The Resume: What IT Professionals Must have at the Top of Their Resume

 Let’s review a couple of the rules for resumes.

The purpose of a resume is to get an interview. That is its only role in life. Therefore, whatever is on the resume that helps you get an interview is good (I’m assuming truthfulness here!). Whatever is on the resume, or missing from the resume, that doesn’t help you get an interview, or interferes with your getting an interview is bad.

As the hiring manager, I care less about an endless list of your duties and responsibilities than I do about ascertaining your competence from the resume. So, it is more important to show me that you’re good, i.e., success, than to tell me everything you’ve done. Ability is more important than experience.

As is the case with most rules,there is an exception. There is one profession in which the need to show experience is paramount.

If you work in IT, your resume needs to show me all the hardware and/or software that you have experience with, because if I don’t see the particular hardware/software that I’m looking for, you’re toast.

I’ve had lots of IT clients say, “I can learn that software in a matter of hours or days,” and I expect that most of them are right. But put yourself in the position of the hiring manager for a moment.

You’re scanning (not studying) a ton of resumes to determine who to bring in for an interview. Before you are two resumes that appear to be roughly equal. One resume shows experience using the particular hardware or software you’re looking for. The other resume doesn’t, but shows a successful IT career. So, you can bring in the person with experience or you can bring in someone with no experience, but a good track record. Here is what you’rethinking as you review these resumes:

“So, I can bring in this guy with experience in what I’m looking for, and determine whether or not he’s any good.Or I can bring in this other guy who doesn’t have the experience. That means I’ll have to train him. Training costs money. I don’t have an unlimited budget.This guy might be able to learn, but I’m on down time until he learns. I think I’ll pass on him, and bring in the guy with experience.”

Now, I‘m not justifying this behavior. This hiring manager is just taking the path of least resistance, and what he perceives to be limiting his risk, which is totally consistent with human nature. That isn’t to say it’s the best path, just the easiest. Much of what goes on in hiring today is intended to make hiring easier, not more effective.

So, what does this mean to you, the IT pro looking for a job?

It means that you list every software package you have worked with, and every piece of hardware you have experience with at the top of your resume.

Typically, you will have a summary of no more than four lines that present you as the person you want to be seen to be, followed by a table listing all your software/hardware experience. In this case “experience” means that if you have ever touched it, you have experience.

You must understand that, in a way,you’re saying, “Don’t miss this, dummy!” And the hiring manager won’t miss it.That table will be the first place his eye falls, and if he sees what he wants,you go into the small stack. If not, he will read no further. The alternative,though, is not so good. If you don’t show it up front you’re gambling that the hiring manager will take the time to read the whole resume looking for the magic combination. The odds of this happening are not great. The first thing the manager is likely to do is drop the resume and look for one that does show it all up front.

So, if you want the resume to get you an interview, show them what you’ve got!

To learn even more about successful resume writing, check out my post: Is Your Resume Selling SUCCESS?

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