IT Resume Makeover: Position Your Accomplishments for Maximum Impact
Cameron Tate's is a seasoned IT leader. His resume was thorough, well-organized and detailed, but he wasn't getting the responses his extensive experience and impeccable credentials warranted.
Enter Caitlin Sampson, a career consultant and professional resume writer at Regal Resumes. When she saw Tate's resume, she identified the problem immediately.
"Cameron had created a thorough overview of his IT C-suite experience, yes, but in the initial read-through, it became clear that the valuable information was buried in bullet points," says Sampson.
To make the resume more impactful at-first-glance, he had to better position that information so it could be read and understood within a 10-to-15 second first glance. "Cameron's impressive experience and expertise -- if focused, effectively communicated and displayed -- could easily capture the reader's attention and create a favorable impression," Sampson says.
Stay on Target
To better focus Tate's resume, Sampson first removed the objective statement and made sure the target of Tate's job search was apparent by making sure he had a clear and consistent direction within his professional summary.
"A clearly stated overview of qualifications will serve more effectively than listing an objective. When the resume has a clear focus like this, there is no need for the objective statement. In the top one-third of the page, Cameron's vast experience and extensive track record of success were immediately conveyed," says Sampson.
In addition, Sampson says, she asked Tate to share with her a few job descriptions that were of interest to him. She and Tate reviewed these, and used similar keywords and phrases to customize his resume for each job, aligning his career experiences with the job descriptions.
Using keywords and phrases from specific job descriptions often helps candidates get through initial screenings done by applicant tracking systems (ATS). Another trick to make sure a resume gets past an ATS is to remove all tables, columns or lists, which Sampson did with Tate's resume, she says.
Separate Responsibilities From Achievements
It's also important to separate job responsibilities from achievements, according to Sampson. While job responsibilities provide context for an applicant's accomplishments, the details of what they've done above and beyond those day-to-day tasks are what helps them stand out from all the other IT professionals out there.
"Make sure that, within each job role, achievement bullets are front-loaded with quantifiable results. This will help the reader to quickly recognize the value added by the candidate, instead of simply being a list of processes and tasks they've performed; a clear differentiation established between responsibilities and contributions to the organization," says Sampson.
A Page Too Long?
While Tate's new resume may seem lengthy, it's entirely appropriate for a candidate of his skill level and experience, Sampson notes, and is, in fact, shorter than his original resume.
"We shortened the resume from four pages to three. It is often thought that the resume should be kept to two pages or less. However, as a general rule we say that as long as the information on the subsequent pages continues to add value, then a three-page resume would be suitable for an executive with Cameron's experience," says Sampson.
The End Results
Tate says he's thrilled to have a resume that better reflects and articulates the value he has to offer an organization. The changes Sampson suggested much more effectively demonstrate the dynamic skillset he has and the breadth and depth of his experience and knowledge. Thus far, the feedback he's received has been positive.
The final version is a well-structured executive resume, which has been honed and targeted toward specific C-level IT roles. "We went from a process-driven resume to emphasizing Cameron's value-added contributions, which allowed Cameron to showcase his suitability for the positions he applied for," says Sampson.
"I've received a number of compliments related to the strength of my experience. My resume is easier to scan now; it's easier to pick out key points and not get lost in the text. Now any conversations I have with recruiters, hiring managers or potential employers can be more focused on the substance and depth of my experience instead of sifting through basic background questions about my skills and experience," says Tate.
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