It is estimated that on average a recruiter or hiring manager spends about 5-7 seconds reading a resume. I am sure you would agree, it is an extremely short amount of time to leave an impression right?
Competition is very tough as the tech industry is one of many high-paying industries that are also in very high demand. Therefore, it is important to make sure your resume stands out, is relevant and ultimately, lands you your dream job. Below are some of my top tips from a technical recruiter's perspective.
This is the first thing the reader will see. It should include your name, contact information, and your title, which I would advise to be relevant to the job you are applying for. As this is the first thing that will be seen, you do not want to waste your first opportunity here at being noticed.
For example, a Full-stack Developer has chosen she now wants to focus more on the front-end. To do this, she has decided to apply for a Front-end developer role to build on these skills. Of course, her previous title would have been “Senior Full Stack Developer” for example, which for some companies may be deemed as irrelevant as they may be looking for someone with solely a front-end focussed background. Remember, you want to make sure your header is relevant to the position you are applying for.
On this occasion, you may choose to simply put “Software Developer” to ensure your resume is not sifted out on the assumption that your profile is irrelevant. This does not mean that you can not mention your full-stack experience in the main body of your resume. However, it simply means the reader will need to read on a bit to know your resume is relevant.
Also, if you have chosen to add links to your LinkedIn profile, GitHub, or technical blog, make sure these are appropriate, professional, and most importantly, up to date.
As with the header, this is also what will be noticed in the first few seconds a recruiter or hiring manager reads your resume. If your resume is messy or poorly structured, it is unlikely to be noticed. Reading a resume is one of the few occasions where “do not judge a book by its cover” does not apply. Make sure your profile is a reflection of you as a person and the potential future employee you would like to be known as. Ensure your layout is clear, well structured, and organized to ensure the relevant information can be found easily.
To do this, I would advise a simple layout, with the same font used throughout. As a front-end developer, for example, you would be responsible for how a platform looks and is designed, therefore the design and structure of your resume is a reflection of your work. It is very important you pick a layout that shows who you are as a professional and what you can offer to the job, one that shows your experience efficiently and appropriately. Choose a resume layout that highlights your experience clearly and is relevant to the job you are applying for.
Although not compulsory and whilst some may opt-out of this, a strong resume often includes a punchy summary that highlights your career objectives and provides context behind your application for a given job. Take the scenario above as an example, of a Fullstack Developer applying to a fully front-end focussed position. The reader may at first not know why this resume would be relevant, thus your personal summary could highlight your career objective and provide an explanation for this.
Think of your personal statement or summary as a tiny snapshot of who you are as a professional and what you are setting out to do in your next role. You may also choose to tailor your personal statement to the role's requirements. This again, tells your reader why your profile is suitable and why they should continue to read on. It may also be the case that they choose not to read on, but from your powerful personal statement, which is tailored to the role including all of the necessary information a hiring manager will want to know, they choose to proceed and invite you for a conversation. Both are a win-win scenario.
Your experience/the main body
One common assumption is that a one-page CV is more likely to be read in comparison to a lengthy essay-like resume. In some sense, this is true, as often despite how relevant your experience may be, hiring managers might not have the time to read through a 10-page resume. However, the issue with a one-page resume is that it does not provide you with the space to elaborate on your experience and technical skills, which again would show your reader why you would be suitable for the position. For example, if on your one-page resume, you only have space to put the company, the period of time you were there for, and your title, how will the reader know your experience is relevant? In my experience, for Senior Developer positions, it is assumed that either you have not taken the time to put together a strong resume or that your level of seniority is not there due to the lack of technical language. A one-page resume simply just does not allow you to show off and show the level of seniority I am sure you would like to display.
As I said above, a recruiter or hiring manager is only likely to look at your resume for a brief amount of time, a quick scan from top to bottom maybe. Again, this means you have to grab the reader's attention very quickly. Of course, if you are a recent graduate your experience may be brief, which is absolutely fine. Your experience may well be the projects you have completed during your degree or any internships you did throughout the summer, and even a work placement during your course. Remember, as I said, this is OK.
However, if you have around 5 years of experience in a professional working environment, show it! Show the skills you have gained, the technical projects you have been a part of and are proud of. During the recruitment process, a hiring manager is looking for what you can bring to their team. Therefore your resume is somewhat a showcase of your past projects you have done for your previous employers. Of course, you’ll want to be concise, but finding the right balance between concise and being able to display your technical skills is important.
Here, you may also want to highlight what skills you have that may be relevant to the position you are applying for. For example, if a company is looking for someone who will take ownership of certain tasks and technical decisions or someone who will be mentoring junior engineers, you may want to highlight this in your experience. For example, state in what positions you have mentored junior engineers and how many or state when you have made a certain technical decision that was beneficial for the rest of your team. This will show your reader why you are the perfect fit for this position.
Pick out certain keywords a company has used in the job description and incorporate these into your resume. Although unlikely, before any human eyes, it may be the case a company uses a certain program that sifts through any unnecessary or irrelevant resumes. Therefore, using keywords they too have used may increase your chances of passing this first computer screening.
Please note, this advice is simply from my experience within the tech industry. I hope you have found it helpful and relevant.