IT resume makeover: Don’t try to please everyone

Writing a resume means knowing your audience. If you try to please everyone, you’ll only wind up with an unfocused and disjointed document filled with unconnected work experience and accomplishments.

IT resume makeover: Don’t try to please everyone

The longer your career stretches out, the more experience and knowledge you gain. But that doesn't mean you need to dump it all onto your resume. Instead, resume experts say, you should focus on crafting a focused and concise resume.

JR Hunt, IT director at Yellowstone Association and the Yellowstone Park Foundation knew his resume needed a stronger focus. "My CV suffered from a case of 'catch-all-itis' whereby the depth and breadth of experience seems to target nobody and everybody," he says. For Cheryl Lynch Simpson, career, job search and LinkedIn coach and Master Resume Writer, the focus of this resume makeover was to bring a cohesive focus to Hunt's resume that truly demonstrated his wealth of knowledge and experience.

[ Download original Senior IT Executive resume ]

Know your audience

Hunt knew that his resume was trying to do too much at one time -- rather than demonstrate in a direct manner how his years of IT experience would translate to a C-suite position. But in crafting his resume, Hunt had to consider who his target audience was before he could create a narrative that showed the connection between his IT roles and consulting roles.

A major part of your audience includes recruiters, Simpson offered firsthand knowledge on what recruiters want to see on a resume -- and what they don't. On Hunt's resume, she identified what she calls, "a deadly mistake." He had grouped all of his accomplishments in one area, rather than leaving them with the job they were associated with. Simpson knew this was another major pain point she'd have to address, moving the accomplishments so they would be associated with each job listed on the resume.

During their initial conversation, Simpson tried to gain an understanding of Hunt's background and overall career goals to connect the dots. She had to know how he intended to use his new resume before she could go about properly restructuring the document. At the end of the call, she gave Hunt some homework: Sit down and think of stories from his old jobs that reflected challenges, actions and results to help create his career story and brand.

Create a brand

If you don't have a personal brand, you're behind the times. As people gain more exposure through the internet and social media, it's become increasingly important to meticulously craft your professional image -- and it all starts with your resume.

Simpson said that Hunt's resume actually did a decent job at presenting a brand compared to others, but noted that his scattered experience didn't create a unified story around his qualifications as an IT executive.

"His resume had too few achievements paired with a tactical focus. The biggest problem, though, was the structure of his work experience. By profiling each of his consulting roles individually his resume made him look like a job hopper who doesn't know what he wants to do…," says Simpson.

She decided to move some of them around, grouping similar work experience together to make his past look less spotty. Even though he had been working full time, contracting positions can sometimes confuse recruiters or send the wrong message, she says.

[ Related story: IT Resume Makeover: How to show employers the real you ]

Making connections

After speaking with Hunt, Simpson quickly realized that -- while his resume didn't reflect it -- much of his past experience directly correlated to his current IT role and aspirations. The challenge was connecting those dots so that any hiring manager or recruiter would understand just how well-rounded his experience was. She knew it was time to tackle his "accomplishments" section and move them into more strategic areas on the resume.

"I infused more branding in JR's document by providing readers with a big picture perspective of his career along with an introduction to his leadership and communication style," says Simpson.

She chose some of his best achievements in the summary. By moving these accolades higher on the resume, and giving them a prime spot, she was able to demonstrate just how qualified Hunt is for C-suite roles.

Elevating a career brand

[ Download Senior IT Executive Resume Sample ]

In the end, Hunt says he walked away with a resume that better portrays his career experience and future goals. What surprised him most about the experience was that it was less about addressing "writing techniques," and more about "strategic discussions about the approaches and methodologies used in recruiting and selling your own brand."

And Simpson thinks Hunt will successfully move forward in his career, armed with a resume that sends a clear and concise message about his work experience.

"Overall his new resume elevates his career brand, unifies his employment/entrepreneurial experience, and places his achievements front and center without divorcing them from their respective job titles. This document slightly revamped his consulting experience to overcome objections recruiters might have to his history of moving back and forth between full-time and consulting roles," she says.

Related Video

This story, "IT resume makeover: Don’t try to please everyone" was originally published by CIO.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.