The computer world is a unique field that requires a special type of resume. This is especially true for programmers. Since the average programmer stays only 18 months with an organization, managers usually look for someone who can step right in and do the job, based on past experience with the same hardware, language, and operating system. This is a source of great frustration for new and veteran programmers who can quickly master any new technology and only require an opportunity to prove it.
For programmers, IT specialists, and technical project managers, it is generally best to list all languages you know, as well as all hardware, operating systems, and applications you’ve been exposed to. Listing outdated or obsolete languages, systems, or tools can be valuable, since there are still legacy systems around and few who know how to troubleshoot them. On the resume, it is sufficient to only enter the skill…not the skill level. That will take place at the interview. Some technical job announcements will request you rate yourself on each skill. This practice is often problematic as the “expert” in one company might not be qualified to carry the flash drive of a “knowledgeable” user in another. Of course, prior to applying, it is a good policy to completely review the position to determine if your skill level and knowledge are in the ballpark to begin with.
Another reason to include all of your knowledge and skill is that technical resumes are probably the most electronically scanned of all. Even though the job announcement or ad mentions a handful of critical skills, having a wider breadth of experience provides critical value added benefits.
The technical resume can be fairly simple to write because it consists of several distinct sections that practically write themselves. Start with Areas of Experience. Typically, it will consist of Languages, Systems, Special Programs, Computers, Conversions, and Applications. Applications can be further divided into New Applications and Maintenance. It should be easy, almost like filling in the blanks.
Because programming and other computer jobs are so project-oriented, it is often better to place more emphasis on projects than on job narratives. A Special Projects section can work great (search for Special Projects). If you will be using projects to define your skills, write a brief job narrative that presents the generic tasks and activities you perform in each. Then introduce the projects.
Since employers usually use resumes as a basis for interviews, be sure to choose projects that are most representative of your skill range and can be expanded at the interview. Create job sketches for each project. Edit as you go, cleaning out unnecessary words and descriptions. When you are done, what should remain is a description of the mission, your role, any obstacles you overcame, and the results.