When was the last time you took a good, hard look at your resume? It’s probably been a while. And, anyway, why should you? You’ve got a job that pays…well, it pays. And your job description hasn’t really changed all that much. Sure, there are the extra responsibilities you took on when half your staff got canned last December, but those are little tasks. And no one’s getting a raise this year, anyway, right?

Nodding your head complacently? Then this is precisely the time to reevaluate your resume. You need to know just how much you’ve accomplished so that you can be the one person in the company who does get the raise you deserved two quarters ago. You need to be poised to pounce on the opportunity that’s just around the corner. And a resume revamp doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, in seven simple steps, your resume can reflect the better, brighter, more accomplished IT manager you’ve become.

  1. Look at the big picture. This pertains to printed resumes rather than text-based ones sent via the Web. What does your resume actually look like? Ignore the words for a moment. Is the layout clear and concise? Is the font easily readable? Remember that a sans serif font is harder to read that a serif font—though a sans serif font can look more modern. Choose your font size wisely; don’t go smaller than 11 pt type if you want anyone to read about all your accomplishments. Use bullet points, bold type, and spacing to help break up the information on the page.
  2. Use strong action verbs to describe your job duties and accomplishments. You don’t want to present a laundry list of your day-to-day duties. Focus instead on the parts of your job that earn you recognition and stress your leadership skills. For example, instead of writing that you are “very involved in running a team of programmers and keeping projects on schedule,” try saying that you “manage a team that consistently meets deadlines.”
  3. Be careful with your content. Is the important information readily accessible? If you’re job-hunting, remember that the people who initially screen resumes often have only extremely basic technical knowledge; they might not know an MCSD from a CCNA. Don’t hide your strong points in language that no one outside your field can understand. And, even if you’re happy where you are, you want your resume to showcase your “hireability” so that your employer will compensate you accordingly.
  4. Ease up on the technical details. Remember, you’re in management now, and even though your tech skills got you where you are, it’s a different skill set that will propel you forward. Yes, you can—and should—still list your technical skills, but make sure the focus is on how those skills help you manage people and technology more effectively.
  5. Stress benefits, not features. Think back to your days as a hardware engineer. Did you stress that the chip you designed replaced up to 10 discrete components, or did you stress the greater product functionality and smaller device sizes that your customers could enjoy when they used your chip in their devices? Now, apply that logic to your resume. Don’t just say that you devised a new off-site backup strategy for the company. Point out that your off-site backup strategy reduced hardware and manpower expenses by over 50 percent, reduced downtime substantially, and increased client satisfaction 100 percent. See the difference?
  6. Put the bottom line on top. Translate each of your accomplishments into hours saved, money earned, and other tangible results for the company. If you can’t figure out how what you do every day fits into the big picture, then you’re doing something wrong. If you know what the moneymaking tasks are and you’re not finding time for them, you also need to reprioritize. Your resume should reflect the net worth you add to your organization.
  7. Ask your mom to read your resume. No offense to Mom, but unless she’s a regular reader here at TechRepublic, she’s probably not too technically savvy. So if she can read your resume and get a sense of what you do and why someone might hire you, your resume is definitely on the right track. If Mom can also proofread, then you’re absolutely ready for prime time.

Whether you’re looking for a new job or just looking to be more appreciated in your current position, these seven steps will sharpen and refine your resume. If you follow them all, you’ll enjoy an added benefit: You’ll never again endure another holiday dinner where you’re introduced as, “My daughter who does something with computers.”

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