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Top 10 IT Resume Tips of 2013

By Sharon Florentine, CIO
December 17, 2013 05:06 PM ET

CIO - It's been another productive year for CIO's Resume Makeover series. You learned how to target your resume to better highlight your skills, cut out unnecessary descriptions, and list your work history and technical prowess in fewer than three pages.

If you weren't selected to participate this year, don't worry. We've compiled a list of the top 10 best pieces of advice from our 2013 series here. (And 2014 is just around the corner, and if you'd like to participate in the resume makeover series please drop us an email with Resume Makeover 2014 in the subject and your resume attached.)

1. Take a Cue From Advertising

Take a cue from advertising -- make your resume read like a fast, catchy, hard-hitting advertisement of your skills and experience.

Resume writer Donald Burns says that it's important to make your resume function like an ad, because in a world full of noise, competition and distraction, you need to say a lot quickly.

Burns says a resume needs to read fast with key items highlighted. All items should be short -- one to three sentences at the most. The goal is to make it easy to read or scan in five or 10 seconds. Once it gets beyond three to five lines, it'll be much more difficult for readers to digest, according to Burns.

2. Don't Forget LinkedIn

Use LinkedIn to your advantage. The social network is a crucial tool in any job search. Don't neglect it, because recruiters, hiring manager and other job-seekers certainly aren't.

Sure, you want to keep up with friends and family on Facebook, and have pins of holiday crafts for your kids on Pinterest. But don't ignore LinkedIn when it comes to your career.

Keep your profile updated as you finish projects, add new skills or take new classes. Recommend your colleagues and peers for their talents and skills, and ask that they do the same for you. And check out security solutions provider Rapid7s senior director of talent acquisition Ed Nathanson's take on how organizations are using LinkedIn to search for talent; you might pick up a few more tips on how to use keywords and Boolean searches to your advantage.

3. Highlight What Makes You Different

Highlight what makes you different, but resume writer Jennifer Hay says to also simplify your messaging and remove excessive buzzwords.

Hay, working on tech pro Brad Kirk's extensive resume, says she identified repetitive messaging and categorized those to streamline Kirk's resume.

"I had to break them down into categories to make it easier to organize the information and collect it under a simple message," says Hay.

She says he noticed throughout the resume that Kirk had described some of the same skills more than once. "He had multiple bullet items that were sending the same message. You have such little space in a resume, so why repeat the message?" says Hay.

Finally, though Kirk refers to himself as a cloud industry thought-leader, no mention of these skills appeared on the first page of his resume, Hay says.

"He called himself a cloud industry thought-leader and a cloud strategist and there was no connection between that statement and his old resume," says Hay. The information was in there, but it was almost impossible to pull it out, she says.

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