Top Ten Technical Resume Writing Tips
- List your technical knowledge first, in an
organized way. Your technical strengths must stand out clearly
at the beginning of your resume. Ultimately, your resume is
going to be read by a thoughtful human being, but before it gets
to that point it often has to be categorized by an
administrative clerk, and make its way past various sorts of key
word searches. Therefore, you should list as many directly
relevant buzz words as you can which reflect your knowledge and
experience. List all operating systems and UNIX flavors you
know. List all programming languages and platforms with which
you're experienced. List all software you are skilled with. Make
it obvious at a glance where your strengths lie - whether the
glance is from a hiring manager, a clerk, or a machine.
- List your qualifications in order of
relevance, from most to least. Only list your degree and
educational qualifications first if they are truly relevant to
the job for which you are applying. If you've already done what
you want to do in a new job, by all means, list it first, even
if it wasn't your most recent job. Abandon any strict adherence
to a chronological ordering of your experience.
- Quantify your experience wherever possible.
Cite numerical figures, such as monetary budgets/funds saved,
time periods/efficiency improved, lines of code
written/debugged, numbers of machines administered/fixed, etc.
which demonstrate progress or accomplishments due directly to
- Begin sentences with action verbs. Portray
yourself as someone who is active, uses their brain, and gets
things done. Stick with the past tense, even for descriptions of
currently held positions, to avoid confusion.
- Don't sell yourself short. This is by far the
biggest mistake of all resumes, technical and otherwise. Your
experiences are worthy for review by hiring managers. Treat your
resume as an advertisement for you. Be sure to thoroughly "sell"
yourself by highlighting all of your strengths. If you've got a
valuable asset which doesn't seem to fit into any existing
components of your resume, list it anyway as its own resume
- Be concise. As a rule of thumb, resumes
reflecting five years or less experience should fit on one page.
More extensive experience can justify usage of a second page.
Consider three pages (about 15 years or more experience) an
absolute limit. Avoid lengthy descriptions of whole projects of
which you were only a part. Consolidate action verbs where one
task or responsibility encompasses other tasks and duties.
Minimize usage of articles (the, an, a) and never use "I" or
other pronouns to identify yourself.
- Omit needless items. Leave all these things
off your resume: social security number, marital status, health,
citizenship, age, scholarships, irrelevant awards, irrelevant
associations and memberships, irrelevant publications,
irrelevant recreational activities, a second mailing address
("permanent address" is confusing and never used), references,
reference of references ("available upon request"), travel
history, previous pay rates, previous supervisor names, and
components of your name which you really never use (i.e. middle
- Have a trusted friend review your resume. Be
sure to pick someone who is attentive to details, can
effectively critique your writing, and will give an honest and
objective opinion. Seriously consider their advice. Get a third
and fourth opinion if you can.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread. Be sure to
catch all spelling errors, grammatical weaknesses, unusual
punctuation, and inconsistent capitalizations. Proofread it
numerous times over at least two days to allow a fresh eye to
catch any hidden mistakes.
- Laser print it on plain, white paper.
Handwriting, typing, dot matrix printing, and even ink jet
printing look pretty cheesy. Stick with laser prints. Don't
waste your money on special bond paper, matching envelopes, or
any color deviances away from plain white. Your resume will be
photocopied, faxed, and scanned numerous times, defeating any
special paper efforts, assuming your original resume doesn't
first end up in the circular file.