How to create a successful IT resume? (with template)
Finding the perfect job is never easy. No matter if you’re looking for your first job in tech or if you’re a seasoned IT pro. But it can be reasonably less difficult when you’re equipped with a proper CV that makes it easy for recruiters to find your strong suits and understand your greatest achievements right away. The recruitment team at Maxima Consulting looks through hundreds of IT professionals’ resumes a month. Read along to see the tips they got for you to make yours stand out in a good way and to learn how to build your resume step by step.
What is a resume (and what is it for, exactly)?
A resume (or a CV) is a document commonly used in the process of searching for a job. To put it simply, it is a summary of your professional career.
Typically, a CV contains your contact information, a career goal, work history, education level, additional certifications, and a list of your skills.
Resumes are used by recruiters to understand if you have the qualifications needed to do the job you’re applying for and compare your profile with other candidates.
What’s the difference between a CV and a resume?
Technically, in some parts of the world, there could be a minor difference in meaning between a curriculum vitae (CV) and a resume. Nowadays, employers tend to use these terms interchangeably. At Maxima, our recruitment team treats these words as synonyms.
General guidelines for building an exceptional resume
Before we jump into a step-by-step guide to writing an IT resume, let’s start with more general rules to ensure your understanding of best practices and resolve some common challenges.
What style should the professional resume follow?
The word “style” describes your CV’s visual side: colors, fonts, headers, columns, and dividers.
Generally, the contents of your CV are much more important than the looks - so don’t spend too much time on it. Nevertheless, a proper design can be somewhat beneficial in making a positive first impression.
For best effect, consider the industry you want to work in. Employers in banking, finance, real estate, and pharma will expect you to go for a more traditional style. Marketing, advertising, and tourism companies, as well as IT startups, will be happy with a somewhat modern and creative approach.
Whatever style you choose, make sure your resume is clean and easy to read. Recruiters will use it to find specific information, so be sure your styling doesn’t make their jobs tougher. For the same reason, consider bolding the most important information.
How to choose the right layout for your CV?
When it comes to layouts, CVs generally fall into one of three categories: chronological, functional, or combination resumes:
- The chronological layout puts the professional experience first. Then, there’s a place for education and skills. It’s the best choice for seasoned professionals with impressive work history.
- A functional resume emphasizes your skills, making them a central part of your CV. Then, there’s a place for your work experience and education. It’s a layout of choice for people new to the job market, as they already got the skills but only a little experience.
- A combination resume is a hybrid between these two layouts, generally used if you want to highlight several different sections. When it comes to IT professionals, we recommend using a combination layout with skills and education/certification on top but with an extensive experience section as well.
According to Maxima’s recruitment team, a perfect IT resume layout will have sections in the following order:
- Contact details + a short bio/summary of your profile
- Core technical skills + soft skills
- Certifications + education
- Work experience (with key responsibilities listed and projects described)
- Additional sections (optional but worth adding when relevant to the job)
If you want to use a template, feel free to check out the one we prepared in Canva - just click on “Maxima Consulting CV Template”
How many pages should a resume be?
Contrary to a common belief, a CV doesn’t have to be a one-pager. A lot of times, it’s simply too little space to include all the relevant information, especially if you have years of experience. You can include a great deal in your resume, as long as the outcome is readable and the information is divided into clearly defined sections. You want the recruiter to easily find whatever it is they are looking for.
A good resume should have enough pages to put everything that is crucial to the role you’re applying for, including a short bio, a list of your skills, and a description of job responsibilities. That doesn’t mean you should just pour everything that comes to mind in. Usually, 4-5 pages ought to be enough to cover everything.
If you feel like your CV is too long, you can definitely forgo listing technologies from a job 10 years ago that you didn’t work with since; use bullet points where possible; or remove one of the optional sections, like hobbies or personal projects. When in doubt, look at the description of the role you’re applying for and discard whatever is irrelevant to the job.
Junior CV and Senior CV - what are the differences?
In general, juniors and seniors should follow the same rules when building their resumes. Nevertheless, there are some modifications junior candidates can make to improve the relevancy and impact of their CVs.
At the beginning of your tech career, you should always try to fit your resume to the position you’re applying for. Bold the things that are relevant to the job description and remove anything that seems inconsequential. Show how your skills, experience, and achievements will help you in this particular role.
It’s ok for juniors to add personal projects. After all, your work experience is short. Just make sure to explain why you think it’s relevant to the job (e.g., you used a similar tech stack or learned to work in a team). Always add a link to your GitHub (or a similar site; or a portfolio). It’s the best way to show what you can really do.
What software should you use to build your CV?
- We recommend using Google Docs or Canva for building your resume, as they’re free to use, and you can choose from existing, professional-looking templates. The template we designed is available in Canva.
- Popular desktop tools used for creating CVs include Microsoft Word, Apple Pages, and LibreOffice.
- When it comes to in-browser online CV builders, you can try VisualCV, Resume.com, Indeed.com, or CakeResume.
- If you’d like to create a CV on your mobile device, consider CV Engineer for Android or Resume Generator for Apple devices.
- If you already have a fairly completed LinkedIn profile, it may be tempting to try out the LinkedIn Resume builder.
What to avoid when creating a resume?
While making your CV, it’s important to remember what its purpose is. You want it to look professional and introduce you to the company you want to join in the best possible way. You want a recruiter to easily find what they are looking for and identify all your strengths. Remember that the first impressions are important. Before you start building your resume, consult this detailed list of the things you should avoid:
- Don’t make it too fancy. A CV should have a professional look and feel. Adding too much “oomph” can distract people reading it from the contents.
- Don’t overuse images. It’s ok to use graphical elements in your resume but make sure that text can be copied from your document. Too many images, especially if they contain vital information, could drastically hinder the recruiter’s job.
- Never make the text impossible to copy. As said before, copying the fragments of your CV to paste them into a database (or to send them to the hiring manager) is something recruiters routinely do. There’s no reason to make it harder for them since it can delay the whole process (including the response time).
- Don’t make a resume feel like an essay. Use headers, sections, and bullet points to make your CV as readable as you can. Keep in mind that it’s harder to extract your skills from a whole paragraph of text than from a list. It’s also easier for you to make mistakes while writing full sentences.
- Avoid cliche profile summaries. It’s hard to make a good impression when using a sentence found on the internet in the first section of your resume. Yes, the recruiters saw it already, probably like 100 times.
- Abstain from an unprofessional tone. You shouldn’t also go overboard with the unofficial tone or straight-up boasting how fantastic you are and how everybody loves you. It’s usually unappealing - it’s better to show your skills and your personality and let the recruiter come to their own conclusions than tell them what they should think about you.
- Never lie about your skills or experience. Although it’s not that common, we can’t stress it enough - lying about your previous roles or the skills you have is never a good idea. It will come out, usually very soon. It’s always better to admit to your shortcomings because it may not be such a big deal as you think it is. It's rare that candidates fulfill 100% of the job requirements!
A step-by-step guide to creating your perfect IT resume
Let’s start with the list of all steps you should follow to create a winning IT resume. You’ll find them explained in the sections below.
- Choose the resume format, style, and layout. You can use our template (in Google Docs or Canva) to make things easier.
- Create a header with your contact details, name, job title, and a summary of your experience.
- List all your skills that fit the job, including core technical and soft skills - but add only those you use.
- Write down your education, degrees, and certifications.
- Add your work experience in reverse-chronological order. Include responsibilities, skills used, and tech stack.
- Write more about relevant projects. Mention which skills and technologies you used and what you achieved in the project.
- Add optional sections. Try to make it relevant to the job you’re applying for. This part is more important for candidates with little work experience.
- Save your CV as a .pdf or .docx file.
- Proofread your resume.
- Apply to your dream job :)
How to build a resume header, and what information to include?
The first section of your resume should contain your contact details and a short bio paragraph (a summary of your experience).
A proper summary consists of just a few sentences that explain:
- What can you do (technologies you use, projects you work on)?
- In which field do you work (i.e., development, QA, operations)?
- How much experience do you have?
- Where do you see yourself next (the direction you want to go in your career)?
When it comes to contact details, here’s a list of what to include:
- Full name
- Job Title (optional)
- Phone number
- Email address (your private address - not the current company email)
- Your location (city and country)
- Links to your LinkedIn, portfolio, GitHub, or other code repositories (optional)
What is the best approach to listing your skills in a CV?
- You can split your skills into categories, such as technical skills, soft (or social) skills, and languages. All these skills are important, but grouping them makes the section easier to understand.
- When listing the technologies, add the versions you’re proficient with.
- Remember to list the languages you speak (Dutch, Hindi, Polish, Ukrainian, etc.).
- In most cases, we don’t recommend using graphical representations of your skill level as it’s difficult to interpret them without any reference.
- Most recruiters will appreciate describing your skill levels with words such as beginner, intermediate, and expert.
- When listing your skills, include only those which are relevant to the job and which you actually have experience using.
- You can give examples of how you are using your soft skills (to tell the recruiter why you think you are a goal-oriented person). Although, this can also be done in the work experience section (in the description of your responsibilities and achievements in a particular job).
How to include your education and qualifications when building a resume?
We understand that formal education isn’t always needed to become a successful technology expert. Nonetheless, the schools you attended and the certifications you earned indicate that your skills and knowledge were recognized by authoritative institutions.
A properly done education section should include your latest education with:
- University name
- Years of attendance
Certification descriptions should contain:
- Certificate’s name
- Name of the issuing organization
- Year of receiving it
In the case of candidates with little work experience, it may be advantageous to include the relevant projects you worked on during your studies or certification efforts.
How to show your work experience in a CV?
This crucial section of your resume should be organized in reverse chronological order (from the newest work experience to the oldest one). You should always write about your responsibilities in the job and list the technologies you worked with. It can also be beneficial to include sub-sections with descriptions of specific projects, especially if related to the role you’re applying for. In that case, you should also remember to list the responsibilities and technologies in the project description.
A work description should always include:
- Position name
- Company Name
- Dates of work
- Your responsibilities
- Technologies you worked with
- Your achievements (optional but beneficial if relevant)
What additional sections should you include in a CV, and when?
Sometimes you will want to include more information about yourself. If you’re looking for your first job in IT, your personal project or volunteer experience can improve your standing in the eyes of potential employers. Or maybe you’re an accomplished freelancer who can show off some kinds of awards. Occasionally, it may happen that a company will request some additional information when posting the role description. For example, some businesses ask candidates to include a photo of themselves or to mention hobbies and interests in the resume. Either way, try to fit the sections’ content to the role and stay as relevant to the job as possible.
Depending on the role, you may want to add these optional sections to your resume:
- Volunteer experience
- Interests and hobbies
- Personal projects
Which file format is the best for a CV?
According to the recruitment team at Maxima, the best file format to receive a resume in is PDF., and the second place goes to DOC/DOCX format. Whatever you choose, make sure the text can be highlighted and copied from your document, as it will make the recruiter’s job easier (so don’t save your CV as an image).
Why should you always proofread your resume and how to do it?
Now, your carefully crafted CV is almost ready. One thing left to do is proofreading it. As we have said already, the first impression you make is really important, and you don’t want to spoil it with a spelling mistake or a busted table. If you’re proofreading your resume by yourself, take a break before you do it to clear your mind. Go for a coffee - or even better - sleep on it and proofread at least a day after finishing writing it.
But honestly, the best way to do it is to send your document to someone you trust, who can proofread your CV for you. Or even a couple of people.
You are ready to apply
When your resume is ready, it’s time to apply for the positions you want to get. We hope that you found our resume-writing guide helpful and that your search for a dream job will be fruitful. Since you’re already here, click here to check out the newest openings at Maxima!
Or follow this link to use our template: Maxima Consulting CV Template.