Technical Resume Writing

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A technical resume uses almost the same strategies as any other kind of resume with one crucial exception. A technical resume must have a Technical Skills section included near the top of the first page of the resume.

I started my career as a career coach in 2000, just before a major bust in high tech industries, so I've written and reviewed my fair share of IT resumes. The most common mistake people make when writing this kind of resume lies in failing to include a Technical Skills section near the beginning of the resume.

Instead of listing their technical skills in a separate section that is easy to read at a glance, people often list those crucial skills within the descriptions of each job they held. This approach is not effective because your technical skills become buried within your job descriptions. Without a Technical Skills section, there is no place on your resume that allows the employer to quickly, at a glance, review your specific set of technical skills.

Employers typically spend about thirty seconds (at most) initially reviewing resumes. If you make people work too hard to find your technical skills, particularly if they are reviewing a lot of resumes, your resume will very likely end up in the 'no' pile even if you do have the skills to do the job.

Also, many technical resumes are reviewed by a human resource professional before they reach anyone in the company who has a real understanding of the technical language included in your resume. That human resource professional may be looking for a few very specific skills, and if those skills are not listed very clearly on your resume, it will not be obvious to a non-technical person that you do possess the skills required for the job.

Tips for Creating an Effective Technical Skills Section

  • A good Technical Skills summary is a well organized, complete, to the point list of your relevant technical skills. Do not use sentence form to note your skills, and avoid elaborating on your accomplishments in this section (you can do that elsewhere in your resume). Simply include a clear list of your relevant technical skills.
  • Your list of technical skills will probably be quite long. In general, you should limit any lists on your resume to a maximum of six to eight items. Any more than that and your list will become cluttered and difficult to read at a glance.That means that it's wise to divide your technical skills into categories that make sense. You'll then be able to include subsections within your Technical Skills section. Some examples of subsections that you may use, depending upon your own skill set are: Operating Systems, Hardware, Software, Networking, Programming Languages and Certifications.
  • Whatever subheadings you choose to use in your Technical Skills section, aim to have about four to eight items listed in each subheading. If you only have a couple of items under each subheading, your list of skills will look sparse. If you have more than about eight skills listed under each subheading, the list will become difficult to read at a glance.
  • To see an example of a Technical Skills section, take a look at the technical resume template.
  • Writing a good Technical Skills section is crucial to when you write a technical resume. Beyond that, the standard rules for resume writing apply to IT resumes. To ensure you do a great job writing the rest of your resume, you can find more tips on resume writing on the resume ideas page.

Related: Technical Resume Template

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