Implementing these 11 guidelines and resume sections can help you stand out and get more interviews.
Getting your resume in front of the hiring manager can be tricky business; your resume typically has about a 5% chance of getting read. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and other channels that filter out resumes can create entry barriers. So, if you want to be noticed and get hired, it requires a combination of factors to get you there. Leverage the following components to help you ensure your resume is optimized for its purpose: getting the attention of hiring managers and getting an interview!
- Technologies, Current Versions, and Methodologies
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) scan, recruiters search keywords based on the job description. If you don’t include words in your resume tied to the job description, don’t expect your resume to get noticed. Make your application or resume more visible by understanding the primary “buzz words” associated with the jobs you’re applying for first. Next, include the pertinent buzz words and technologies in your resume based on the job description you’re looking at before you click apply.
- Technical Training Courses
Are you staying current by investing in your development? Managers evaluate candidates on this type of activity and will be interested in learning what you’ve been doing to keep current. It’s also a great way to stand out by demonstrating that you have a thirst for knowledge within your resume.
- Coursework Towards Certifications
You may be wondering, “If I’ve taken online courses and a boot camp towards a Security+ certification, but I don’t have the certification yet, should I include it in my resume?” Yes, managers and recruiters will value your proactive approach, especially when certification is listed as a requirement or preferred qualification. Listing coursework optimizes your resume and communicates you’re on the path to obtaining certification.
- Conferences and Tech Events
You can also stand out by including a conferences and tech events section in your resume. Keep the section concise by listing bullets below the title, similar to the following but specific to the events you’ve attended.
- Tampa Bay Tech Conference – Attendee since 2018
- Tampa SQL Saturday Conference – Attendee since 2020, volunteered with logistics and registration at the 2021 event
- PASS (Professional Association of SQL Server) Conference – Attendee since 2019
- Suncoast Hackathon – Participated in two weekend-long hackathons, worked with a team of local developers on community civic hacking projects with React and Postgres SQL
- Steering Committees
How else have you contributed outside your day-to-day job? How do you go above and beyond? This is an excellent self-reflection while updating your resume. Perhaps you were a co-chair for your group’s culture committee, part of the digital innovation committee, or helped plan a company hackathon. Including extra-curricular demonstrates initiative, team player, trustworthiness, and other positive traits.
- Awards and Achievements
What accolades have you received? Think back on all formal and informal awards and highlight any performance reviews, a personal experience like volunteerism, etc. You can then feature these via a dedicated awards section in your resume or represent them within a specific job description.
- Personal Projects
The number of individuals who got an offer in large part due to experience and knowledge they gained on their own time is outstanding. There’s always something you can do on your own to further develop your expertise with a target skill or technology. So, add a section to your resume for pet projects personal technology project experience, such as the following:
- Programming your home thermostat using a Raspberry Pi
- Building your portfolio website in a new programming language
- Installing Linux servers in your home environment
- Creating your own social media content calendar and posts
- Helping your kids’ school with creating flyers for events
Consider how LinkedIn provides us with a platform for blog and article posts. Having a couple of publications posted via LinkedIn will help your candidacy, especially when writing or documentation skills are highly valued. What could you write about? More than you realize! Consider your projects or a conference(s) you’ve attended. “My AHA moments from building my first Azure app or Change management takeaways from Tampa’s PMI Professional Development Day.” If your goal is to write more, connect with a buddy in the same profession with similar goals, and start brainstorming topics, collaborating on outlines, and being each other’s peer editor.
- Volunteer Experience
If you haven’t before, start including volunteer experience in your resume. Applicants make the mistake of leaving that and self-skills development off their resumes. Including a section on these items can set you apart from the norm. It can make a great impression on a manager who has to sift through 20 plus similar resumes a day. Never miss out on communicating what you’re doing to grow your skills and stay current with technology. Do you spend time outside of your workday learning at a code camp or volunteering somewhere? Ideas can include a mix of learning and volunteering, such as a Project Management for Change nonprofit organization, STEM nonprofit where you graduated from and helped coordinate philanthropy. You can also include volunteering for the Salvation Army and annual Adopt-a-Family programs.
- Groups and Associations
Are you a contributor or member of a technical, professional association, or Meetup group? If not, find a local or regional group to join. Being involved in an association can be a career and job searching benefit. Communicate your involvement and leverage that network to help find career opportunities. Include a section in your resume for technical community involvement, professional memberships, or tech groups and associations. Outline this section with your group association, tenure, and your role. If you haven’t volunteered and haven’t taken on a leadership role or committee, list yourself as a member.
How can you stand out in a stack of resumes where others have a similar experience? Quantify what you’ve done and pepper a couple of metrics throughout your summary and job descriptions. Following are five key areas to identify metrics on your resume. Each area below includes two examples.
- What is the purpose of the group or team you’re on?
- Customer Service Call Center - Addressing customer questions, concerns, troubleshooting
- Web Applications Migrations Team - Migrations and upgrades
- What specific role(s) did you serve? What were your key priorities and tasks? Include specific KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) or metrics.
- Customer Experience Representative
- Fielded 600+ calls a month, resolved 250+ trouble tickets and issues for our customers with a satisfaction rating of 96%
- What technologies, tools, platforms, etc., did you use? What methodologies?
- Web App Services – Microsoft Azure
- Migrated two enterprise web applications to Azure Cloud, resulting in reduced deployment speeds from an average of 5 days down to 10 hours, reducing on-prem storage to save the company 18% on data storage costs
- What were the results of your work and any accolades you received?
- Implemented 15 RPA solutions in under a year, saving 1,500+ employees across three departments an average of 10 hours each a month, totaling 180,000 hours of time savings a year
- Q3, Top 10 Employee Recognition, and Award
- Outside of your formal job description, what else did you do? How else did you contribute to your company or team?
- Took leadership of our website upgrade project that was behind schedule and 15% over budget
- Through the implementation of Scrum principles, resource re-allocation, and the introduction of Jira, delivered the project on time and 3% under budget
Now that we’ve gone over resume improvements, don’t forget about the visual design. You’ll want to frame what you’ve done in these areas neatly. Your resume deserves all the support and guidance it can get, especially with finalizing the design, layout, and categories you want nicely represented for hiring professionals. So, consider trying various resumes tools below that provide different designs and layouts. Some tools include guided questions based on your primary skillset to help you incorporate the right content and buzz words while also helping you determine potential metrics to include. Other tools can help test the optimization of your resume for an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), while some track and rank your application or resume when applying online.
Explore each tool, as there isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Each resume should be uniquely adjusted for the job position you’re applying for and considering. But most importantly, start by going through the eleven resume checklist items to ensure you’ve covered them in your resume. Happy resume improvements!
Resume tools to consider:
Check out these additional resources: