The trickiest type of resume to master is the technical resume, as it needs to follow specific rules and practices that don’t apply to other resumes.
Here are the dos and don’ts of a winning technical resume:
Don’t: Use an Objective
Objectives used to be as obligatory as your “Education” or “Experience” sections. Now, however, most experts warn against including them.
As hiring manager Alison Green explains, “I’ve never seen an objective that made me more interested in hiring a candidate, and I’ve seen plenty that actually hurt a candidate’s chances. At best they’re neutral, so why risk it?”
Objectives also take up valuable space on your resume and they’re usually unnecessary. Your objective is to find a position, which is why the hiring manager is reviewing your application!
Do: Use a Technical Summary
That being said, a technical summary is still necessary. Since technical roles usually require someone with a very specific skill set, you want to quickly prove that you’ve got the right qualifications.
After all, if the hiring manager is looking for someone who’s fluent in Java or Python, has used a large-scale distributed data processing framework, and understands RBDMS and SQL, then he or she is instantly going to reject all the candidates who don’t show they meet these criteria.
The common subcategories include technical/computer certifications, hardware, software, operating systems, programming languages, databases, web applications, and protocols. Use the categories that apply to you.
Don’t: Focus On the Past
And by the past, we mean the jobs you held 8-20 years ago. Since the tech world changes so fast, the technologies you were using and work you were doing in the early 2000’s, ‘90s, and earlier aren’t very compelling to employers.
So rather than going into depth with these positions, limit them to the company name, your job title, the dates of your employment, and 1-2 bullet points explaining your most impressive accomplishments or contributions.
Do: Focus on the Recent Past
The jobs you’ve held in the past five years should be fully explained. In general, the role you held last gets the most space, but it also depends on how long you stayed at each job—a position that lasted a year gets more room than a position that lasted two months.
List how you improved the company, and make sure to quantify these improvements. For example, rather than saying, “Analyzed organizational needs and implemented new data management software,” write, “Improved productivity by 20% after implementing new data management software.”
Every job seeker should use numbers on their resume, but it’s especially important when you work in a technical field—as you’re expected to be an analytical thinker.
Don’t: Forget the Soft Skills
There’s a pervasive myth that technical people can’t communicate, work well with others, or lead teams. That’s why it’s crucial to show that you have all of these skills.
We recommend weaving in resume bullets that highlight your soft skills. Imagine that in your previous role, you helped train a new associate software engineer. That demonstrates you’re a great teacher, speaker, and mentor—desirable traits in any employee, but definitely in an engineer.
For example, add a bullet that says:
“On boarded, trained, and supported associate software engineer.”