- Given the increasingly competitive state of the IT job market, it can be tempting to inflate your resume. After all, you wouldn't be alone in telling fibs or outright whoppers.
One in seven job applicants make false claims about their education, according to the Brookfield, Wisconsin, recruitment firm Jude M Werra and Associates, publisher of the semiannual Liars Index.
A better way to stand out is to create an outstanding resume that effectively communicates your value and talents to prospective employers. But like everything else, resume writing is a skilled activity.
Take the case of a network engineer in Silicon Valley who had been out of work for five months. Despite sending his resume to a multitude of recruiters and personnel departments, he had only gotten a few interviews. He sought professional help from resume specialist High Tech Resumes in Mountain View, California.
The engineer picked out a few positions of interest, and the firm tailored his resume to each job, focusing on how his skills and experience matched those positions. "Forty-five days later, he was back at work," says Michael Goldstein, director of High Tech Resumes.
For help writing resumes that sell, here are a few IT-specific tips gleaned from the experts.
Decide how much to emphasise
If you're applying for a managerial position, give your full job history. Although the technology you've worked with has changed over the years, employers are looking for a sequence of career development and increasing responsibility.
However, if you're seeking a more hands-on technical position, just focus on the last five to 10 years.
List both lower and higher levels of training
Let's say, for example that you're a Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE). To earn a CCIE, you also need to be a Cisco Certified Network Professional (CCNP). List both certifications. Why? Many companies scan resumes into a database where they can be keyword searched. When someone searches for a CCNP to hire, the search engine won't know that a CCIE is even better. And more often than not, a human resources representative won't know this either when scanning through a drawer full of resumes.
The personal touch is vital in managerial positions. The higher the level of the position you're seeking, the more important it is to point out how you have a combination of people and technical skills, says Tom Morris of the Washington, DC, outplacement firm Morris Associates.
Showcase technical proficiency and the ability to work with the CFO to improve the bottom line, or the sales director to improve customer retention. It can also help to list industry and community activities because this demonstrates leadership and professional networking abilities.
Don't confuse the recruiter
The purpose of a resume isn't to obtain a job, but to get an interview. "Some people who have been around a long time will speak in tech jargon off the top to show what they know," says Mike Mullery, a Fortune Personnel Consultants recruiter in San Ramon, California.
While the IT executive who conducts the interview will understand what you're talking about, HR makes the first pass at scrutinising resumes and decides which applicants to call for an interview. Instead of "designed and installed an OC-192 SONET MAN," say "oversaw rollout of a high-speed network joining 30,000 employees in 100 buildings." This will improve your chances of making it into an interview with someone who knows what you are talking about.
Don't shortchange project experience
If you've been working as a consultant and a company keeps calling you back for more, don't group all your work together as "Consultant for Acme Company - 18 months." List the projects so it's clear that the company loved your work and kept rehiring you, rather than letting it look like one long project.
Tie together your training and your experience
Say you note that you were a network administrator in the job experience section of your resume, and the education and training section cites your Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) training. But unless you say so, the reader can't tell if you were administering a Windows, NetWare or Unix network.
Instead, put something like this in the job experience section: "I used my MCSE training to migrate the network from Windows NT to Windows 2000, including a full-scale Active Directory rollout." By tying together training and experience, you create a more dynamic and interesting document.
If your resume still isn't working, hire a professional
You make your living overseeing networks. Similarly, there are people who make their living crafting resumes. Yes, High Tech Resumes' Goldstein charges $US175 to prepare your resume, but compare that to spending a few months out of work. If your resume isn't landing you interviews, seek professional assistance.
Robb is a freelance writer in Los Angeles specialising in technology issues.