A lot of jobs outside of the technology sector are expected to shrink in the aftermath of the COVID-19 shutdown, and some in the tech field—and outside too—are updating their resumes and getting ready to start a job hunt, either because of layoffs or because they want to be part of the boom in tech jobs some are anticipating. So, here are our top three tips for those aiming to start a career in the web or software development field in what is likely going to be a more crowded marketplace.
Tip 1: Use keywords
Ensure your resume has optimized keywords. Many companies will get a stack of hundreds of resumes to sift through after posting a position, and most will be from unqualified people. So they’ll thin the crowd with software that trashes any resume that doesn’t use the keywords they’re looking for, said to Matthew Warzel, a Certified Professional Resume Writer and President of MJW Careers, a recruitment and career coaching firm based in Wilmington, North Carolina.
So, if the ad says they want someone with experience using WordPress, but you don’t have the word “WordPress” in your resume, it doesn’t matter that you can code the LAMP stack and are proficient in all the most common Content Management Systems.
You didn’t have “WordPress” in there, so you’re going straight to the trash.
“The key to stand out among the competition is to ensure you set the tone in the first top half of the resume with what you want and what you offer, any key buzzwords that speak to your abilities to transition into those new roles seamlessly, and any transferable skills and accomplishments that directly relate to this new role,” Warzel said.
Tip 2: Include quantifiable content
Be sure to make your accomplishments quantifiable, even if you don’t have the numbers to prove it, Warzel said. In other words, don’t write subjective claims. Say, web traffic increased during your time as content manager, not, “people liked the website much more,” during your employment.
“Think quantifiable content and write it pragmatically. Also, stick to brevity while making those bottom-line accomplishments shine,” Warzel said. “As long as you aren’t crinkling the readers’ foreheads when they’re reviewing your resume, you’ve done your job.”
Tip 3: Emphasize results, not duties
Emphasize your accomplishments, not the things that your bosses told you to do, Warzel said.
“Make sure to not write your experience as task-based, but rather quantifiable and bottom-line driven,” he said. “This will make sure you are letting the employers know that you are concerned with what they are concerned with—either making them money or saving them money.”
In other words, instead of saying that you were an SEO specialist in charge of monitoring web traffic and site performance, think back to some compliments your boss may have given you. If he or she said you well driving traffic to a landing page, write, “Increased traffic to new landing page,” instead of, “Tasked with promoting new landing page.”
What if you’re not in tech already
This advice is great for those already in tech, but what about the rest of us? “My best advice is to identify their relevance in terms of value to a prospective employer, internalize on what their passions are and some transferable skills and accomplishments to relay to hiring managers, a solid resume and some email communication templates (or cover letter) and have a lot of patience and willpower,” Warzel said. “A good rule of thumb for any job hunter seeking a new role in a new industry is to identify your transferable skills and portray those first on your LinkedIn profile and resume. (Emphasis) your ability to transfer seamlessly into the new role based off your previous experience and education.”
“Try to keep it relevant though without too much fluff,hiring manager and recruiters are sharp and can see through a lot of the fluff,” he said.
Make sure to accentuate transferable skills—skills that relate in some way to the new job. “Think of these skills in terms of what you are currently doing at your job that can relate to what you would be doing in the new role,” Warzel said.
For example, you’re applying for a front-end developer job and have some graphic design skill. Though the ad doesn’t mention it needs someone with experience working with Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, your potential employer may see that and think, “Well, that might save time if we don’t have to send a photo to the graphic design team every time we need an image resized.” It could help, so if it’s even remotely related, include it.
But beware of the gray area: If a skill is not transferable at all, it can weigh down your resume and distract from your more relevant skills, Warzel said. “They could potentially bog down the reader’s flow when reviewing your resume.”
Also, employers like applicants who are always taking advantage of educational opportunities, Warzel said. So, never stop learning, and promote your certificates and certifications, especially if they’re relevant. If you don’t have much applicable work experience, promote your educational achievements more prominently.
“Seek out academic programs that can help train and prepare you for your new role. Find some new career job openings and the minimal qualifications in each, identify the possible credentials you may need to better position yourself in this new role, and find institutions that you can acquire these credentials, (enroll in their programs) and list them onto your resume,” Warzel said.