How to Showcase Your Strengths in Your IT Resume

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By Jennifer L. Hay

Your IT resume needs to tell the story of who you are and be more than just a description of the technical jobs you’ve held. There are thousands of IT professionals performing similar jobs, so you need to be able to showcase your strengths. Essentially describe what makes you different, more valuable, and a better team member and contributor than the other candidates.

I often find that the biggest problem with IT resumes is that they don’t adequately describe the person’s work and are not organized to highlight their abilities. When they submit their resume, they are contacted for contract positions or positions far below their skillset.

Many technical professionals focus more on the technology and far less with making a connections with a very strong business support component and a business alignment component. This is particularly important for those in management positions, such as Project Managers, IT Managers, and IT Directors.

Reworking your resume should start with what is really important to you as well as a clear understanding of your strengths.  With my clients, I get the conversation going by asking, “What challenging situations have you faced and how did you resolve the problems?” The answers are often surprising, terrifying, and, at times, a bit funny. Here are the beginnings of some stories I’ve heard. As you can see, the beginnings were awful, but the resume stories were fabulous.

  • “The CEO of our company liked the technology vendor and purchased an enterprise system that was far too complex for our needs and incompatible with our technology architecture. “
  • “On day one of my new job, I came into our call center and there were numerous fans scattered across the floor because the systems were overheating.”
  • “The company’s primary network engineer got angry at his boss, locked down our network, changed the password, and then disappeared.”
  • “The company was very cheap with our security tools, and we were hacked with a malware attack. The company didn’t want to pay the ransom even though 60% of our systems were impacted.”
  • “I took over an important project that was 6 months behind schedule, had produced low quality deliverables, had a team with no interest in the outcome. There was lots of finger pointing and hostility.”
  • “I had to go back to the business to gather requirements for a project that had been redefined and restructured 3 times. The business users hated IT and were uncooperative.”

Let’s look at some other ways that rework your resume to get noticed and interviewed.

Make your resume less dense and more streamlined so the hiring manager can easily digest the information and get a good feeling about who you are. Make sure that the reason for the project and the value derived from it is prominent and meaningful.

Change the layout. Add color and make sure the font style is common. Add white space and use a font size that is at least Arial 10.

Be clear about what makes you different.

  • Do you exceptional at turning around projects?
  • Can you bring teams together and get them committed to the end goal?
  • Are you a fanatical problem solver who excels in root cause analysis, following the thread through complex systems and processes?
  • Do you have those difficult discussions with the business leadership about timelines and deliverables?
  • Can you take ownership of critical projects and assume a number of different job roles to delivery the solution?

Add a recommendation or a quote from a performance review. If I have a great quote, I’ll add it in color so its easy to see.  A good manager will use a performance review to help an underperforming individual with improvement suggestions, as well as to praise overperformers. Looks at your reviews. Sometimes your manager has a better understanding of your strengths then you do. Leverage that.

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.

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