Technical Resumes: Five Steps to a Better Resume
Many technical resumes suffer because engineers, developers, researchers, and other technical job applicants have trouble communicating what they do. Many of them are more at home drawing a diagram than writing; and many are used to communicating with their peers at a level where a hiring manager or recruiter is simply lost. Still, the hiring managers and recruiters are the ones who will ultimately examine a resume and decide whether a candidate should move forward to an interview. Here are five steps you can take to help ensure you are one of those candidates:

1.Make sure you understand the type and level of technical knowledge the company is interested in hearing about. The company’s website is an excellent resource for clear, concise, and accurate descriptions of the company’s technology. The job posting will have been written to clearly describe the specific holes the company wants to fill in its technical knowledge and technical staff. Armed with those descriptions, you should write your resume with the same level of clarity.

2.Go beyond listing your areas of technical expertise; explain how your knowledge helped the company you are working at now. By placing your technical skills in context, you are helping hiring managers and recruiters understand what you do and its potential value to the company. Or to put it another way, any programmer can learn C++ eventually; what you did with C++ is your unique achievement.

3.Define your terms. Many technical acronyms have slid into the common language, such as SaaS, but others are still obscure. This is probably true of any terms created by your current company or division. Some common acronyms such as CBM have multiple meanings (coal bed methane; condition-based maintenance, etc.) depending on the industry. Make sure you define terms that can be misunderstood.

4.Use standard grammar. Follow this rule: If a sentence does not make grammatical sense, it cannot make technical sense. Do not try to justify poor grammar (or spelling) because you are relaying complex technical information.

5.Hand your resume to a technical peer and ask if he or she understands your resume and would hire you. It is easy to assume that your technical peers will understand everything you write. If your resume fails that basic test, then you definitely need to rewrite.

As a graduate of MIT and a long-time practicing chemical and production engineer, I know the challenges faced by candidates for technical positions. If you need help with your resume, contact me today.