Building a Compelling Technical ResumeBy J.M. Auron
Writing a compelling, effective technical resume presents unique challenges. Encompassing a complex career in a style that is clear, readable, and gets - and keeps - the hiring authority's attention requires a strong sense of what you've accomplished.
Always keep your goal in mind. Remember, every resume needs a strategy - so be clear on what you're trying to express. I'd like to offer three ideas that can make the process easier, and help create a resume that gets the results you're looking for - calls, emails, and the all-important first interview. Here are the basics on what to include, what to omit, and how to build the final product.
1) What to include:
Dig down to discover the business value. Did your technical advances increase efficiency or reduce costs? Streamline development time? Decrease time to market for new applications through introduction of methodologies (like Agile)? If you can put a dollar or percentage value to any achievements, you're on your way to making your resume stand out.
2) What to omit.
Don't overwhelm the reader with technical detail! For a Software Developer or Architect, you will want to include information on the tools and technologies you've used to address challenges. But don't be repetitive. It can be a good strategy to include technologies for each job, if that demonstrates significant breadth - but if your toolbox remains consistent, it's better to list technical skills separately. This will enable keyword searches to pick out crucial details without bogging down the reader. Also, as you advance in your career, you'll want to reduce technical detail, and focus more on 'big picture' business challenges.
3) How to create the whole picture.
Technical resumes are often more detailed than resumes for other professions. What you've done is complex, and it's crucial to present some detail to demonstrate your unique value proposition. But describe your career as concisely as possible. Make a clear distinction between duties / responsibilities and accomplishments.
Beware of 'death-by-bullets'. Only clear accomplishments need a bullet - if everything is bulleted, nothing stands out. Don't worry about the "2-Page" rule; if you need 3 pages to tell your story, that's always an option. But do realize that hiring authorities are busy people. Be respectful of their time and be only as detailed as necessary to create a clear context for your achievements.
I hope these simple tips will help you create a resume that gets the call back, and lands you that crucial first interview!