At some stage in your IT career, you’ll need to write a resume. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’re looking for a new job after some time in the industry, getting to know what the best format of a resume is will help your resume stand out and get you the job interview that you want.
What Does The Resume Format Mean?
The format of the resume refers to how the different sections on a resume are set out. When you create a resume, it should include different sections for all of the information you want to include. This is so that the reader (whether they are the recruiter, HR, or a technical team member in the company) knows who you are and can make a decision on whether you’re a good fit for the job.
IT resumes are slightly different to resumes from other industries for a few reasons. We have a lot of certifications. It’s not the kind of industry where we can just finish uni and stop studying. To progress in our career, we need to keep studying and get certifications in different areas. This means that there is often a Certification section on the resume that contains details of this.
There are also a lot of different areas within IT. Because I only really focus on software-related roles on this site, I can only highlight those kinds of roles (development, testing, business analysis, project management, architecture, design, etc). This still means there are a lot of different paths and methods to get where you want in your career.
So, What’s The Best Format For A Resume?
- Name and contact details
- Objective or summary (depending on your experience)
- Education (if you are just out of college) or Experience (if you have some experience)
- Education or Experience (whichever one wasn’t added above)
- Certifications (if you have a few of them)
- Other Interests (if relevant)
Let’s go into this in more detail.
Name and Contact Details at the Top of a Resume
When thinking about the format of a resume, the name should go first. Your name and contact details should go at the top of a resume. Your name should stand out, so the reader knows exactly who’s resume they are reading. Also, don’t use a nickname on your resume. Full name is usually better.
Near your name goes your contact details. This should include your email address (which should be a professional looking one), phone number, and maybe a suburb or city. Don’t put your address down, as it’s not really needed at this stage. Also, make sure you don’t put your work phone number or email address down. It’s not good to have job interview emails and requests come through while at work.
Objective or Summary Comes Next
Adding an Objective or Summary statement to your resume has caused divided opinions in the industry. Some people say you don’t need to have one, as it’s a waste of space and isn’t really relevant. Others say it’s good to have a short description of yourself for readers to see.
Personally, I think it’s good to have, as long as it’s short and well-written.
The difference between the two is an Objective statement is usually used by junior employees or graduates, and it’s more of a statement that says “here is what I want to achieve with my career or job”. A Summary statement, on the other hand, is used by more experienced IT professionals and is a description of what roles and experience they have, kind of like a “here is what I have done and can do”. Which one you use comes down to your level of experience, but they should go in the same spot.
This is good to add just under your name and contact details, so it’s easy for the reader to see.
Education or Experience Is Next
Basically, at this stage you should put either your Education or Experience section. But which one goes first?
Education summarises all of your education, such as high school and college or university. It includes your degrees and majors. Experience, on the other hand, is a history of your roles and achievements at different companies.
In short, if you have more than a few years of experience, put the Experience section first. If you don’t, put the Education section first.
Both areas should contain the information in reverse chronological order, which means that the most recent item is at the top, and then it works backwards from there.
Then, you add the section which you didn’t add first. So, if you added Education first, then Experience comes next.
Where Do Certifications Go On A Resume?
As the IT industry has a lot of certifications, there’s a good chance that we end up getting quite a few certifications in our time. But for the format of a resume, where do we put them?
This depends on how many you have. If you have a few of them, they can go in their own Certification section. If you don’t, then they can go into the Education section.
What does this mean for your resume? It can get a bit confusing when trying to organise the Education, Certification and Experience sections on a resume.
Here’s what I think:
- If you have a few years’ experience and a few certifications: Experience, Education, then Certifications
- If you have a few years’ experience and not many certifications: Experience, Education (includes Certifications)
- If you have less than a few years’ experience and a few certifications: Education, Certifications, then Experience
- If you have less than a few years’ experience and not many certifications: Education then Experience
Next Comes the Skills Section
Another important section on the resume for IT professionals is the Skills section.
This should always go after experience and education, and even certifications, as it’s not as important as those sections.
The skills section highlights your capabilities with different technologies, software and other areas of the IT industry. This can be written based on your experience, education from university or college, or even your certifications. It highlights what you’re good at, and ideally, it would match your experience.
Finally, the Other Interests Section
At the bottom of your resume, you can add the Other Interests section. This should be added only if you have space. Also, it should only contain relevant interests and awards. Things that demonstrate abilities that can help you get the job, such as communication, project management, teamwork. These kinds of skills and interests can demonstrate qualities that job seekers like.
So there’s a summary of what I’ve found is the best format of a resume. Name, contact details, objective/summary, education/experience, certifications, other interests.