Having a technical background, I know how easy it is to fall back on technical descriptions of my achievements. But unlike other industries, IT resumes have two entirely different readers. Each reader brings their own perspective, knowledge, and experiences to the task of finding highly skilled technical professionals to fill vacant positions.
Your resume needs to speak to both of these readers and peak their interest in wanting to learn more about you. This is a very difficult task when you consider that resumes for mid-level professionals are typically no more than 2 pages (2.5 pages when the individual has a very robust technology profile.)
HR managers generally have a specific list of job requirements that represent the minimal acceptable skills. They’re going to quickly scan your resume, giving you a maximum of 30 seconds. In that short time frame, they want to see the following:
- Your years of experience
- Titles/positions that you’ve held
- Your work history — employers and dates
- Industries in which you have experience
- Education and other related credentials
- The value you’ve provided to other organizations
When you describe your accomplishments in only very technical terms, you’ve already shown that you’re not able to speak in language that the business can understand. Even in very technical positions, leading off with a solid business achievement is to your advantage. Let’s look at an example that illustrates this point.
When I asked a client, who works as a QA Analyst and Regression tester, for more information about a particular item on his resume, I received the following explanation:
“I analyzed developers’ source code check-ins in any given mod(s) in order to explain and pair them to the appropriate bugs/regressions in functional tests that they produced. Basically what I’m saying is I would compile a list of regressions for a given mod (regression test operator) but then I would look at all source code changes that were in that mod and assign each regression or group a certain bug whose owner is the owner of the code change(s).”
A techie is going to pick up on the meaning and understand the achievement — that is, if they bother to read through this lengthy explanation. The non-technical HR manager won’t bother to read it because it’s not engaging and it doesn’t speak to them. We can accomplish our goal of appealing to both readers by clearly defining the direct business value up-front.
- Skilled at going beyond obvious testing methods to include QA best practices.
This is clear, concise, and a completely accurate statement. This type of language will resonate well with both parties. Following it with a more technical description means that you’ve done an excellent job of marketing yourself. See how I’ve combined the business and technical value to create a powerful story:
- Skilled at going beyond obvious testing methods to include QA best practices. Conducted impact analysis of changes made to code modules to determine needs, ensuring complete test coverage. Make certain that old bugs are permanently removed and track responsibility for each regression.
This is the story that you want to tell about your achievements. HR and IT hiring managers need to understand the skills, talents, experience, etc., that best illustrate your most positive qualities. Leave the wordy technical explanations for the interview with the IT hiring manager. They’ll understand and appreciate all the technical work you’ve done.