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IT resume tips to help you land your dream job

These resume tips may seem basic, but they correct common mistakes, say experts.

You're ready to find your next IT gig. You've put together what you think is the perfect resume, listing all your previous jobs, showing a nice upward path from one to the next. You've carefully detailed all of your tech skills, from your Python and SQL expertise to your multicloud proficiency and data engineering chops. Time to send it out, lean back, and wait for the job offers to start pouring in.

Well, not exactly. There's a good chance your resume could still use some work.

We've gathered the following tips from J.M. Auron, a leading IT and IT executive resume writer. So read on, make adjustments if you need to, send it out, and then wait for the job offers to flow your way.

Tip No. 1: Keep it short

Resumes shouldn't be the length of doorstopper-size novels. "I've seen plenty of epic, never-ending-story resumes that can run five, seven, 10, or more pages," says Auron. "Anything much beyond three pages is overkill. So when putting your resume together, make sure you're including only information that adds real value."

He adds, "A lot of people believe they have to include everything they've ever done, but a resume isn't your entire career—it should present your highlights. Too much detail is particularly a problem with project-based resumes where people include every project they've worked on. You should include only a handful of projects, each of which demonstrates something unique you've delivered for the business or that shows off a different technical skill. Don't list the 35 times you've done the same kind of SAP implementation."


Tip No. 2: Don't get lost in the technical weeds

On a tech resume, you might think you need to provide an exquisite amount of detail about your technical skills. Bad idea. "Beware of putting together a technical laundry list with every one of your skills," Auron says. "You don't want to include so much technology that people's eyes glaze over, even if you're looking for a job at the developer level. Remember, this is going to be first read by the human resources department. They're not interested in that big a list. They just want to see your most important skills."

Tip No. 3: Move beyond technology

As you become more accomplished and move higher up the job ladder, you need to emphasize management skills more and technical skills less.

"As you move into a leadership role, it's true you'll want to include some technical details on your resume if they're critical, but they shouldn't be your primary emphasis," Auron explains.

Rather, emphasize the results you've achieved as a manager. Companies want to see the specific business problems you've solved using technology more than the technologies you've used to solve them. And you should always focus on the results rather than the actions you've taken to get the results.

"On resumes I often see, 'Did this, did that, was responsible for this, managed that,' but there's no business context included or description of the benefits," he says. "You need to lay out the business problem you solved and the benefits you've achieved clearly."

He also warns, "It's a red flag if a hiring manager wants a huge amount of technical detail in a resume for a CTO job and it's not a start-up where the CTO needs to be hands-on. You don't want to find yourself in a job as CTO where you're writing code or laying cable instead of doing the strategic, high-level work that CTOs need to do."

Tip No. 4: Nobody cares what you did in 1987

There's no need to include every job you've ever had, and doing so could be held against you.

"I've seen resumes where the jobs listed go back 30 and 40 years," Auron says, "and that's a problem. Age discrimination is illegal, and age discrimination is wrong. But age discrimination is everywhere in the workforce, especially in the technology industry, and you don't want to be victimized by it."

In addition, potential employers care about only your most recent jobs, so go just a few jobs back. "There's no hard-and-fast rule to adhere to, but I generally don't recommend going back further than 2002," he says.

Tip No. 5: Put together a resume for your next job, not a previous one

Auron warns against putting together what he calls a bottom-of-the-ladder resume. He says, "People have a tendency to write their resumes based on what they did one, two, three, or more jobs ago. A line manager will tend to write a resume that looks like a developer resume, and a CIO/CTO will frequently write a resume that looks like a line manager's resume."

Carefully examine what you're doing in your current job and what you want to do in your next one, and write a resume emphasizing the skills you have that are needed for that.

This article/content was written by the individual writer identified and does not necessarily reflect the view of Hewlett Packard Enterprise Company.