Launching The IT Job Hunt
October 16, 2007
You’ve decided to enter the IT field, and you’ve either spent time in school readying your skills or know you have the interest and initiative to move into the field from another occupation.
You know what kind of job you want and you’ve investigated potential employers you’d like to reach out to and apply for a job. But the very first thing you need to do is build a compelling resume that will catch a hiring manager’s attention and make him pick up the phone to call you.
Readying The Resume
How you create and develop your resume depends on your current job situation. It can be hard to make a resume look meaty and enticing when you’re just out of college, or have been working in a very different field. Yet hopefully you’ve done at least one internship and possibly worked part time in your chosen tech field. If you’re transitioning into IT you need to review your past employment roles and pull out any achievement nuggets and data that indicates you have the tech skill sets for the job opening.
In most cases, for new grads, it makes sense to put the Education section at the beginning of your resume. But if you’ve got a lot of great internship, co-op or work experience closely related to your chosen field, position your Experience section ahead of Education. Here’s another resume area where there’s no rule: Put it where it makes the most sense for you and your particular skills and experiences.
Include your GPA if it’s above a 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale). If not, try to make it look better by highlighting your major GPA instead of your cumulative one or calculating your GPA for the last three or four semesters, for example.
Also, don’t overlook or ignore the skills you’ve gained from jobs you’ve taken simply to get through school. Alternative learning experiences, like studying abroad or conducting research. Include your computer and Internet use and related skills. Even include your extracurricular activities if they indicate that you’re a go-getter and well -rounded individual. Don’t hesitate to highlight nonpaying work and volunteer experiences if they’ve given you bragging rights.
Generally, not many employers care much about pre-college data. There are exceptions, of course. Suppose you won a national award in high school, or you accomplished something extraordinary. Then you should highlight it, especially if it’s connected to your chosen field. Remember: Resume writing is much more art than science, so just as you would with an art project, express yourself the way that works best for you and the information you’re trying to portray.
No matter what your particular job situation the resume is the place to emphasize your strongest credential. Think about why an employer should hire you out of all the applicants for the job. What do you offer that they don’t?
Perhaps you have practical work experience and skills that are relevant to the job. If your experience is stronger than your education, place your work history before education on your resume, and write about your career achievements, track record of results and industry knowledge. Include a detailed listing of your accomplishments throughout your career.
Prove that your work performance has been outstanding and you would be an asset to your future employer’s operation. By the time hiring managers read the education section, they should be so impressed by the value you offer that educational shortcomings could be overlooked. It’s true that some employers will not be interested in you because you lack the job opening’s educational requirement, but you will find other employers that welcome your experience, skills and expertise.
If you lack a formal degree, but you’ve participated in ongoing training throughout your career, you can make that work for you on a resume. Emphasize all of your continuing education by creating a Professional Development section within the Education section. Think about job-related training, certifications, conferences, in-service training, seminars, online learning and even self-directed study. For some new professionals, especially those transitioning from another job role, this section can be quite impressive, and showing recent, up-to-date training can be more valuable than a dated degree.
Whenever possible, follow up on resumes that you submit. Many employers using electronic resume-tracking systems automatically screen out applicants who don’t meet the educational requirements. You will have a much better chance of convincing an employer that you are a strong candidate if you make a personal connection with a hiring manager.