By Mark Feffer
Reviewers spend about six seconds on a resume when they make their first pass.
That means your technical expertise has to leap out at a glance.
You can make that happen by incorporating your technical skills into every section of the document. But bear in mind: Employers aren't just looking for technical skills... They're looking for the right technical skills.
Think about it: A company that's advertising for a software developer has very specific work that needs to be done, which will require expertise in certain tools and technologies.
If your resume doesn't prominently feature skills that match their needs, the employer won't make the connection between you and the job it needs to fill.
That means the first step toward effectively presenting your technical skills is to customize your resume to the job you're applying for. Yes, that's a lot of work. Yes, it may mean you'll apply for fewer jobs. But customizing your resume is a sure way to increase the chances that an employer will see you as a good fit.
The key is to study the job description. In it, the company will detail the technology and tools that it uses. For example, an ad for a software developer might describe requirements that include experience with Java/J2EE, WebLogic, and Agile development methodologies, plus object oriented design and strong web programming skills. If your background matches these needs, you've got a road map to customizing your resume in a way that's going to get the employer's attention.
The first step is to be specific. Tweak your entries so that they include references to the skills and experience described in the job ad.
Next, create a separate "Technical Skills" section of your resume where you can list all of your skills in one place. Organize the list according to area -- for example, "Languages," "Tools," etc. -- or by type of technology: "Programming," "Networking," "Platforms," etc.
The section might look something like this:
Networking: Cisco, Juniper, VMWare, F5
Operating Systems: Microsoft Windows XP/2000; Mac OS X, Linux
Typically, this section should go near the top of your resume, beneath your objective statement or career summary. Placing the list so prominently increases the chances that reviewers will spot your qualifications at first glance.
And don't worry about the fact that this list repeats information you've included in your job summaries. This section is about making your skills easy to see. In the body of the resume, you're demonstrating that you know how to use them.
Technical certifications should also be broken out. They can be listed along with your college degrees in an "Education" section or, if you have more than one or two, in a separate section entirely. Either way, list one per line.
Unless the job posting emphasizes required certifications -- which might be the case in areas like cyber security -- insert this section toward the bottom of your resume, just above or just below the "Education" section that contains your college work.
Remember, your resume's job is to get you an interview. By highlighting the technical skills that match the employer's needs, you'll demonstrate that you're already an expert in the technologies they use –and that you're a candidate worth talking to.
Mark Feffer has written, edited, and produced hundreds of articles on careers, personal finance and technology for leading business and career sites. He is currently writing for JobsinME.com, JobsinRI.com, JobsinVT.com and JobsinNH.com, the top local resources for job seekers, employers, and recruiters in New England.