Make Your IT Resume Pop!

Black Hole in the universe

Black Hole in the universe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You’ve heard the stories:

  • Recruiters spend only 6 seconds scanning your resume
  • Your resume will be sucked up by the black hole known as an ATS (applicant tracking system), never to be seen again

How do you elude the 6-second scan or the gaping black hole?

Expertise Summary

There’s good news. The objective statement is a thing of the past. Use that valuable real estate on your resume to provide a high-level summary of your expertise. You will want to highlight those areas that are pertinent to the position you are applying for. For example, you might say something like, “I’m a Java programmer with 15 years experience in the Health Information Technology field.”

Build the summary out with a few more sentences. You want to whet the appetite of the hiring manager or the recruiter for more, enticing them to read further.

Core Competencies and Technical Skills

Bring your IT skills and certifications to the top of the resume.   Label and group the certifications together, then software programming skills, followed by operating systems, etc. The goal is to have all those valuable hard skills listed where they can be easily scanned by both humans and computers.


List the degree(s) you’ve earned, the specialization, and the school’s name, city and state. You do not need to include your GPA.

You should also include other pertinent training.

Unless the highest level of institutional education you completed was high school, there is no need to include your high school diploma.

Professional Experience

List your professional experience in reverse chronological order. Include:

  • Company name, city and state
  • Your position or title (Java Programmer, or Director of IT)
  • Date range of your employment (starting month/date – ending month/date)

Don’t merely list your job duties. Provide a brief description of your position, and focus on the projects you worked on, the objectives or deliverables.  Include the particular technical skills and tools you used on those projects.

Professional Experience for Consultants or Contractors

For IT professionals who are contractors or consultants, providing a work history can be challenging. If you choose to have a more traditional, chronological resume, be sure to indicate the positions where you worked as a contractor.

If you have been a contractor for a large part of your professional career, you may prefer to focus on the projects you’ve done. Push the projects where you used the skills asked for in the job advertisement to the top. If an employer is looking for a C++ programmer, group all those projects together first.   The functional resume can really draw attention to the level of experience you have in niche areas.

Contact Information

Include your name, address, email address, and phone numbers at the top of the resume. If you have a website or blog that highlights your professional career, include its URL. A web developer would want to include a link to an online portfolio.


  • Don’t use special fonts or stationery. Use a legible font, such as 11 point Arial or Verdana, and a good 12 lb. paper.
  • Use the present tense when describing your current position, and past tense for the rest.
  • Bullet points or paragraphs? Bullet points will pull attention to your skills, and make it easier for the reader to scan. Short paragraphs can be used to briefly describe a company or project.
  • Create a footer that includes your name, and page numbers. Use the format “Page 1 of 3”, in case your pages become separated. (You may see this format listed as “Page # of ##”.)
  • Proofread! Grammar and spelling checkers only go so far. “Their” or “there” might make it through both the grammar and the spell checkers, but there is a vast difference in meaning. Ask someone to proof your resume. Your brain may tell you what you want to see. Someone else’s brain will be more objective.

The Ever Changing Resume

Without a doubt, developing a resume is challenging. A resume is never a finished document. It must be revised and tailored every time you apply for a new opportunity.

It’s worth the effort, though, when your resume lands on the hiring manager’s desk.

Corporate Media Specialist, DPP 

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