Highlighting Relevant Technical Experience in a Resume or Cover Letter
This year’s World Economic Forum in Davos discussed how the cost-of-living crisis, rampant inflation, and rising unemployment, are affecting the current job market. While competition is expected to be intense, positive trends are emerging with 1 billion jobs predicted to be transformed by technology in the next decade. This underlines the importance for job seekers of knowing how to properly highlight their technical experience on a resume and increase their professional value in the job market.
Importance of a Resume When Pursuing a Tech Job
A resume is important for a lot of reasons, but the ultimate purpose is to get you an interview. It shows the potential employer that you are a good match for their company and for the role available. Your resume communicates your qualifications and your brand—who you are and what makes you different—to employers and recruiters. As a basic requirement for every job application, including referrals, resumes play an important role in the job search process. A well-written resume optimized to fit the role you are applying to helps you stand out and improves your chances of catching the interest of a recruiter. In a nutshell, a resume introduces you to potential employers, presents your qualifications, and secures an interview for you. It showcases your experiences, education, and skills in a standardized format which is easy for recruiters to read.
Optimize Your Resume to Fit a Tech Role
A skillfully written resume will help you present your years of experience in a distilled format, bringing attention to the value that a potential employee can derive from you. This is why it’s crucial to be mindful of what information you are putting on a resume, how you format it, and what message it is sending to the recruiter.
What do recruiters look for in a resume, you ask? It depends. Different clients have different demands but in general, the areas of high interest for most recruiters are the work experience and skillset section.
I look at the hard skills section, soft skills (sometimes inferred from the body of the resume), education (not always needed), certifications, when necessary, description of work done and the role you played in various projects contained in the resume.
Okechukwu Sunday Ogayi, Recruitment Lead at Symphony Solutions
Below are some tips for optimizing a resume:
- Keep it concise: As the popular saying goes, “Less is more”. Some researchers claim that the average recruiter spends less than 10 seconds looking at a resume. To make an impression at first glance, highlight only relevant information about experience, skills and education history. No more than two pages is advised.
- Compare with vacancies: Tailor the resume to the job by comparing it to the information in the vacancy or advert and using the relevant keywords. This step is important because most organizations now use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen resumes. In some cases, qualified candidates may fall through because the system does not consider their resume a match for the role.
- Write to Fit the Role: You may wear many hats and be qualified for more than one position. This is why it is important to tweak and polish up your resume for every job posting instead of using a general resume to apply for different positions.
- Highlight Achievements: Using the task + result format ensures that only relevant information is shared. The task + result format is a breakout from the STAR method where the Situation, Task, Action, and Result are highlighted. Focusing on only the tasks and results helps to summarize the achievement on the resume.
- Visual Appeal: The most basic resume templates are the easiest to read. Use a simple layout and legible font.
- Proofread: Check for spelling and grammatical errors. Wait a while and then take another look.
‘Red flags’ or what to avoid in a resume:
- Poor formatting;
- Employment history without dates;
- Multiple job changes in a short time;
- Obvious spelling errors;
- Listing a lot of hard skills without describing where they were used in work experiences;
- Using fonts that are difficult to read;
How to Show Your Technical Experience on a Resume
We’ve established that tech skills and experience are what makes your resume attractive to a potential employer. What are technical skills? Why are they so important for a job seeker?
Technical experience is the kind of skills and knowledge that you acquire when working in technology and engineering and using a complex toolset, either software or hardware, to accomplish your work tasks.
Some of the tech skills that are in high demand in the current IT job market are:
- Full stack development;
- Mobile App development;
- Manual testing;
- Big Data;
- Cloud computing;
- AI and ML;
- UX/UI design;
- Technical writing;
- and more.
When writing your resume or CV, make sure you add a Skills section where you mention all the tech skills. Indicate the ones you are proficient in and the ones you are just familiar with. Mention where you used the listed skills in the description of work done in the Work history section. Your CV should be about things you accomplished in various job roles rather than the responsibilities you were meant to carry out.
Tips on Making Your Resume Stand Out
- Describe and if possible, quantify your accomplishments and not just list your job responsibilities.
- Highlight important information and relevant skillsets in the summary section.
- Include Tech stacks used in each role, especially IT roles.
- Use good fonts and format the resume properly. And finally, check for spelling errors.
When applying for a job, you are aiming to fit into a well-tuned mechanism of an established team. Be mindful of the information that you are putting on your resume and how you are choosing to present it. This is a way to build up your professional persona before your potential employer even gets a chance to meet you. Show the value that you can bring to the company and the project. Showcase your industry expertise and highlight your accomplishments.
Writing a Cover Letter for a Tech-Heavy Resume
In addition to a resume, cover letters are increasingly growing their importance in the process of applying for a job. They are essentially a gateway to your resume. A cover letter is a one-page document that better expresses why you are a good fit for a position. Write it in a persuasive tone and focus on highlighting or providing more context to the information on your resume. Recruiters spend more time reading cover letters than resumes – 1 minute vs. 10 seconds. Considering this fact, it’s a safe bet to invest a few extra minutes into polishing up your cover letter and making it appealing.
Your cover letter should take this format:
- Introduction – write a captivating introduction and express your interest in the job. The introduction is the first thing that the recruiter reads and often determines if they will read the whole letter or send it to the bin.
- Body – In the body of your letter, emphasize the relevant skills and achievements. You may either adopt a storytelling format or use bullet points.
- Conclusion – Always close the cover letter with a short appreciation note and a summary of why you are a good fit.
Also, don’t forget to indicate how you can be contacted and refer the recruiter to your resume for more information. When sending a cover letter, you are starting a conversation for potential future collaboration. Make it polite and inviting.
Sample Cover Letters Summarizing Technical Experience
Example of a detailed cover letter:
Properly composed, a resume becomes your entry pass to a job interview where you will be able to showcase all your skill and expertise in real time. Preparation is just as important as performance. If you have what it takes to succeed in a job position, you need to translate the same knowledge and confidence to the recruiter who first encounters you through a standard-size sheet of paper, putting you into a confined space that you need to use wisely.
What is technical experience?
Technical experience exemplifies your time working with complex tools and systems, both software and hardware, performing skilled work, and using acquired knowledge in technology and engineering.
What basic technical experience should you put on your resume?
You may include on a resume your technical skills in using programming languages, operating systems and professional software, as well as data analysis, technical writing, and project management.
How to list technical skills on a resume?
Have a dedicated “Skills” section on your resume where you list your skills and core competencies. Organize your tech skills in order of relevance and include a concise description of your experience and proficiency level if applicable.
How to write a cover letter summarizing technical experience?
Highlight the technical skills relevant to the position you are applying to. Show what value it provides without overexaggerating. Be clear and concise.