Writing a tech resume that will get you calls

Little background: I conduct screening interviews for tech roles as a part of a recruiting agency. Through these interviews, I decide whether or not to move the candidate to the next phase. This can be very easy but also quite difficult sometimes—depending on the standard deviation of their relevant skills, communication skills, and whether or not I think they would be a good cultural fit for the company. Most of what a recruiter needs to know is from the resume, but does the resume tell the whole story?

Your resume isn't as important as you may think it is

What is more important is your online persona that you have linked in your resume. Your GitHub, your LinkedIn, your portfolio, your Twitter, your blog, tell more about you than your resume does. Anyone can put things on a resume that do not reflect what they do and who they are, but your online persona is a more honest reflection of you. It tells us about your code quality, the naming conventions you use, the commit messages you write, and also what you are passionate about and if you would be a good cultural fit.

Use numbers

You will probably see this in every resume guide, but this is a very important thing to not talk about. When you describe your experience at your current/previous companies, don't just say "migrated all applications from a managed hosting service to a custom AWS ecosystem". Also mention how it helped the company. Or their clients. Because this definitely sounds a lot more impressive: "helped reduce server costs by 65% by migrating all applications from a managed hosting service to a custom AWS ecosystem".

If you do not have numbers to share, that's okay too. Talk about the problem you solved and make them relatable to actual business issues. Now I know, sometimes we do not have many impressive feats, projects, or contributions to list, but whatever you have done, fluff it up. Make it sound more important than it is.

Remove the "objective" section and other redundant info

More often than not, nobody really reads the "objective" part. Resume real estate is extremely important so ensure that you're making very good use of every inch. The space taken up by an "objective" or "summary" section can rather be used to list something else, like your interests—which adds a personal touch to your resume (more on this below).

Other redundant information include your photo (unless asked for, which is very unlikely in 2021), your parents' name, full address ([city], [country] is enough), your high school results, and skill bars. I hate skill bars. All of these things are nothing but distractions—recruiters will want to see the experience you have and the projects you have worked on.

Do something other than the weather app

I have seen the weather app and some sort of a "management system" on way to many resumes. While the weather app teaches you how to use an external API and the management system CRUD functions and both of which are extremely important things to learn as a beginner, these two types of projects are way too common. If you want to stand out, build something that makes you stand out. Make a Twitter scraper, an HTML game, a Chome extension, a Kanban board, an app that uses some sort of integration (Slack for example). Also, include live links. Its easier to get an idea about your project from looking at live links than at the GitHub repo.

Structure your resume correctly

This can vary from person to person, but usually, if you are a fresh grad (bachelor/master) or have a pretty solid GPA, your education should go on top followed by technical skills, projects, and any sort of internship and/or work experience. This is because, our eyes will first look for your experience section if it's not an entry-level job, so putting your education (if it's exceptional) at the top automatically makes us look at it.

Also, add your contact info at the very top.

List your interests

This will be personal preference for someone writing their resume but it's not something any recruiter will not like. If you have some extra space after trimming off all unnecessary information, you can list your interests. Maybe you watched all episodes of The Sopranos or Breaking Bad or maybe you are a scuba diver or like to play football, add it to your resume! It helps the recruiter connect to you on a personal level.

Final thoughts

Your resume is the first thing a recruiter sees about you, so spend a good amount of time to polish it. While you're at it, make sure to also build a likable and relatable online persona. If you have your Twitter handle added on your resume and the recruiter sees that all you post about are how you're not about that 9-to-5 life, or post homophobic or misogynist comments (speaking from personal experience), you're probably not gonna get a call back. In 2021, cultural fit is more important than ever so your recruiter will also look at your personality besides your technical skills.

If you're looking for a resume template, the one I have on my homepage could be a good start.