The ‘New Breed’ of IT Resumes
Consider these two statements:
- Wrote and maintained scripts for HR Web site.
- Used VBScript and Java to develop self-serve features of HR Web site, reducing calls to employee call center by 30 percent, allowing staff reallocation.
The first statement lists a task; the second expands that information into an employer benefit. The emphasis on benefit is one aspect of the “new breed” of IT resume. Of course, there’s nothing really new about it; resumes quantifying results such as increased revenues or reduced costs have been commonplace in other areas of business for years. What’s new is that “benefit selling” is now imperative for access to the best jobs in technology, too.
Why is this so important? Because employers need to ensure a quality hire—someone who will require a short ramp-up time and begin contributing to the bottom line as soon as possible. With the current weakened economy, an employer’s return on investment is more critical than ever.
Your Secondary Audience
Selling the business advantages of your skills—as opposed to giving a “laundry list” of your tech experience—has a side benefit. It makes you much more attractive to your secondary audience, the HR person. To reach your primary audience, the technology hiring manager, your resume must first meet the approval of the person screening it. Since you can’t assume that the HR person has technical knowledge, try your best to match the requirements in the job ad by using the same terminology. Use standard abbreviations for certifications, note the stated job title and list the soft skills appropriate to the position.
Making the Translation
How can you translate your coding work into something measurable in business terms? One option is to ask questions of the accounting staff attached to your project. If you are developing an application for external customers, talk to the salespeople about projected volume and then follow up at the end of the year to find out what the sales actually were. Your counterparts in product marketing might be able to give you a leg up on getting the information you need. If your customers are internal, you still should be able to get an idea of the results. Ask those affected by your efforts to quantify the improvement in their processes. Tell them that you’re trying to educate yourself about the business impact of your work.
Another way to get away from the list-of-duties resume is to use achievement statements. This focuses a little less on the business and a little more on you, but the goal is to convey that you are an outstanding employee who can be relied on to raise the productivity of the whole department. Have you ever…
- Beaten a deadline or come in under budget?
- Developed an innovative idea or solved a sticky problem?
- Given a presentation or trained others?
- Earned recognition, such as an award, promotion or bonus?
- Led a project team or participated in company-sponsored volunteer work?
To brainstorm how valuable you are, think about the aspect of your job for which you’re considered the “go-to” guy or gal. When you go on vacation, what’s the gap your co-workers have trouble filling? Or, what was mentioned as your best quality in your performance review? Another way to think about it: What’s the area for which you should get an award?
Summarizing It All
Thinking about your career in terms of accomplishments is a good warm-up for the final exercise—writing your “Summary of Qualifications.” You can use a paragraph-style profile or a bulleted list, but just make sure what you write is brief because the summary is the teaser that makes the recruiter want to continue reading. The following is a typical formula for the summary:
- Length of experience.
- Breadth of industry experience.
- Particular strengths, such as communication or project management.
- Education or training relevant to the job you’re applying for.
- Personal traits: outgoing, flexible, dedicated, easy to get along with.
It’s easy to “overwrite” this section. Keep it pithy, remembering that you must save more detailed information for the interview.
Confidence in your abilities is the key to drawing an employer’s attention. A “can do” attitude, conveyed on paper or in the interview, gives an employer insight into your experience and potential. With your benefit-selling resume, you’ll assure employers of your leadership, overall excellence and eagerness to contribute to the company’s profitability.
Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, formerly RHI Consulting, a leading provider of IT professionals for initiatives ranging from e-business development and multi-platform systems integration to network engineering and technical support. Robert Half Technology has more than 100 locations in the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia and offers online job search services at www.roberthalftechnology.com.