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All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian IT Contractors relating to resumes.

10 Tips for Writing a Job-Winning Developer Resume

Recruiter Reviewing Job Applicant's ResumeWriting the perfect resume is not just time-consuming; it’s challenging. With a market that is bursting with talent, job posters can quickly receive hundreds of applications for the same project. Showcasing your skills in the best way possible is a practice in precision.

While there are different schools of thought on resume writing, web developers should be aware of a few critical factors. The best way to get an edge on the competition is with great style and well-presented information. Let’s take a look at what developers ought to do to craft a job-winning resume.

Formatting

As with any writing, utilizing good structure is important. Recruiters generally scan resumes to maximize their time during job searches. Therefore, using effective formatting can help get your resume to the top of the pile.

Consider organizing the information in your resume in this order:

  • Professional Career Summary
  • Skills
  • Work Experience
  • Projects
  • Software/technology programs
  • Education
  • Certifications

Today’s recruiters tend to prioritize good experience above all else. Your education and certifications still have value, but they don’t need to appear first on your resume.

Personal  information

Traditional resume formats included too much personal information. Clients don’t need to know your weight, height or eye color. While adding some personal data is necessary, it should only be the bare minimum.

Your name, title, email, phone number, and website are all you need to write on your resume. Although some are against it, feel free to include a photo of yourself. Depending on where your client is based, they might even expect to see your headshot in the top corner.

Professional Summary

Chances are if you are searching for a job, you have a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn has made it the norm for job seekers to present themselves with a professional summary. These summaries allow you to quickly highlight your soft and technical skills as a web developer.

In summary, you provide recruiters an overview of your career. Thus, be sure to include how many years you’ve been in the field. Also, write about any tech programs you’ve completed in that time. If you were in charge of training or managing other employees add that, too.

Keywords

Using the right keywords isn’t just for top-notch SEO; it works for your resume, as well. Pay attention to the terminology clients use to describe a project. If you use the same terminology as them, you’ll have a higher chance of being selected.

Plenty of businesses use automated systems to sift through resumes and keywords are vital to their algorithm. Unfortunately, if your word choice doesn’t match with a prospective client’s criteria, your resume may be wholly passed over. Ensure that you get a foot in the door by fine-tuning the keywords in your resume.

Experience

The experience you include on your resume is a primary deciding factor for your candidacy. Remember to remove any irrelevant experience. Furthermore, remove any experience from over ten years ago.

Hiring managers want to see what explicitly makes you perfect for the position they are looking to fill. Write a short paragraph about what your main contributions were to previous positions. Also, highlight previous experience that directly connects with the project you are currently applying for.

Spotlight Projects

While experience is essential,  projects can also help prove your worthiness as a candidate. Especially, if you are entry level and don’t have much experience, yet. Whether it’s an internship or a freelance project, adding it to resume helps you stand out.

First of all, they show your dedication and drive. Second, they illustrate any unique skills you may have acquired. If your projects are online, include a link!

Education

Although your education has to be on your resume, it’s not as crucial as your experience or projects. One line descriptions will suffice. However, you can certainly include extra information if you feel it will be particularly interesting for the position.

Education must be in reverse chronological order. Additionally, ensure that you list any special programs, boot camps or courses you completed. Certifications can go here, as well.

Technical Skills

When arranging your technical skills, be sure to eliminate any that are outmoded. No one will be impressed if you say you know how to use Windows 95. Show that you are keeping up with the latest software and programs in this section.

Connect your knowledge to your experience and elaborate on how you used your technical skills in the real world. Recruiters will appreciate concrete examples. Also, label your skills with a proficiency level, but avoid saying you’re a beginner.

Interpersonal Skills

Although web developers’ primary skills should be technical, interpersonal skills are important, too! Clients will appreciate a programmer who is a people person. Show your interpersonal abilities by utilizing specific language.

Strive to include active verbs like delivered, organized or elevated. Showcase your sensitivity to time and your ability to work well with deadlines. Moreover, go into detail about any leadership roles such as training or leading projects.

Tailor Your Resume

It might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s essential that you adjust your resume for each job posting. Even though the jobs may be similar, you need to optimize keywords and reorganize every time. The relevance of your resume depends on it.

Furthermore, keeping your resume as up-to-date as possible is never a bad thing. After all, technology is continually evolving. Tailoring your resume for each job is an excellent opportunity to check that your information matches your current skills.

Conclusion

Once you’ve perfected all of your content, take care to adjust your presentation. Opt for a spacious set-up instead of cramming information in. Don’t get too caught up in whether your resume fits into a single page.

Instead, please pay attention to your content and ensure its scannable. A colorful and creative presentation can be eye-catching; however, don’t go overboard trying to impress. Do your best to incorporate these ten tips, and you’ll be on your way towards your next web dev position.

Kristin SavageKristin Savage is interested in writing and planning to publish her own book in the nearest future. Also, she has been a reviewer at Pick Writers for a few years and is known for her thorough approach to accurately assess newcomer translation services. You can find her on Facebook.

If You Don’t Upload a Resume, Nobody’s Going to Call You

The title of this post seems like an obvious statement, but we’re shocked at the amount of candidates who apply for jobs without uploading a resume for recruiters to evaluate. Or, they do upload a resume but it lacks the detail required to determine if a candidate is qualified for a job.

Why You Must Submit a Quality Resume to Recruiters If You Want a Job

If You Don't Upload a Resume, Nobody's Going to Call YouThe days of having one copy of a brief, generic resume and submitting it to every company are long gone (assuming they were ever here). In the last 20 years, online job boards have changed the entire game of job searching and resume writing. Yet some people, aside from embracing online tools, are still playing the game like it’s the ’90s.

As job boards continue to focus on candidate experience and make the application process easy for you, keep in mind, they’re making it easier for every job seeker. When it’s easier, more people apply. When more people apply, recruiters are receiving more applications. When recruiters have more options, they ignore bad resumes, and they especially ignore the candidates who don’t submit one at all. Just because you wrote a compelling cover letter, a recruiter is not going to call you for more information. It all must be available to them right away. Anything less gives a perception of laziness, apathy, and just not caring.

This, of course, is assuming a recruiter even finds you. Automated applicant tracking solutions, complete with artificial intelligence, are increasingly more affordable and accessible to companies of all sizes. Even the smallest staffing agencies and employers are taking advantage of these screening tools, ensuring that busy recruiters and hiring managers only review resumes that a computer deemed valuable. When your resume does not include enough details and explanations about your experience, it will fail to pass a preliminary screening and sit in a database never to be seen again.

Furthermore, low-detailed resumes are often the reason you keep getting phone calls from recruiters for jobs that do not match your skillset. If you barely put in details explaining what you do, when your name does appear in a recruiter’s search, it will be for job opportunities irrelevant to your actual experience and job role.

A link to a public profile is also a great compliment to an uploaded resume, particularly when a resume is dated as it allows a recruiter to find more recent experience. However, as a stand-alone, the information detailed in the link will not be uploaded to a database and the chances of getting found for a particular position are significantly decreased.

We Understand, Badly Uploaded Resumes Are Not Always Your Fault

Yes, there are a few lazy IT professionals out there who are submitting useless resumes, and most independent contractors do put hours of work into their resume. So why do recruiters still complain about too many bad resumes being submitted?

In some circumstances, an applicant wants to apply to a job when it is posted, but because they’re on a phone, tablet or the wrong computer, the right resume was not available. In other cases, an error occurred that you were not aware of. Some resume formats are not readable by automated resume screeners and other times, though much less frequently, technology does what it does best and a glitch prevents your resume from being submitted properly.

How Can You Guarantee Your Detailed Resume is Submitted and Reviewed by a Recruiter?

First, double-check to ensure it is actually as detailed as you need it to be. The old rule of keeping a resume under two-pages is less significant today. Computers can read hundreds of pages in seconds, so if you need to add a few to ensure your experience is clearly explained, go ahead and do it.

Next, keep your resume in a simple format. That means Microsoft Word (even PDFs can cause headaches) and skip out on the fancy fixings. Tables, text boxes, images and locking can all prevent an automated resume screener from interpreting your content.

Finally, be patient at the fact technology has its downfalls. Return to your online profile to double-check that your resume was uploaded how you want it to be. If a recruiter does contact you for a copy of your resume, accept that there may have been an error, and politely email them the version you uploaded, including any updates they request.

Your resume is your number one selling tool as an independent contractor, and that cannot be understated. Automated resume screeners, artificial intelligence and other technologies (including their errors) are reality and that cannot be ignored either. Embracing these facts are a crucial first step in successful job applications.

5 Ways You’re Screwing Up Your Job Search

5 Ways You're Screwing Up Your Job SearchThere are many reasons a job search may not be going your way, and you can blame different people, circumstances and even the universe for it. However, if you’re a talented technology professional with a solid track record and you’re still having extended difficulties landing your next IT contract, it’s time to reflect on yourself. Here are 5 possible ways you’re screwing up your job search, courtesy of a few of the world’s most popular blogs and publications:

Your resume is out-of-touch

Back in January, Glassdoor published an article to “age-proof” your resume, noting that competing for work against the younger generation is a regular challenge for older workers. Some of the points suggest limiting the length of your resume or only focusing on recent experience. As we’ve discussed before, though, IT contractors can benefit by showcasing their lengthy experience and older skills, plus longer resumes are less of an issue when computers do the screening.

The rest of the points in the article are relevant to professionals in any age category. That’s because they focus on updating your resume so it meets the latest trends and fits into how a recruiter wants to see your work experience. For example:

  • Optimize your resume with keywords (make it easy for computers to identify that you’re a fit)
  • Upgrade your email address (thejohnsons@randomISP.net doesn’t cut it anymore)
  • Join the LinkedIn bandwagon (include the link to your profile in your resume)
  • Focus on achievements, not tasks (show how you bring value to clients)
  • Ditch the objective statement (replace it with a value statement or profile summary)

You’re not prepared for new interview trends

Hiring managers regularly experiment with new ways to screen candidates and ensure they’re talking to the best people. For example, this Glassdoor article discusses job simulation, the types of exercises used in interviews, and how you can succeed at them. In the IT space, simulations typically come as whiteboards and coding problems, and the article goes more in-depth to discuss types of assignments, online exams, role playing and virtual simulations.

Before going into an interview, discuss with your recruiter and research the client to find out if their interviews tend to use these techniques. It’s also wise to look into common forms of simulations for your specific role and the client’s industry. Finally, a Google search can help you find some practice assessments and prepare.

Your interview responses are too cliché

Fast Company is another source that provides great job interview advice, including this piece with 6 phrases that make hiring managers roll their eyes. When you look carefully, you’ll notice they’re all clichés and do not differentiate you from other candidates. If you can’t back-up these statements with specific examples, make commitments to your performance and explain how it will bring value to your client, don’t bother blurting these out:

  1. I’m an overachiever
  2. I give 150%
  3. I really love this company
  4. I’m hardworking/a team player/committed
  5. I’m extremely detail oriented
  6. I feel like this is a place where I can learn and grow
  7. I really love this company

You’re coming off as a narcissist

That’s a Inc‘s polite way of saying “the hiring manager or recruiter thinks you’re an arrogant jerk” and many job seekers do this accidentally. As the article says, nerves are a common cause of over-selling yourself in a way that makes you unattractive to the interviewer, but being aware of the risk is the first steps to avoiding it. Three examples they provide are:

  • Acting like a pushy sales person (instead listen to what the hiring manager has to say);
  • Claiming you don’t care if you didn’t get the job (instead follow-up and ask the recruiter for feedback); and
  • The interviewer thought you were over-qualified (that may be a sign you spoke too much or provided too much detail – try coming across as humble and emphasizing how much you still have to learn).

You’re not respecting yourself

The final job search mistake we recently came across has nothing to do with how you search for the job, but whether or not you choose to accept a position that does not deserve you.

A viral story swept the world early this year when a job seeker in England shared a brutal job interview experience. Olivia Bland was called back for a second interview where the company’s CEO spent the entire time talking at her and telling her how terrible she was at everything. Shortly after the interview, the company offered her the job.

Blant ended up declining the offer and shared her response to the company in a Tweet. Her courage is a crucial lesson to all job seekers to recognize red flags in an interview and don’t accept a position where you know the environment will be toxic for your mental health.

You are destined to mess up a job search at least once or twice throughout your career, but hopefully these tips will help you avoid one of these slip-ups. Can you help our readers avoid mistakes by sharing your experiences? Please share your stories in the comments below.

Watch an Expert Tear Apart Some Common Resume Mistakes

If you submit a terribly thought-out resume riddled with errors and nonsense, and assume nobody is judging you, we’re sorry to tell you that you are sadly mistaken. Your resume is your first impression to a recruiter or a client. It’s also the number one selling tool for your business. On top of the obvious proof-reading, details and honesty we always talk about, you must understand the situation and write for your target audience.

To get an understanding at how quickly and easily resume errors stand out to a recruiting professional, just watch this quick video from Business Insider. They hand a stack of resumes to an industry veteran and she provides her brutal feedback. Many of her criticisms are small details. An average job seeker won’t put much weight on these mistakes, but they will stand out to a recruiter like a sore thumb.

5 Pieces of Old Job Search Advice That No Longer Apply

The world has come a long way in the past 10-15 years. The Internet and digital world developed into something we never dreamed possible and there has been a complete change in lifestyles. Among the many areas of our lives that are different, the way we search for IT jobs has advanced significantly. In fact, the entire landscape has had a makeover. In 2003, we were in a transition from offline to online — IT job boards were buggy, social media was barely a thing, the fax machine was in-use, and only 64% of households had at least one member who used the Internet regularly.

To get a better understanding of just how much has changed, we sought out articles with job search advice from the past 10-15 years. Not surprisingly, a lot of the standard rules remain; however, there are also some out-dated tips that can be ignored today. Here are some of our favourites:

Keep a Collection of Index Cards to Help Track Your Contacts

5 Pieces of Old Job Search Advice That No Longer ApplyAs one of the oldest job boards, it’s no surprise that Monster is filled with 15-year old articles for job seekers. In this one about building your job search network, the author stresses the importance of keeping detailed records of your network with a collection of index cards, a note book or a computer application. While still feasible, the efficiency of these tools is not as great as a solid LinkedIn network, database, or free personal tools like Google Contacts.

Keyword-ize Your Internet Resume

Given the growing popularity of Applicant Tracking Systems at the start of the millennium, this article from CollegeGrad was far from the only one of its kind. In addition to recommending an “internet resume” for “the Net” and a paper resume, they stress the importance of including keywords in your resume. This concept is far from expired, but the way we think about it is different. Where the article remains valid suggesting a planned keyword strategy using nouns and being specific to make it easy for ATSs, it’s no longer necessary to be “keyword-centric”. AI and semantic search technology give Applicant Tracking Systems the intelligence to recognize words and combinations of words so they can analyze and classify resumes. As long as you ensure the content in your resume is of quality and descriptive, the keyword aspect will take care of itself.

Prepare a Plain-Text Resume

Again, advances in technology have changed the rules when submitting resumes. LiveCareer once advised that job seekers should have a plain text version of their resume, in .txt format. This would be used for uploading resumes or copy/pasting directly into the body of an email. Today, any ATS or online job board worth its weight can handle and read, at the very least, an MS Word document. Most have no problems with .PDF format resumes; however, these can still cause problems.

Cleaning Up Digital Dirt

In the past 15 years, there has been no shortage in stories of people’s lives and careers being shattered because of thoughtless information they put on social media. The way we view and clean up that “digital dirt” has changed since Women for Hire provided their advice. First, there is a suggestion in the article that it’s only teenagers and people in their early 20s who are using social media and that they should be concerned of incriminating pictures and comments. It’s safe to say that social media adoption has grown and there is no age range that is more or less at risk. In fact, all of the information in this article is still relevant (although MySpace is gone and “Facebook.com” has grown to be less of a place to create a professional image) but it is what’s lacking that stands out in this article. It is good to keep a clean profile and remove anything that could cause trouble, and all networks now have advanced privacy settings that you should take advantage of. Locking down your profiles to only a small circle of trusted friends makes it less likely (not impossible) for out-of-context jokes and pictures to harm your future.

Using Google to Find a Job

This is another example of advice that is not necessarily irrelevant but more out-dated. For many people, Google remains the number one way to find a job; however, the tactics suggested in this article by ODOJ could use a refresh. For starters, this year’s launch of Google for Jobs in Canada changes the game completely. We also know that Google has become exponentially more intelligent. While adding operators and tricks to improve your job search will not hurt, there is a good chance the world’s leading search engine will bring you the most relevant pages regardless of how you search it.

As noted at the beginning of this post, most job search principles have remained unchanged in the past 15 years, and in many cases, the past 50. Technology innovations are driving the majority of changes, but the non-technological pieces of advice — explain your accomplishments in your resume, follow-up after an interview, diversify how you search — have always been around and will likely stay for much longer.

2018 in Review: The Job Search Process

Job hunting sucks. It’s a long drawn out process of non-billable time, filled with the same old resume-writing and interview questions (you do, however, get to have conversations with some pretty awesome recruiters!). Still, it’s inevitable. Unless you want to be unemployed when your current contract is up, the life of an IT contractor means you are always on the look-out and you should be keeping current in your job search skills.

At Eagle, we often come across new trends in job searching or recognize major shortfalls in how independent contractors approach the task. One of the Talent Development Centre’s top priorities is to compile this information and share tips and tricks to help you succeed in your job search. Not surprisingly, this is the most extensive list in Eagle’s “2018 in Review” series…

General Job Search Tips and Trends

Resumes

Job Interviews

Industry-Specific Job Search Tips

Quick Poll Results: How Many IT Contractors Lie on Their Resume?

We’ve been in the IT staffing industry for over 20 years now and if there’s one thing we can be certain of, it’s that most IT contractors are ethical and uphold high standards of honesty. An area we’ve seen some professionals slip, it’s when trying to sell themselves for a job where they don’t have the complete experience.

Whether or not we received honest answers is uncertain, but last month’s contractor quick poll asked independent contractors if they ever lied on their resume, or even stretched the truth a bit. The results are below and very promising for our industry. While a few admit that they may have stretched the truth a bit, nobody responded that they have completely made up experience.

Quick Poll Results: Have you ever lied on your resume?

Contractor Quick Poll: Have you ever lied on your resume?

It’s not uncommon for recruiters to notice certain inconsistencies in independent contractors’ experience. In a few extreme cases, we interview candidates only to learn that they have no clue what they’re talking about and clearly made up experience to get their foot in the door. More commonly, though, after comparing different versions of resumes or asking a few detailed questions, we learn that a contractor may have stretched the truth a bit in order to qualify.

While we never encourage these actions and know that lies always get uncovered eventually, we thought we’d take the opportunity of this month’s anonymous contractor quick poll to learn how many people lie or stretch the truth on their resume.

Format and Save Your Resume for Recruiters, Not for You

Format and Save Your Resume for Recruiters, Not for YouYour resume is the first and most important tool in your job search. It’s the document that says everything about you and has to sell your experience to a recruiter or hiring manager if you want to hear back from them. The importance of that one electronic file is huge yet some people put so little time into it. Or worse, others commit hours on end to enhance their resume but ignore any advice provided by industry professionals.

Over the past few years, we shared resume formatting advice for independent contractors directly from recruiters, including some word-for-word statements. We even created an entire video series about formatting your resume in Microsoft Word. Still, with all of these resources, some IT contractors still fail to format their resume in a way that’s not only friendly to recruiters, but also to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs).

If our advice doesn’t get through to some people, then hopefully that of a N.Y. Times bestseller will. We recently came across this post on FastCompany by Martin Yate, author of  Knock ’em Dead: The Ultimate Job Search Guide. He provides six tricks for formatting and saving your file before uploading it to a recruiter:

  • Consider the file name. “Resume.doc” says nothing where “Jane Smith – Project Manager – 2018.doc” tells a much better story and easy for recruiters to catch.
  • Add metadata into your file. Under the file menu in MS Word, you can choose summary info to insert keywords and terms. This will make your resume easier to find if recruiters are searching with Windows Search or Apple’s Spotlight.
  • Keep the header and footer clean. Older ATSs can’t read in there, so when you include details such as your contact information, it gets lost. Now recruiters won’t know your address and you’ll never appear in local searches.
  • Keep fonts standard. ATSs also don’t like surprises and will read your resume better with basic business fonts such as Times, Arial and Georgia.
  • Also keep bullets standard. Fancy arrows, dingbats and checkmarks can also mess up when coming through an ATS or just transferring to another computer. Stick to the basic bulleted formatting.
  • Have clear and descriptive headings. This one isn’t for the ATS as much as it is for the reader. Recruiters scan resumes all day and want to be able to quickly find the information they need to see.

What formatting tricks have you used to sneak past the pile of resumes and immediately get in front of a recruiter? Please share them with our readers in the comments below.

Write a Resume to Grab a Gold Fish’s Attention

As technology advances, people spend more time attached to their devices checking social media, email, calling, reading news, etc. and this is all between having conversations and exchanges with actual human beings. The result is smaller and smaller attention spans that make a gold fish look focused!

Similar to most professionals, recruiters are also guilty of having the attention span of a gold fish. They work with so many technologies and tools that getting them to pay close attention to your resume can prove to be challenging. This video from Professor Heather Austin provides 6 tips you can apply to your resume that will make it more likely to grab and keep a recruiter’s attention:

  1. Have a clear message
  2. Include a branding profile (also known as Personal Summary)
  3. Focus on the Top Half
  4. Highlight Your Accomplishments
  5. Make it Relevant
  6. Place Emphasis on the Format