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Tech Résumés


Forget everything you learned in school or have been told about how to write a résumé.

Tech résumés are different than average résumés. For example, do you remember all that you learned in school or through others about what you should and shouldn’t include in a résumé? Well, you can throw a lot of that out the window when it comes to applying for jobs in WordPress — and in remote tech jobs in general.

But you have to keep some of it.

The one page résumé

Everything is digital now. But back when I first graduated from college (yes, back before the Internet — AKA “the dark ages”), résumés were printed, then dropped off or mailed to prospective employers. And since I only had a dot matrix printer, they had to be professionally printed. So the rule of thumb was no more than one page.

But that is less important now — especially in tech, where hiring managers want to see relevant information about your experiences and your skills. They’re much more interested in your code, marketing, project management, etc. than they are in your ability to play with page margins and font size to “get it all in there.”

I love to see as much as I can, I don’t care if its not one sheet. I don’t care if its in chronological order. Don’t care if they’ve got degrees. I do care about what they write in their job responsibilities and if they’ve done more than just write code, like do automated testing.

Mayank Gupta

So go ahead and show what you know in a regular size font with normal margins, and use more than one page if you need to.

Paragraph of intent

We know that your intent is to get a job doing what you love — and hopefully with our companies. You no longer need to say so at the top of a tech résumé. We’re just going to skip that part where you try to butter us up with how much you want to work at our company. It’s a better use of your time, energy, and page space to show us what you know and why you’d be a valuable asset to our team.

Instead, focus on a summary of your skills. Think of it as a printed “elevator speech” of who you are.

Talk about what makes you the best candidate for the job here; try and make it relevant to the job ad. Link out to blog posts, open source projects, case studies etc., if you’re able to.

Ian Jenkins

Calling yourself an “expert”

You may feel like an expert and even be referred to as one by many people. But using terms like “expert” or “guru” or even “wizard” in tech résumés will make you look less professional when you want to look more professional to those doing the hiring.

Don’t be tempted to say you are an expert in something. “Expert” is a relative term and it means something different to each person.

Dominic White

Non-relevant job experience

You’re applying for a job in tech, so unless that year you spent delivering pizzas is somehow relevant, don’t include it. It really is okay to show some gaps in your résumé. A hiring manager would rather spend time focusing on relevant skills than reading through jobs that were unrelated in any way.

Relevant job experience only.

Jen Swisher

List of references

Again, back in the day of printed résumés, we had to include a list of 3-5 references (past employers, teammates, and even character references). This was because, before the Internet, there wasn’t a convenient way to get that information into the hiring manager’s hands.

Today’s tech has changed all that. While you can still include references on your personal portfolio site, don’t include them on your résumé.

Cover letter (Kinda…)

With tech résumés, it’s less important to include an attached, signed cover letter than it used to be. Most of us include that information in the email we send our résumé along with. (Or in the space provided on an online application.) Make it easier for the receiver to see who you are without having to open multiple attachments.

Caveat — if a potential employer explicitly asks for a cover letter to be attached, then by all means include one.

Your contact information

How to get in touch with you should be very, very clear. Think of it as the equivalent of a landing page’s call-to-action. If you don’t include a phone number, you may not receive a second glance. Although tech companies do a lot through email and other channels, knowing that you can be reached by phone is still important.

Make sure your email address isn’t the one you use at your current job. It’s truly unprofessional to receive job interviews and offers through your current employer’s mail system. This is one of those times that Gmail is good to use, or (even better) you should have a website that is about you, and you should have an email associated with it. (E.g., JaneJones.com and Jane@janejones.com.)

Using your employer’s email is a lot like using their letterhead to apply for a job — which I have received as a hiring manager in the past. It’s taboo. Don’t use employer resources for your job search.

Relevant work experience, organized sensibly

We used to advise that résumés should be organized chronologically, but we don’t all agree on that any longer. Functional résumés make a lot more sense when you’re explaining your technical skills and experience. However, you decide to organize your work history, make sure that it makes sense — that there’s a clear order in how you present your experience.

The functional résumé is used to focus on skills that are specific to the type of position being sought. This format directly emphasizes specific professional capabilities and utilizes experience summaries as its primary means of communicating professional competency. In contrast, the chronological résumé format will briefly highlight these competencies prior to presenting a comprehensive timeline of career growth through reverse chronological listings, with the most recent experience listed first. 

Wikipedia

Differentiation (your personality)

Whether it’s an interesting hobby, a cool layout, or a personalized font, incorporate something in your résumé that helps you stand out from the rest. I have a unique way that I format headers on résumés that have helped a lot of others get noticed. If you’re a graphic artist going for a design position, then you can use creativity in how your résumé looks. If you’re a developer, maybe use a font that looks like the old computer fonts — back in the days of amber-on-black monitors. Whatever you can do to (safely) differentiate yourself from other candidates can go a long way toward getting you noticed.

However, do not include “weird” facts about yourself or other information that would be illegal for a recruiter to ask you — like your age, ethnicity, whether you are married, whether you have children, etc. Including certain information can make it harder for an employer to hire you based on potential discrimination claims.

I have seen the same CV 99% of the time, if you do what everyone else does you are basically at the mercy of where you are in the pile when you are being sorted.

Tim Nash

You’re in the tech world, so include information you might not have in the past. Think about adding links to:

  • Your GitHub, BitBucket, or StackOverflow profiles.
  • Your LinkedIn profile.
  • Your Twitter profile.
  • Any projects you worked on that are public. (Be specific about what your role was.)

Also, add information about any project management you’ve done, marketing campaigns you were instrumental in, or other projects you can include in a portfolio.

Some additional things to keep in mind when sending a résumé:

  • Always have someone proof read it for you. Mistakes can cost you interviews.
  • Tailor you résumé to the job you are applying for. Make sure you include information relevant to that job.
  • Put your best foot forward. Use language that is professional, while still avoiding as many buzzwords as possible.

With a good résumé and a great interview, your next job is just around the corner. Good luck!

Would you like more tips to help you get hired in tech and WordPress? Be sure to check out the Get Hired podcast with Cory Miller and Courtney Robertson!

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