Content is King in a Technical Resume!


By Jennifer L. Hay

There are plenty of companies that market their resume templates and designs as the big differentiator in a technical job search plan. Their website proclaims that you can use their templates and within minutes you’ll be able to create a wonderful technical resume that will get you noticed. If this was the case, as an IT resume writer I would have been out of business a long time ago.

These resume templates and designs can have a place in making your resume more attractive but without strong achievement statements, you don’t have a chance. Remember that most companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) so your resume will first be downloaded into an ATS database, which will strip out all of the formatting.

A client once told me that another resume writing company promoted the design of their propriety page border as a surefire way to get a job.  According to the company, this fabulous border really drew people into the resume and got their clients noticed. As silly as this sounds, people bought into this idea because it had an element of truth to it.

Years ago, before the omnipresence of computers, you could get a higher score on a college paper by using a typewriter. The pages looked cleaner and were easier to read. It wasn’t long before everyone had a computer, and clean white pages became the norm.

Now fast forward and this same gimmick is being used today with a little twist. Companies have moved on from fancy page borders to resume template designs. While I agree that having an attractive resume is a good practice, I also know that this alone will not make a difference.

Generic Language in a Resume is Boring With or Without a Resume Template

Pig with lipstick

Pig with Lipstick

Well, the reality is that if you had boring and generic language in your original resume then your new resume will have the same boring language but with a prettier face. I call this ‘putting lipstick on a pig’. It may be adorable, but it’s still a pig wearing red lipstick.

Some resume template companies will also guide you through the process of improving your resume.  I’ve tested this out with several of them and found that the suggestions they provide are based on the job title you added. For example, if you are a software engineer, they will give you the same five recommendations that they give to every other software engineer.

Here are examples of what I’ve seen. Each statement is very generic and could describe the responsibilities of thousands of IT professionals.

  • Led large-scale software deployments including testing features and resolving code problems.
  • Designed solutions that met or exceeded performance stakeholder expectations.
  • Collaborated with development team members to analyze system solution based on stakeholder requirements.
  • Built strong team of software engineers which significantly improved overall success of the organization.

A Better Way to Get Your Resume Noticed.

  1. Do a job search and find a position that fits your individual qualifications.
  2. Select the parts of the job description that match your strengths.
  3. Customize the language to fit you and then add more specific language about the actual projects that you’ve worked on.
    Let’s walk through an example. Here is the job description I selected.

    • Provide analytics strategy and expertise for teams.
    • Build AWS infrastructure to create efficiencies.
    • Build algorithms for automating analytics.
    • Build scalable data pipelines for data mining and analytics.
    • Build and manage various workflows to support daily development.

Let’s review – Provide analytics strategy and expertise for teams.

  • Define the analytics strategy and roadmap for multi-media marketing campaigns — from planning to development to execution to evaluation.
    • Led teams through dashboard development, tracking, and measuring deliverables, demonstrating a strong understanding of digital and social platforms, trends, and measurement approaches.
    • Applied innovative data analytics methodologies to drive customer insights for corporate brands.

Let’s review – Build AWS infrastructure to create efficiencies.

  • As part of a global architecture team, drove AWS infrastructure efficiencies and created a large impact on cloud software services and infrastructure in the entire organization.
    • Provided key architectural and cost related solutions to service teams.
    • Work closely with internal teams to improve existent and future key aspects of the product.

Let’s review – Build algorithms for automating analytics.

  • Build algorithms to automate activities through the analytics lifecycle, including:
    • Automatic Data Collection – data is prepared in just a few lines of code.
    • Auto-Data Cleaning – the most tedious tasks for a data scientist are automated.
    • Auto Data Exploration – the preliminary step in data analysis and model building is automated.

Let’s review – Build scalable data pipelines for data mining and analytics.

  • Built scalable data pipelines to source data analytics efforts.
    • Applied statistical modeling techniques for retrospective and prospective analytics and machine learning.
    • Enabled the company to dramatically improve its cross-channel tracking and customer journey analysis.

Let’s review – Build and manage various workflows to support daily development.

  • Worked closely with teams to build and manage workflows to support daily development, database administration, and QA (functional, regression & performance testing). Projects include:
    • Designed a data model to support custom approval workflows and to record triggers to maintain data quality; enforced policy compliance and added personal accountability for management reviews.
    • Completed work that included the development of workflows to meet SOX, SEC, and FINRA requirements; and the creation of responses to FINRA and SEC inquiries based on trading workflows.


The content in your resume remains the primary way that you’ll get noticed. You don’t have to add large amounts of information to your resume, but certainly think about providing more business or technical context to your achievement statements. I have found that technology professionals do not need flamboyant or exaggerated language to get interviews. Nice straight-forward descriptions of the work that you’ve performed is what truly makes a difference.


About Jennifer Hay

I’ve been writing technical resumes and advising on career transitions for almost 15 years.

Throughout that time, I’ve read numerous articles about best practices for IT resume writing. What I found in those articles is a lot of bad information because it’s the same advice they give for non-technical professionals. This is important because IT resumes are different.

I built this website to share what I’ve learned in my career. I think you’ll find information on this website that will help make your IT resume a success.