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5 Steps to Optimize Your Tech Resume

You’ve researched the industry, laid the foundation, and defined your “why,” and now you’re ready to fully kick off your job search. Your resume is a great place to start. It is the deciding factor that determines whether or not you will get an interview.

5 Steps to Optimize Your Tech Resume

Kicking off your job search on the right foot

So you’ve researched the industry, laid the foundation, and defined your “why,” and now you’re ready to fully kick off your job search. Your resume is a great place to start.

Your resume is the deciding factor that determines whether or not you will get an interview.

In today’s competitive job market, it’s difficult to get an interview, let alone a job. You must stand out from the get-go.

It’s highly dependent on the industry, but most companies are receiving 500+ applications for all of their posted jobs. In most cases, it’s nearly impossible to fully vet each application. Companies are relying on resume screening tools to narrow down the applicant pool.

In order to get through the process you must not only have the hard skills but be able to display them in a keyword-optimized manner.

I sat down with Climate People’s founder, Brendan Andersen, to lay out his top 5 tips for optimizing your resume:

1. Do away with the fluff

There is no reason that your resume needs to be more than one page. You should be able to convey your professional experience clearly and concisely. Cut the fluff and ensure that every word counts towards your overall objective.

You should use bullet points, rather than paragraphs, to outline your experiences.

If you’re an academic with relevant publications, it’s acceptable to go over the one-page limit. For those not in academia, if it’s absolutely critical to go over one page, keep it at two max.

Cutting the fluff serves for the images as well. If you’re applying for a technical role, you should not have fancy colors, graphics, or images on your resume. Rather, you should reserve this space for measurable achievements and ATS-relevant keywords!

Pro tip - make sure you export your resume as a PDF, this will make it easier for the hiring managers and the applicant tracking systems!

2. Demonstrate career progression

If you’re highly experienced, it can be difficult to display all of your various roles on one page. It’s not critical to include every different touch point and it’s better to prioritize resume length. You can omit some of the less-relevant jobs and focus on your overall career progression.

For example, if you’re an experienced Software Developer with 10+ years of experience looking for a software role, but spent a year or two in a non-technical role, it’s perfectly okay to remove that position. If the omitted roles add value to your application, ensure that you are discussing their value-add in later steps of the application process. Your resume should not encompass all of your strengths, only the most important ones that will catch the hiring manager’s eye.

3. Do keyword research

Your resume will be filtered through a resume scanner before it even has a chance for a human to review it. You must optimize your resume to ensure that it has all of the relevant keywords to get through the company’s ATS screens.

According to ResumeterPro, 72% of resumes aren’t viewed by a real human.

Use the job description as your cheat sheet here. The hiring manager is outlining all of the skillsets that they want in their ideal candidate, and scatter those throughout your resume. Brendan recommends scouring through 50+ jobs that are similar to the one you’re applying to and flagging the recurring keywords. A tool like WordClouds can help determine which words are most relevant. Simply copy and paste all of the job descriptions into your word cloud, the words that appear the most should be at the forefront of your resume. You can stuff these keywords in your experiences, in your objective, and on your tech stack.

Make sure you are including the keywords without blatantly copying the job description, ATS screens work in reverse as well and will flag your application if it’s too similar to the posting.

4. Use quantifiable impact statements

Don’t just tell the hiring manager that you did something, show them! All of your experiences should show your direct value add to the company. It’s critical to quantify your impact. By focusing on the outcome, you’re showing that you are results-oriented and can drive meaningful change at the company.

If you’re applying for a developer role, rather than saying “I increased efficiency through my code” say “my efficient code streamlined the interface and increased process efficiency by 75%.”

5. Modify your resume

Your resume should not be a one-size-fits-all model. You must update your resume to stand a chance against the ATS screens. It’s ideal to update your resume for every job that you apply to — incorporating all the relevant keywords from step three.

We understand that this is an extremely time extensive process, so if this isn’t feasible for you, you should at least have a resume for each different job category that you’re applying to. For example, if you’re a Back-End-leaning engineer who is applying for Back End and Full Stack roles, you would need to have two separate resumes.

Quality will always outperform quantity when it comes to resumes and applications. That being said, if you’re applying for your first job out of college, you will likely be submitting significantly more applications than someone with 15 years of experience and may not be able to dedicate the same level of precision to each application. Do what works best for you and your time!

Put the time and effort into your resume(s) up front and we guarantee that it will help you in the long run! Your resume will serve as the face of your entire job search and should be something that you’re proud of. It’s a living document and should be treated that way, ensure that you're keeping your resume up-to-date as your progress along your job search journey.

We know the ATS-dominated resume world can be a bit frustrating for job seekers, but it’s essential to keep your head up and make it work to your advantage!

As always, good luck! We are here to help you optimize your resume and land your dream job!

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