissions to grammatical errors.

Hiring managers speak out!
What would you recommend to an IT pro who wants to join the executive ranks? Are those resume services that charge a fee worth the money? Post a comment or send us a letter.


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