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Polish your resume to impress future employers

February 05, 2014

Creating a powerful resume isn't always easy, but it's crucial for landing information technology jobs. Whether you're an experienced professional with a lot of impressive accomplishments or a neophyte fresh out of college, you need to capture your future employer's attention. Executives and recruiters tend to glance at a resume for a matter of seconds before making an initial decision, TheLadders found in a study. Therefore, it's essential to communicate your top selling points in an effective manner.

Lead strong
Donald Burns, executive career coach, strategist, publicist and founder of Executive Promotions, LLC, told CIO magazine that resumes should start strong with easy-to-read key points. Even for experienced workers' long resumes, the first page should be marked by concise, targeted language. He recommended an introduction including a headline, subheadings and summary paragraphs that clearly communicate your main qualifications and traits.

"The first page of this resume can stand alone as a one-page 'networking bio,' which is a great feature," Burns said. "Sometimes, a networking contact will ask, 'Send me something about yourself,' and in those cases, the full resume is too heavy, but this one-page bio is perfect."

By carefully crafting the first page of your resume, you control the first impression you leave with IT recruiters, he noted. Similarly, Business Insider recommended leading with an executive summary that serves as an elevator pitch for your aspirations, core interests and qualifications. You should make sure these statements are specific and targeted to the IT job you're seeking.

Tell your story
Burns emphasized that cluttered resumes can cloak even the brightest accomplishments. Instead of compiling lists of positions and job duties, he said, your resume should tell your career story. To do so, focus on the central accomplishments that will be meaningful to the employer, and then connect the dots to form a comprehensive view of your achievements and potential. Experienced workers should consider limiting what they include so that long timelines don't distract from their top strengths.

On the other end of the spectrum, you can make up for limited professional experience by including information about skills like teamwork, Resource Nation recommended. Sometimes it's helpful to think about an interview when you create your resume, advised Burns. Consider the skills and qualities an interviewer would seek and incorporate the relevant experience.

Tailor to your audience
Part of telling your career story is helping your potential employer to see how you fit into their organization. You should keep the job description and company in mind when writing about your experience and plans. This can also help you to be selective when choosing which job skills or activities to include on your resume, Resource Nation suggested. You don't want to regurgitate the job advertisement, but your overall presentation should help supervisors picture you on their team.

Readability is key
Even if you have a great record, poor presentation can land your application in the recycle bin. Keep your reader in mind when you structure and format your resume. You need to create a comprehensive picture, Burns said, so make sure the components of your resume flow sensibly and form a cohesive whole.

The formatting for the document should allow your strengths to stand out—bullets, headlines and styles should not command too much attention. You don't want to distract your application reviewer from the content, cautioned Business Insider. Instead, use consistent formatting that fades into the background while presenting your information in a crisp, readable manner.

Experts also warn against long, text-filled paragraphs. According to Business Insider, time-constrained reviewers may just skip over paragraphs that are long and difficult to read. Instead, Burns advised, include "bite-sized" text elements that stay on point and deliver a powerful message.

Let your personality shine
While the numbers and tangible results are crucial to a strong resume for IT careers, it's not all about the hard facts. Your resume is your first introduction to a potential employer. Give them a sense of who you are by presenting information in your own voice, Burns suggested. Employers recognize the value of certain characteristics and personality types, so consider the message you're sending through which information you choose to include and the style you utilize. Give your employer a sense of who you are—and demonstrate that you're a solid fit for both the role and the company.

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