Senior Technical Recruiter, Karalie Kanneh provides valuable insights for technical professionals to ensure their resumes grab the attention of hiring managers.
7 Eye-catching tips for writing technical resumes that grab the attention of hiring managers
Do you like to read a good novel? Do you enjoy listening to a story teller or a professional speaker? You have a chance to showcase your own person story and branding by simply penning a well-written and well-constructed technical resume. Studies have shown many hiring managers and HR personnel only spend an average of 6 seconds to scan a resume. Six seconds doesn’t give a candidate a lot of room for mistakes, so here are seven essentials to ensure that your technical resume stands out from the others.
1. Using the incorrect font can cause electronic resume scanning systems to automatically reject your resume!
While you may think it is a good idea to use an attractive font to grab the attention of the hiring manager… keep in mind that most resumes are first viewed by an electronic scanning system – and these systems may automatically reject your resume based on the font! Additionally, human readers of your resume may find (artsy) fonts hard to read.
Remember: hiring managers and HR professionals are scanning many resumes, and are typically spending 6 seconds initially scanning your resume. A hard to read font can cause your resume to be immediately placed in the discard file. Content for electronic scanning systems and their human counterparts are far more important than a fancy font.
I recommend sticking to one standard business font such as Calibri, Arial, or Cambria. If you choose to use multiple font types, then use those that work together and only two fonts at the most. Use only black font, with the exception of URLs auto-highlighted in blue. Remember that multiple colored fonts may be hard to read for humans, and may not be read at all by electronic systems and scanners.
Use these fonts: Arial (most commonly used on resumes and does not experience scanning errors), Calibri (a safe and universally readable font), or Cambria (a serif font part of the ClearType font collection)
2. Use bold sparingly and avoid underlining
It’s OK to use some bold in your resume text. Many resume writers may bold their previous job titles within each section of the document and to use bold type for headlines. As for underlining—just don’t do it. Multiple studies have shown that most readers find underlined text difficult to read.
3. Use white space in your layout
Create one inch margins all around your resumes and leave appropriate blank spaces between sections. Create several distinct chunks of information which can easily be read (and more likely scanned in less than 15 seconds!) Never color the background of your resume which is something I am seeing more often, black backgrounds look awful!
4. Use bullet points
Use bullet points for your technical skills summary and for highlighting accomplishments. Using bullet points makes it easier for hiring managers to scan through your resume – and scan they will!
Here is an example:
- Senior .Net Developer with 15 years of full stack software development
- 8 years of experience leading software teams and projects
- 5 years of experience as a Scrum Master and Agile Coach
- Technical skills: .Net Core, C#, Asp.net, MVC, Entity Framework, SQL Server, Xamarin
5. Use appropriate social media URL links in lieu of images
While images are widely accepted outside of the U.S., images are not quite so common on resumes in the U.S. In lieu of using a picture of yourself on your resume, add social medial URL links where people can view pictures of yourself.
Ensure that your head shot looks professional, and your face should take up 75% of the picture. Also, make sure that your LinkedIn account has a profile image. Not having an image can make you appear untrustworthy!
LinkedIn is a great social media platform for business, but avoid linking to your Facebook account: Facebook is generally for family and friends. Increasingly, businesses will look at your Facebook profile anyway, so ensure that you set your Facebook profile to private (only viewable by family and friends) – and ensure that your Facebook profile picture is not embarrassing: do a google search on yourself and click on images – if you don’t like what you see, update your profile images on all your social media platforms.
This is a great profile pic for your family and friends showing what a great time you had on vacation – BUT is the image that you would like your future employer to see as their first impression of you – – enjoying a beer, in the daytime?? Even if you have all of your social media set to private, anyone can still view your profile images!
Links to GitHub accounts, personal business websites, and examples of your work are highly recommended. I do not recommend links to Facebook, but feel free to add links to Twitter and YouTube if content is business appropriate.
Hiring managers and HR professionals are becoming sophisticated about checking candidate’s social media activity to see if candidates are a match culturally. Best advice: don’t put content out on social media that will portray you in a bad light for hiring purposes.
6. Utilize good content to create technical stories
Write good technical stories of how you and your team won and executed complex issues. Explain your bullets in technical terms (and avoid acronyms that are not industry recognized) and briefly explain the problems you were trying to solve or solved. Write a brief paragraph with a few bullet points, and include the results and the technologies used for each environment.
When expanding on details, it is okay to go over two pages as long as you use bullet points. Utilize white space to make the text easy to read, but keep the resume under 6 pages. Technical professionals are one of the few groups that are allowed to go past the one page resume rule. I recommend one page technical resumes for junior or entry level candidates who only have one or two jobs under their belt.
7. Spell check your resume!!
While this is the most fundamental items you can do to improve your resume, I have received a shocking amount of resumes that were not spelled checked. More shocking, I have received senior level resumes that were not spell checked. There is no excuse for spelling errors on a resume, as there are a multitude of free tools that literally take seconds to find spelling errors. I also recommend reading your resume out loud. Oftentimes, the simple act of reading out loud can identify other grammatical errors.
You have amazing talent, but spelling errors can be viewed by hiring companies as an indication of laziness and having a lack of attention to detail – a critical requirement in all technical jobs!
Bottom Line: Be consistent throughout your resume!
Being consistent is one of the most overlooked yet most important qualities of a successful employee. Consistency is a characteristic that will allow tell your career story to shine in your resume! Other useful tips for consistency:
- If you use all caps to represent the name of your most recent workplace, then use all caps to represent your previous workplaces
- If you use bold-centered text for the first section, then use bold-centered text for additional sections.
If you are consistent throughout the resume, you will subtly establish a reading pattern for potential employers that will help them follow your resume easily; and you are sending a message that you are consistent and have a high attention to detail which is essential to all technical jobs.
If you need assistance, or have questions, please leave a comment here or message me on LinkedIn: I am happy to help you achieve your career goals. Remember: a series of small steps taken correctly can achieve your big goals!
Arrow Solutions Group is an Engineering & IT Staffing company, specializing in providing talent for staff augmentation, contract-to-hire, direct placement, or IT Executive Searches. By providing a personalized experience and keeping values at the core of our process, we deliver the best experiences in the industries we serve: Telecommunications, Healthcare, and Banking.