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Career Advice

How to Create a Stand-Out Tech Resume

9 minute read | February 20, 2019
Melanie Lawder

Written by:
Melanie Lawder

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Scan any list of high-paying jobs that are also in high demand and you’ll see the tech industry well represented, from data science positions to UX design roles. Competition for jobs in these exciting and attractive fields can be tough, so it’s imperative that you set yourself up for success by submitting an impeccable tech resume that catches the eye of a hiring manager or recruiter.

Whether you’re a software engineer, a digital marketer, or a data analyst, this guide will equip you with the tech resume tips needed to craft a stellar resume that will help you stand out from the crowd.

Tech Resume Tips

  1. Pick a tech resume format that highlights your experience and is appropriate for the job

  2. Start off with a personal summary that leaves an impression

  3. Lead with your expertise

  4. Study the job posting and adjust your resume accordingly

  5. Pay attention to what tech employers are looking for

  6. Back up your accomplishments with evidence

  7. Add links to professional profiles

  8. Always edit, and get a second set of eyes

Pick a tech resume format that highlights your experience and is appropriate for the job

Choosing a template to showcase your experience is the first step in the resume creation process—and it’s an important one.

Finding the appropriate resume format, one that presents your expertise in a favorable light can make a huge difference in the hiring process. The adage “first impressions are lasting impressions,” is true, whether you buy into it or not. And your resume is your potential employer’s first impression of who you are as a professional.

Therefore, it’s key to choose a tech resume template that showcases all you have to offer. The right format will vary depending on each specific person and the job they’re applying for, but you’ll want to make sure that your tech resume template meets the following three criteria:

  • Easy-to-read layout
  • Appropriate style for the job opportunity
  • Effectively and efficiently illustrates your experience

At a minimum, you’ll want to include the following sections on your tech resume:

  • Name and contact information
  • Personal summary
  • Work experience
  • Education
  • Relevant skills

Other optional fields you should consider incorporating are: awards you’ve won; projects you’ve led; and the contact information for professional references who can speak on your behalf.

As you’re drafting all of this information, it’s also important to include a general sense of when you accrued all your experience. Incorporate the time period in which you were employed for each job, the year in which you received an award and—if you recently graduated from school—the graduation year. This will give your employer a sense of how long you’ve been in the industry and a better picture of your career path so far.

You can find a host of free resume templates online to help you through the process. However, we’ve included two screenshots of technical resume examples from Zety to help you get inspired. The company has several free tech resume templates that you can peruse and use to your professional advantage:

tech resume example

(Source: Zety)

As you can see both above and below, these technical resume examples are aesthetically pleasing and skimmable. A recruiter or prospective employer would easily be able to scan the document and piece together a thorough summary of who you are and where your experience lies.

example tech resume

(Source: Zety)

Start off with a personal summary that leaves an impression

While some job seekers opt to leave a personal statement out, a good resume should always showcase a powerful career objective or personal summary that puts context around why you are applying for the specific role. If you’re applying for a back-end job, for example, and your experience is heavy on front-end roles, the reader is going to want to know why that is. Your career objective can provide that explanation. Think of these summaries, which are a few sentences long, as a snapshot of who you are professionally.

Here’s an example personal summary for an early-career data scientist who is applying for a job at an organization with a strong social conscious. This organization needs an independent worker who can relay hard-to-understand technical information to a non-technical audience.

“Self-starting and civic-minded data scientist with two years of experience using data to inform and drive sustainable solutions. Highly skilled in data visualization, data mining, statistical analysis, and communicating complex data sets to diverse audiences.”  

And here’s a smartly worded resume objective that outlines an IT project manager’s experience and strengths.

tech resume objective
(Source: Zety)

Lead with your expertise

In all likelihood, recruiters reviewing your tech resume are only going to glance at it for a few seconds. They’ll scan top-down, so do them (and yourself!) a favor by showing your best self.

“This means that you’ve got to get their attention quickly,” says resume writer Anna Farron from UKWritings. “When I create resumes, I tend to put the experience up at the top. That way, it’s the first thing they’re going to see.”

Tweaking your resume depending on where your experience lies is advisable. If you’ve just finished school, the accomplishments and project-based skills you’ve developed throughout your scholastic career will likely dominate your resume. And that’s OK.

However, if you’ve been in the workforce for a few years, you’ll want to lead with your work experience, career successes, and skills you’ve developed on the job. The employer wants to know what you can do for them, so showcasing the work you’ve completed for your past employers is a good way to help them envision you at their organization.

Study the job posting and adjust your resume accordingly

Closely read the job posting to see what the company is looking for, and then tailor your tech resume. Pick out important keywords and incorporate them into the resume. Many larger companies use computer programs to sift through resumes before a human sees them, so using the right keywords can increase your chances of getting through this initial screening.

Related: 7-Step Guide to Making Your Data Science Resume Stand Out

When listing your skills, look at the job description for the role you’re interested in. Tailor the skills section to reflect how your experience qualifies you for this specific role. You may not have worked in the exact role in question, but some of the skills you’ve learned during your career—such as learning a coding language, implementing training software, and using database frameworks—are likely applicable to the position you’re applying for.

This takes a little extra effort, but the return on investment is potentially huge.

Pay attention to what tech employers are looking for

To better understand what tech sector employers are looking for in a candidate, we perused tech job listings and employer websites searching for in-demand character traits and skills. Of course, the hard and soft skills outlined below will depend on the specific role, but the following list should give you a better handle on the desired expertise that job candidates should include on a tech resume:

Hard skills to highlight

This is the technical expertise you should spotlight. As you’re applying for the position, scrutinize the job posting and take note of any software or coding knowledge the employer expects the candidate to possess. If you have those skills, make sure to shine a light on them in your resume. Here are a few examples of hard skills an employer expects a job candidate in tech to have:

  • For web developers, proficiency in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript is a must.
  • For those in cybersecurity, knowledge of programming and scripting languages is desired by employers, along with a track record of analyzing malware and large data sets.
  • Data scientist candidates should prop up their expertise in modeling techniques.
  • Machine learning engineers will want to highlight their proficiency in Python, or past experience with GPU computing and data mining.
  • Programmers should accentuate their experience with software like SAS and languages like SQL.

Related: The 5 Best Programming Languages for AI

Soft skills to highlight

Also known as “people skills,” these traits demonstrate that you bring more to the table than just your technical expertise. The following desired characteristics were common among many of the job postings we examined. Here’s why they are important:

  • Problem solver and creative thinker: Some tech workers may not think of themselves as creative, but there’s a great deal of originality in their line of work. Tech workers should highlight their ability to push themselves intellectually to solve tough problems.
  • Independent, but collaborative: Employers are looking for self-led workers who can also easily work with team members when needed. In tech, work is both independent and team-based, so it would be wise to underscore instances when you’ve thrived working on your own and with others.
  • Excellent communicator: Communication skills are always desired in the workplace, but especially so in tech. The ability to effectively communicate technical information to different audiences—including those who understand technical jargon and those who don’t—is a skill highly sought-after by employers.
  • Quick learner: Working in tech, you’ll need to adapt to new software and new tools all the time. On your resume, it would be advisable to demonstrate your ability to adapt quickly and seamlessly.

RelatedHow to Create a First-Rate UX Resume

Back up your accomplishments with evidence

Including your professional accomplishments is a critical component of a successful resume, but it’s not enough to just list them: you also need to back them up with evidence.

If you’ve improved the load speed of a client’s site, give them the numbers. If you’ve brought a significant number of new visitors to a site in a month, explain how you did it and provide relevant figures. In general, accomplishments are far more informative (and a better representation of your skills) than simply listing out job roles and responsibilities.

For example, if you’ve been working in a security position, your responsibilities may include monitoring and updating servers and files, securing information and protecting external hardware, such as printers and scanners. However, an accomplishment in this role could be that you managed to lower security threats affecting your business by 40 percent during your tenure. Or you could have streamlined the methods your team used to carry out their work or the procedures that took place.

The bottom line: Don’t act demure about your achievements. Boast about your professional victories—and be specific about how you accomplished them! Advertising and substantiating your own triumphs will give your potential employer a good idea of how you can employ your talents to their advantage.

Add links to professional profiles

As a current or aspiring tech worker, you’re more than likely to have a presence online that you’ll want potential employers to see. (If you don’t, you should seriously consider it.) So it’s a good idea to add links to LinkedIn, your online portfolio, or other sites in your resume. Most recruiters will be reading them on a computer, so they should be able to click through for more information. And even if they don’t click through, the additional corroboration lends credibility and clout to your final product.

Always edit, and get a second set of eyes

Finally, make sure you edit ruthlessly, and if you can, get a few sets of eyes on your tech resume. Of all the tech resume tips, this may seem the most obvious. Resumes are full of errors and brains have a tendency to scan over errors, so a fresh pair of eyes can help catch grammar gaffes and overlooked mistakes. Tech jobs, especially, need someone who will pay attention to the details—a missing or extra character in a line of code can bring down a website. And with competition fierce for the best jobs, errors on your resume may lead a prospective employer to pass right over you in favor of another candidate with a cleaner CV.

This post was originally written by Mary Walton from UKWritings in February 2018. It was updated by Melanie Lawder in February 2019.

Since you’re here…Are you interested in this career track? Investigate with our free guide to what a data professional actually does. When you’re ready to build a CV that will make hiring managers melt, join our Data Science Bootcamp which will help you land a job or your tuition back!

About Melanie Lawder

Melanie is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer. She has reported for publications like the Milwaukee Business Journal and the Wausau Daily Herald. Follow her on Twitter @mel_lawder.