If you have searched for a job in a technical field—engineering, IT, software development and so on—you know about unrealistic expectations. Many job postings, advertisements and calls from recruiters involve a list of desired technical skills that could take two lifetimes to accomplish. Yet, you still need all the required skills for that exact job posting.
This level of unrealistic expectations is just one way that technical resumes often differ from nontechnical resumes. To deal with this, you need to consider the following:
- First, you must ensure that you meet at least the minimum requirements for the job. If you don’t meet those requirements, I advise you on how to find more suitable announcements or consider looking for a job in a different field.
- Second, if you are close to meeting the requirements for a technical position, you may want to network and see if the company will write a job announcement just for you so that you are the one who passes the screen.
- Third, be sure the resume lists the technical skills that you already have. Then focus on the results of using those skills. The fact that you managed to go from Point A to Point C is much more important than how, exactly, you got there. So, for example, the resume might say “Automated builds and streamlined releases by migrating source code from X to Y,” where X and Y are tools you currently have.
- Fourth, I make it clear on the resume that you are capable of learning other technologies or taking on additional responsibilities. Sometimes this is shown by describing soft skills, coursework, projects you undertook outside your normal responsibilities (perhaps while volunteering elsewhere), and papers you have written. Sometimes this is shown by an actual list of skills you plan to develop or are capable of learning.
- Fifth, even if your resume passes the Applicant Tracking System and shows you are qualified for the job, those who network and are known by the company and/or hiring manager have an 80% better chance to be hired. So start now to develop professional relationships that may pay off with a job offer in the long term.
- Sixth, technical resumes must relate complex information to hiring managers and recruiters who may not be as technically savvy. That is why you must always stress achievements, as even the most nontechnical person can see the value in streamlining a process; capturing millions of dollars in savings by switching from one strategy to another; or leading teams across geographic or internal corporate boundaries.
It is important to include as many keywords as possible from those that a potential employer will expect because most resumes today are graded and must pass computerized Applicant Tracking Systems before you can be hired. Many of those systems are programmed to look for specific keywords and select only those resumes that contain the keywords. Make sure your resume is among them.
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