Your Top IT Resume Questions Answered

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IT pros are in demand, but to land the best possible position, you still have to write the best possible IT resume for the job. Check out our answers to the most common questions about writing great IT resumes:

Does an IT resume differ from other kinds of resumes?

All the principles of good resume writing apply equally to IT resumes. Keep the design simple and easy to read. Be as short and concise as possible. Use active verbs ("managed" as opposed to "responsible for"). And replace the old-fashioned "objective" at the top of your resume with a summary — a few well-crafted sentences that highlight your most impressive skills, qualifications and accomplishments.  

To review both resume basics plus the latest trends, check out our tips for writing flawless resumes and cover letters.

How technical should I get?

The short answer is, just the right amount. Certainly you should list all relevant programming languages, operation systems and protocols. Consider a special "Technical Competencies" section where you can gather them all in one place, so hiring managers can get a quick summary.

But remember, your audience may include a variety of businesspeople, not just IT pros. So avoid acronyms and jargon, unless you're sure they are universally understood. And wherever possible, describe your skills and achievements in clear, non-technical ways. Any manager should be able to read your resume and have a good sense of the value you can contribute to the company.   

Get ready for salary negotiations. Calculate IT salaries in your area.

Should I include non-IT related experience?

Absolutely. Hiring managers would rather see non-IT experience than gaps in your work history. And you can always reframe these experiences for an IT audience by concentrating on "transferable" skills. If you’re a recent college grad and you waited tables during school, you may not have spent much time in front of a computer screen. But you did demonstrate your ability to prioritize and manage multiple tasks under strict time restraints? Did you manage others and develop your interpersonal skills, which are just as valuable as technical skills, according CIOs we surveyed.

Should I tailor my resume for every job I apply for?

Yes. You’ll need multiple versions of your IT resume, plus a little tailoring for each job. For example, you definitely want two different versions if you are applying to both managerial and individual contributor roles. And you should certainly tailor your resume to the kinds of technology relevant to the job at hand. Maybe you have lots of networking experience, but if you are applying for a job as a database manager, you want to focus on proven database skills.

Employers are inundated with resumes. How can I make sure mine gets read?

In the age of application tracking software (ATS), keywords are king. Read the job listing very closely, and make sure you incorporate keywords and phrases into your resume.

Be sure you incorporate keywords into the summary (instead of "objective") and "Technical Competencies" sections. You can also increase your chances of surviving the ATS by working keywords and phrases into other parts of your resume, as well. 

Once I make it past the ATS, how can I make my resume stand out?

Once you have human eyes on your IT resume, try to wow them with specific accomplishments — the more quantifiable the better. It sounds impressive to say you led the redesign of an application. But your resume will pop if you add that sales of the redesigned app increased by 15 percent. Don't just say, "Managed help desk." Say you decreased resolution times by 20 percent.

Do I need a cover letter?

You’ll distinguish yourself from the crowd if you have one. It’s true that in a world of digital job applications, there’s often little or no room to include a cover letter. And if an employer reached out to you on LinkedIn, interviewed you on the spot at a hackathon, or snapped you up following an internship, there may not have been a need to even write one. In other cases, though, include a cover letter. It shows you can communicate effectively, and provides insight into how you can add value to an organization. And it’s an opportunity to explain why a hiring manager should feel confident about investing in you.

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