5 Tips for Your Technical Resume

career success Aug 09, 2016

You’ve earned your certifications. Maybe you have a college degree, and hopefully some technical experience. Now, it’s time to sell yourself to a prospective employer. We all know first impressions matter, and when it comes to the job seeker, that first impression is often in the form of a resume.

Personally, I’ve poured through tons of resumes while hiring Network Engineers when I was a Network Manager at a university. Of course, I’ve been on the other side of the table too, and have updated and fine-tuned my resume dozens of times.

Resumes need to quickly let a hiring manager get a sense for how you can help their company meet their objectives. Towards that end, let’s check out five quick tips for honing your technical resume.

Tip #1: Be Brief

A mistake I’ve made in my resumes, is being way too verbose. What I failed to realize is more is not necessarily better when it comes to resumes. A hiring manager is wading through a pile of resumes. So, they’re probably not going to spend that much time on your resume the first time they see it. Make your resume a highlight reel of your career, not an in-depth documentary. My recommendation is to limit your resume to two pages (or maybe three pages max, if you have a long work history).

Tip #2: Focus on Results

If a business wants to hire you, it’s because of the results they expect to get from you. That’s important to keep in mind as you’re crafting the “Experience” section of your resume. For example, rather than saying, “I have five years of experience as a Network Engineer,” you might say, “I personally installed and maintained 25 Cisco routers (running OSPF) and 50 Cisco Catalyst switches (running Rapid STP).”

Tip #3: Omit Your Objectives

Most of my resumes started with a “Career Objectives” section, where I proclaimed what I wanted to do in my career. However, that’s not of primary interest to a hiring manager. They’re much more interested in what you can do for them. So, I recommend banishing the “Career Objectives” section from your resume.

Tip #4: Have Zero Tolerance for Typos

There are few things that will torpedo a resume quicker than typos (including grammatical errors). You should proofread your resume multiple times and also have family and friends read through it. The reason is, typos communicate that you don’t pay attention to detail, and if you made mistakes on such a critical document, you’ll probably make lots of mistakes in your job.

Tip #5: Highlight Your Top Certifications

Another mistake I used to make is listing every single certification and training course I had ever taken. However, if I’m going after a job as a Network Designer, I don’t want relevant certifications (e.g. CCDP and CCIE R/S) being diluted with a mention of a UNIX shell scripting class I took 15 years ago. So, highlight your top certs. For example, if you have a CCNA R/S, CCNP R/S, and CCIE R/S, just list the CCIE R/S. After all, if you have a CCIE certification in a specific track, any lesser certifications in that track feel like filler, and you don’t want that.

With these tips fresh in your mind, this might be a good time to open your current resume and do a little fine-tuning. Even if you’re not currently in the job market, it’s a good idea to keep your resume up-to-date. You never know when you’ll need it.

Kevin Wallace, CCIEx2 (R/S and Collaboration) #7945


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