What Should A Tech Resume Look Like?


While the tech industry seeks to fill a drained talent pool, one expert said many qualified candidates are tripping over poorly crafted resumes and being passed over in the process.

J.M. Auron, a professional IT resume writer, career coach and owner of Quantum Tech Resumes, said when many of his clients first come to him, they don't present themselves well on their resumes, even if they are completely qualified for a position.

The average tech professional usually turns his or her resume into a "laundry list of technical skills," Auron said, and doesn't emphasize the business value that would be brought to the table.

Auron gave the example of one client who presented a typical resume showing off his technical qualifications. However, he completely failed to mention that he globally managed 80 people, a $20 million budget and found $10 million in cost savings. That happens all the time, Auron said. The technical skills are important, Auron said, but communicating the business value behind them is equally so.

"It's not a question of not including technical skills, it's demonstrating how those technical skills add real business value," Auron said.

Auron said a software architect's resume, for example, should include 80 percent technical content and 20 percent business. As applicants climb the ladder and apply for CIO or CTO positions, the balance shifts to 60 percent technical and 40 percent business content. It's all the same information, just with a different emphasis, he said.

The danger of not emphasizing business capabilities is that it might make a candidate look much less qualified, Auron said. Many applicants think they are "just doing their job," when they really have quite significant responsibilities and achievements, he added.

"Generally the biggest issue I see with most resumes across my desk, and I see a lot of them, is that [the applicants] look two or three levels below where they are," Auron said.

It's important to slow down, take some time to analyze accomplishments and turn them into elegant, clean language, Auron said.

"The biggest issue with writing resumes is that people think it's easy and that they should be able to do it in 45 minutes," Auron said. "It's a very difficult form of writing. It's a bit like writing poetry because you have to write very powerfully with very few words."

When it comes to interviews, Auron said that usually about 80 percent of interview questions are pulled directly from the applicant's resume -- so a resume should only include accomplishments the applicant is willing to talk about.

Auron gave the example of a client with a distinguished career in military information systems. The client had led a major project within his company, but the government didn't end up deploying the solution. Even though it was an important project, Auron told the client not to include it on the resume because, if he did, he would have to explain why the solution wasn't chosen.

Auron also recommended taking the night before the interview to practice 60- to 90-second short stories around each resume point. It's all about practice, he said.

PUBLISHED NOV. 4, 2013