No matter where you’re at in your career, one of the most important tools you can use to land technical interviews and get hired is your technical resume. But with all the conflicting advice on how to format a tech resume and what technical skills to put on a resume, it can be a real challenge to find the best advice.
That’s why Career Karma has compiled this ultimate guide to technical resumes. Here, you’ll find all the information and tips you need to create a tech resume that will help you break into one of the best tech jobs. We’ll share tips on the best technical skills for resumes, what not to include on your resume, and how to use numbers to describe your experience.
Writing the Perfect Technical Resume
The perfect technical resume highlights your technical skills and catches the interest of a hiring manager at a tech company. The key to good technical resume writing is knowing what to include and what to leave off. In the next section, we’ll cover the building blocks you need to write a good technical resume.
What to Include in Your Technical Skills List
There are four major categories of technical skills for a resume: programming skills, hard skills, soft skills, and special skills. Listing technical skills on your resume in these categories helps the hiring manager make sense of your skillset and get a better picture of you as a well-rounded candidate.
Coding is a technical skill that looks great on any tech resume. A background in programming languages is an asset in many job roles, not just for software developers. A lot of large companies use applications designed specifically for that company, and learning to code shows that you’ll be able to troubleshoot buggy applications better than the average employee.
If you are applying for web development or software engineering jobs where programming is an essential skill, list all programming languages you are comfortable working in. You should also link to projects in your coding portfolio to show the kinds of products you can deliver in each language.
To figure out what hard skills are relevant for your technical resume beyond coding, look at some job postings for roles you are interested in. Review your list, and see what skills you are missing. You don’t need to have every skill that hiring managers are looking for, but the more information technology skills you have the better. You can always learn more IT skills to boost your resume.
Data analysis is an important hard skill for your technical resume that you can develop on your own. There are all sorts of free education options where you can learn data analysis, data visualization, and data mining. Big Data is another great skill to list on your resume. These days big data is vital to helping companies decide what direction to move in next.
If you’ve taken any technical courses or other kinds of educational programs related to the job you’re applying for, list those skills on your tech resume. Listing these kinds of programs not only shows that you have additional skills, it also shows that you take your career seriously and are committed to learning new techniques.
Tech experience isn’t the only thing hiring managers are looking for in your technical resume. Soft skills like leadership, communication, project management, and conflict resolution are extremely important to building a high-functioning team. Most employers, regardless of the industry, are seeking workers who possess these crucial soft skills.
To list your soft skills, give an example of a problem you solved or a project you managed. Include quantitative details such as the number of people you led, the amount of time you saved on a project, or scores on performance reviews. Include any soft skills workshops or classes you attended, especially if you earned a certification or certificate.
Social media skills are valuable communication skills for your technical resume. A good social media presence is essential, and not all organizations have a dedicated social media communications specialist. If you can show that you are comfortable representing a company on social media, you’ll stand out to hiring managers who are looking for someone who can fill multiple roles.
You should also include some skills or abilities that don’t necessarily fit within the technical skills category. For instance, maybe you have a passion for design or are a certified white water rafting guide. These are great ways to set yourself apart from other applicants who probably share many of your technical skills, especially if your special skills show your leadership or passion.
Top Items to Leave Off Your Technical Resume
Almost as important as the things you should include on your technical resume are the following items that you should never include. Avoid these common technical resume pitfalls to ensure your prospective employer gets the right idea of what you can offer the company.
Inappropriate Contact Info
Your resume is your only chance to make a good impression on the hiring manager. Your resume will get an initial 15-second scan by the hiring staff if you’re lucky. You don’t want them to spend that precious time wondering about a piece of unprofessional contact information.
Don’t include an address, phone number, or email from a current employer as your contact info, unless you are both a student and an employee of a college or university. Use an inconspicuous email address like email@example.com.
Irrelevant Work Experience
When you apply for tech jobs, you need to load up your resume with relevant work experience that applies directly to the role. Prospective employers don’t have time to wade through unnecessary details in your job history. You need to make it easy for them to see the ways your experience matches the job description. Customize your resume with the relevant work history for each new job you apply to.
That said, don’t be afraid to include unrelated work experience if you feel it demonstrates a quality that applies to the role. Make sure it is clear in the first sentence or bullet point describing the experience why the hiring manager should know about it.
You should never include incorrect information on your resume. All the skills, work experience, and education you list need to be true. If the hiring manager finds that you are misrepresenting yourself, they will likely disqualify you from the current job opening and any future job openings at that company.
Top Tips for Your Technical Resume
Now you know what skills to put on your technical resume, here’s some advice on how to create the perfect resume for any job in tech. You should go through this process for each job you apply to and tailor your tech resume to reflect the specific position you’re applying to, as well as the company.
Lead With Your Expertise
The best way to write a technical resume is to showcase your expertise. Focus on work experience and education that shows your mastery of a topic or skill. Write about the kinds of projects you completed and led, and link to examples from a professional portfolio when possible.
Write a Personal Summary
In two to three sentences, summarize your career up to this point and state your job goals. This is particularly important if you are changing careers or have a gap in your resume. A personal summary is your chance to give the hiring manager a framework for understanding your tech resume. Here’s an example personal summary for a person switching to a tech career from teaching:
“After 12 years of teaching high school math, I decided it was time to enroll in coding bootcamp and work towards my goal of becoming a full stack developer. I look forward to bringing my new coding skills and prior knowledge of how to design curriculum to LearningApp’s web development team.”
Use Strong, Action-Oriented Words
If you’ve just finished a coding bootcamp, most of the items on your resume are going to be related to websites or apps you developed in the program. Maybe you have some internship experience too. No matter where you got your experience, use strong action words on your tech resume to describe your projects and accomplishments.
Here are some examples of strong resume sentence-starters using action verbs:
- Led a team of…
- Spearheaded design and development for…
- Accomplished project goal of…
- Established a new system by…
Quantify Your Impact
Make sure your statements are impact-oriented on your technical resume. Focus on what you achieved and how you did it. These statements should look something like, “Spearheaded X by implementing Y, which led to Z.” For example, “Spearheaded a Waze-like app for Pokemon Go players by implementing Ruby on Rails, which led to 40 percent time saved on finding Pokemon.”
To brainstorm the information you need to write an impact-oriented state, try answering these questions:
- What was the scale?
- How many devices did I serve?
- How many scenarios/permutations/tests did I consider/handle?
- How many different methodologies did I implement?
- What results did I achieve?
- How many users did I launch to or will I launch to?
- How many users/groups used it?
Highlight Your Technical Skills
Prospective employers might look at your tech resume for less than one minute, or they might run it through an Automated Tracking System (ATS) to look for keyword matches. You need to do everything you can to make sure your resume and the language you use matches the job description exactly so that your technical skills stand out.
You can also format your tech resume to highlight your technical skills. Create a designated “Technical Skills” section, so that a recruiter glancing at your resume will see it immediately. It’s also a good idea to add a technical summary near the top of your resume. That way, your prospective employers can see each technical ability you possess at a glance.
Add Coding Bootcamp to Your Work Experience
When you graduate from a coding bootcamp and start your job search in earnest, you’ll be competing against programmers with prior work experience. Hiring managers need to know that you can handle actual coding work. If you completed any coding bootcamp projects with real-world data or actual clients, you can include that in your work experience.
You should still list your bootcamp training under your education section too, highlighting your class performance and any areas where you excelled. However, don’t overload your tech resume by including every project. Including too many small projects will dilute your resume and obscure your big accomplishments.
Some General Advice on Resumes
Your tech resume is often the first point of contact between you and a potential employer. It is your best opportunity to show the hiring manager your professionalism and highlight your credentials. These general tips on how to write a technical resume will help you make the most of this opportunity to make a good first impression.
- Update your resume for each job you apply to: Your work isn’t done after you finish the first draft of your technical resume. You need to adjust your resume for each prospective job. Look at the job description for keywords, important skills, and required competencies. Adjust your resume to highlight what you find in the job description.
- Stay professional: While some careers might require a bit of flair on your resume to stand out, most resumes benefit from looking professional. Use engaging language and action words to make your resume interesting, but avoid things like too much color and wacky fonts.
- Don’t be bound to templates: Tech resume templates are a great way to get started when crafting a resume, but you need to be thoughtful about how you use them. Just because the resume template you’ve chosen includes a certain section doesn’t mean you have to include it in your resume. Only keep sections that are relevant to you, your skills, and your experiences.
- Never lie: You should speak proudly about your achievements on your resume, but never exaggerate or lie. Your prospective employer will find out if your resume is dishonest.
- Proofread: This should go without saying, but you must thoroughly proofread your resume at least twice before you start sending it out. Ask multiple people to look for errors you might be missing. This will show prospective employers that you’re professional, meticulous, and taking the application seriously.
- Consider Different Layouts: Many people limit their creativity when crafting a technical resume by presenting their education, and work history in chronological order. You can also try a functional format, where you present the skills and experience you want to highlight at the top.
- Try to Stick to One to Two Pages: This can be tough if you have a lot of experience or a long work history, but hiring managers really don’t want to read more than a page or two. With some creative editing and formatting, you can fit a lot of information on a single page, and your prospective employers will appreciate the effort.
- Highlight Any Transferable Skills: If you’re changing careers, there are always opportunities to show transferable skills you’ve acquired in unrelated positions. If you’re applying for a tech job but only have administrative experience, you can highlight your ability to work well in a team or to manage time wisely.
Free Technical Resume Templates and Examples
While there are many tech resume templates out there, free technical resume templates range from overcomplicated to dull and forgettable. When looking for a good technical resume template, consider a few options before picking one. Look for a template that emphasizes technical skills.
The bottom line is that your resume is supposed to reflect your skills and what you can offer to your prospective employer. Look at technical resume examples and imagine what it would be like to read them as a hiring manager. Pick the tech resume template that most clearly showcases technical skills.
Top Free Technical Resume Templates
Here are our top picks for the most attractive, effective, and memorable technical resume templates that you can get for free. All of these templates are clean and simple and designed to draw your eye to technical skills.
Once you’ve picked your favorite, go back through this article and use these tips to make the content work for you. A high-quality resume design is very important for catching the eye of a hiring manager, but the content also needs to stand out to the ATS program picking the top resumes to send to the hiring manager.
Cultivated Culture offers a set of free resume templates that are perfect for tech workers in the job market. They provide a level of professionalism and class, while still allowing for a dash of color and style to let your personality shine through. This particular template gives you enough space for text to describe your skills and experience.
If you want to get noticed, you need to expand your template options beyond the usual Microsoft Word selections. Rijo Abraham’s free resume template is memorable without being too wild. You can modify or eliminate the top banner, and the education, job history, and skills sections are well-designed.
This spare, eye-catching free resume template from Zohn Habib is a great way to focus on relevant education and skills. This template is a good choice for a recent grad or an early career job seeker because it highlights training over work experience. It also gives you two sections for skills which you can categorize as technical skills and other skills.
A Final Word on the Technical Resume
Now that you know useful technical resume tips like what to include and what to avoid, you’re ready to start crafting your own tech resume. The most important things to remember are to highlight your skills and experience, use powerful language, and always be honest. If you follow these guidelines, you’re sure to land that technical interview you’ve been striving for.
Technical Resume FAQs
There isn’t a perfect formula for how to write a resume that gets you hired in tech. A technical resume is a good format for showcasing technical skills that are most relevant to tech jobs. However, sending out resumes to hiring managers you don’t know is less likely to get you hired no matter how good your resume is. You should also spend time growing your professional network.
Where should technical skills be listed on a resume?
Technical skills should be listed near the top of a technical resume, after your contact information and personal summary but before your work experience. This is especially important for people who have tech skills that they haven’t used in past jobs, such as recent bootcamp grads.
How long should a technical resume be?
A technical resume should be one to two pages long. Keep your tech resume to one page long if you are a recent grad or have little work experience. It can be hard to balance keeping things brief while still showing off your tech skills. Remember you can always elaborate on an experience in your cover letter.
How Do You Add a Coding Bootcamp to Your Technical Resume?
If you are a coding bootcamp grad, you will definitely put your bootcamp experience under education and all the tech skills you learned will go under the technical skills section. If you completed any real-world projects or internships, you can list that under work experience. You should provide a link to your bootcamp portfolio near the top of the resume.
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