How to write a resume: 8 tips for candidates applying for their next tech role

By: Jennifer Schneider, Director, Hays Early Careers and Harry Gooding, Director, Hays National Technology - UK&I

If you’re applying for your next role in the world of tech, it can be difficult to know how to write a resume that highlights what you bring to the table.

With the digital skills gap we’re seeing that more companies are taking on a range of applicants, even those we are newer to the sector. Here are some key resume-writing tips to help you prove that you’re the right candidate for a role in tech.

1) Take time to consider your resume layout

Your resume needs to quickly grab the reader’s attention as they may have received tens, if not hundreds, of applications for one role! That’s why it’s so important to make your resume easy to digest, with the key skills that the employer is seeking clearly outlined. Divide your resume into clearly defined sections and explore the idea of using boxes/columns to separate them. You don’t want the page to look too “busy”, with the text squashed together or too small to conceivably read.

2) Tailor your resume to suit the role – especially in tech

Not all roles in tech are the same or require the same capabilities. It may sound obvious, but always tailor your resume to the exact role you’re applying for. Recruiters and hiring managers may not progress your application if they feel it is too generic, or it’s written for another company. Understand what skills (especially technical) they’re looking for and incorporate this into your resume.

3) Include a short profile at the start of your resume

There may be a number of candidates with the same technical skills as you, and there might be some who also have more experience. But by including a profile, you can demonstrate why you are different and give an insight into who you are and why you’ll offer something else.

4) Put together a cover letter

It can make a massive difference if you take the time to craft a cover letter specific to the role and company. Not only will it demonstrate that you’re willing to make an effort, but it will allow you to go into more detail on the achievements and skills that matter most. Furthermore, just because the role is in tech, that doesn’t mean that technical skills are the only ones that matter. A well-written cover letter can also highlight your soft skills, such as communication, which can compensate if you are lacking experience.

5) Mention extracurricular activities

Personality goes a long way. Do you have any hobbies around tech? Areas of special interest? Don’t be afraid to highlight these, especially if they are relevant for the role. For example, if you have been part of a coding club, or you have designed an app as a side hustle, then say it! These details are memorable and can really help you to stand out to the reader. Be sure to include these in your short profile or cover letter.

6) Improve your skills and include them

Some recruiters like to see a section on your resume highlighting your key strengths and personal skills. This can be a great way to tell a company how you will add value “at a glance”. It can be helpful to include some soft skills to complement the technical ones you’ve developed.

If you haven’t got much professional experience in tech, a great way to build your resume is to take part in short courses that offer badges or certifications. There are plenty of free learning platforms with industry-recognized lessons and certifications out there. As with a cover letter, nothing shows willing better than time invested in learning, so it’s worth finding a course that is relevant to the role and completing it.

7) Write the results of your past work

While recruiters/hiring managers do want to understand what work experience you have (even if it hasn’t been in tech), avoid simply writing out your previous job descriptions. Instead, showcase what you personally delivered, what the results were and what you learned.

8) Make sure your resume is clear to the reader

Once you’ve finished writing your resume, ask someone to read it through. Can they easily identify exactly what you were doing on any specific date that is relevant to your profile? For example, what was your role in June 2020? Your resume should be able to tell someone this without them making any extra effort. Everything should be clear to the reader at first glance – if not, change it and simplify.

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