You have only 7.4 seconds to make a lasting impression on a recruiter with your resume. That’s less time than it takes to brew a cup of coffee. In today’s highly competitive tech industry, employers often receive hundreds of applications for a single job listing, so it’s essential to stand out to get noticed by recruiters.
An analysis of 200 Pathrise fellows further emphasizes the importance of a well-crafted resume. The study revealed a significant variation in the initial resume screen conversion, ranging from 0.5% to 20%. This staggering 40x difference indicates that some candidates heard back from as few as 1 in 100 applications, while others experienced responses as high as 1 in 5. In contrast, the interview success rate showed less variation, ranging from 20% to 80%, or only a 4x difference. These findings underscore the immense impact a great resume can have on your job search traction, potentially increasing your chances of success tenfold.
A resume is your chance to showcase your skills, experience, and achievements and convince potential employers that you’re the right fit for the job. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll go over what to include in a resume to secure your desired position in tech, along with examples and tips to help you get started.
Name and contact information
Although it seems simple, this section is probably the most critical part of your resume — recruiters can’t offer you an interview if they can’t contact you in the first place! At a minimum, include the following personal information on your resume:
- Professional email address
- Phone number
- Target job title from the job description
- General location (city/state, country) if relevant to the role
Below is an example that includes the candidate’s name and contact information, plus some other details a recruiter might be looking for: Along with your basic personal information, add links to your online presence to give recruiters more context about your qualifications for the role. This might include your:
- LinkedIn profile
- Portfolio website
- Github profile for data scientists, developers, and coders
- StackOverflow profile for computer scientists, developers, and coders
- Professional blog for writers, marketers, and entrepreneurs
Pro tip: “The frequency of the job title appearing as a keyword in your resume correlates with better chances of receiving a callback from potential employers,” explains Michelle Zhang, a Resume and Profile Specialist at Pathrise. Including the target job title, such as “product manager,” at the top of your resume can determine whether a recruiter will take the time to evaluate your qualifications or discount you within that seven-second review.
A career or resume summary is your first opportunity to introduce yourself and explain why you’re qualified for the role, which is especially important if you’re looking to move into the tech industry. In this resume section, call out the specific skills, experience, and certifications that make you the best candidate for the job in three lines or less.
This is also the first section where you can optimize your resume using keywords from job descriptions. By including specific words and phrases from the job listing, you’ll increase the likelihood that your resume will pass through applicant tracking systems (ATS) and reach a human recruiter or hiring manager.
Let’s say you’re applying for marketing director roles and come across this job description:
Notice how the job listing mentions specific skills multiple times, which we’ve highlighted above. If you have experience in these areas, include the exact keywords in your career summary so recruiters will see your qualifications upfront. We’ll go over some other examples of how to do this in the skills section of your resume later on.
It’s important to note that summaries are optional and often work better for more experienced candidates with longer resumes as well as for job seekers who are pivoting careers or relocating. “If you’re trying to get your resume down to one page, which is smart for job seekers with less than five years of experience, then the summary would be the first section to omit if you’re running out of space,” recommends Michelle. “You may prefer to keep certain impressive bullet points under your work experience and skills sections.”
Pro tip: “Instead of using the word ’summary,’ I like to replace that with whatever title you’re going for,” says Becca Kronenbitter, a career mentor at Pathrise who has helped hundreds of fellows find their dream jobs at leading tech companies like Facebook and Netflix. This means using your target title, like “software engineer” or “data scientist,” as the header of your career summary section.
Your professional experience is the core of your resume, so take the time to highlight your past responsibilities and achievements and prove you’re the right fit for the role. Tech recruiters are looking for candidates who can bring tangible results to their team, so emphasize your specific contributions and impact in your previous roles.
List only the work history that is the most relevant to the role in reverse chronological order. If you have many years of experience, limit yourself to roles from the past 10 years. Here’s the information you need to include on a resume for a tech role:
- Job title
- Company or organization
- Achievements, tasks, and responsibilities
For each experience, describe your contributions to the company in four to six bullet points. For maximum impact, start each bullet point with an action verb. Make sure to quantify your accomplishments with specific metrics. Michelle recommends to “provide a variety of metrics to quantify your work in different ways, this will help showcase your dynamic impact from previous roles.”
According to data we’ve seen, people who use numbers to quantify their impact in a role increased their interview rate by about 40%. To start adding numbers to your resume, try following this formula: Accomplished X to achieve Y as measured by Z.
Let’s take a look at an example below:
Throughout this section, the candidate quantified multiple achievements to show how their work contributes to the organization’s growth and profitability. They include metrics ranging from volume, profit, and percentage increases, which gives a holistic picture of the job seeker’s work and impact. They also make any metrics bold to help recruiters spot them more easily. One bullet follows the formula very closely: “Provide 24+ reps of Salesforce usage and CRM guidance resulting in 30% of clients having successfully implemented the new product.”
Pro tip: Although it’s known as work or professional experience, unpaid experience also counts. If you haven’t had many paid jobs, add other roles, like internships and volunteer work, and highlight how these experiences helped you develop the skills needed for your target job.
Whether you’re a recent graduate or looking to transition into a new field, adding a project section to your resume can help compensate for a lack of experience. Plus, while experience only shows you can do work when you’re told, projects demonstrate initiative. For roles where initiative and independence are critical, some recruiters will specifically look for a projects section while reviewing resumes.
“A project section can also demonstrate industry expertise that may be missing in your experience,” adds Michelle. “For example, if you’re interested in edtech companies but don’t have experience at an edtech company directly, you can use projects to demonstrate that.”
The format of this section is similar to work experience:
- Project name
- Related program or organization
- Achievements, tasks, and responsibilities
Below is an example of a project experience section:
Some other projects you might include in this section are:
- Boot camp training
- Vocational school
- Thesis project
- School capstone project
- Passion project
- Side businesses
List only the projects relevant to the role so you’re not taking up valuable real estate on your resume. For each project’s description, explain why it is important, how you did it, and what the results are. This gives employers concrete examples of what you’ve accomplished and how you’ve done it to help you stand out from other applicants.
Pro tip: If you’re unsure how to write this section, try talking to another person about your projects. “This can help you draw out the achievements you’re most proud of so you can create those bullet points,” explains Becca. To start, have them ask you about the project’s purpose and impact, along with any specific skills, tools, or methodologies you used.
In this section, you’ll provide a brief but thorough overview of your abilities and knowledge to potential employers. If you’re looking to make a career transition into the tech industry, this section is where you can show you have transferable skills despite any lack of experience.
Here are some examples of how to approach the skills section in your resume:
The skills section is also one of the best places to use keywords and phrases from the job listing to optimize your resume for applicant tracking systems (ATS). First, collect five to ten job descriptions with similar job titles. Then compare them to your resume using a free ATS tool, like Jobalytics, Jobscan, or ResyMatch.
“The threshold that candidates will want to shoot for is somewhere between 45% and 65%,” explains Ben Hyland, a senior career coach at Pathrise who has placed fellows at hundreds of top tech companies, including Google, Amazon, and Apple. “If you try optimizing your ATS scores to 100% for every role, you’ll create isolated resumes that can’t be used for other job applications.”
“It’s important to consider the ROI on time spent customizing your resume for each job application,” noted Troy Kyles, another career coach at Pathrise. “If you invest one hour customizing your resume per job application, there are significant diminishing returns. Instead, you could have five versions of your resume ready, then pick the best fit for each role and adjust it slightly before submitting.”
Pro tip: To make this section easier for hiring managers to skim, sort your skills into separate groups. Consider general categories, like hard skills and soft skills, or core competencies, like programming languages and cloud technology.
Many job listings require a certain level of education or training, especially for more technical or specialized roles. Along with any degrees you’ve earned, add relevant certifications, boot camps, or other training to this section. Below is a simple structure to use for this section:
- Type of degree or certification
- University or program name
- Relevant coursework, thesis, or capstone project
- GPA: Only add this if you’re a student or recent graduate and it’s higher than 3.5
Here is some other optional information to consider adding if it’s relevant to the role:
- Graduation date: Leave this out if you completed the program 10+ years ago
- Location: City/state, country
- Awards and other honors, e.g., cum laude, departmental award
- Minor(s) if relevant
Pro tip: It’s typically best to put your education section at the end of your resume. Hiring managers care much more about your experience and relevant skills, especially if you finished school a few years ago. However, if you’re a recent graduate from a prestigious university, then put this section at the top to highlight it for recruiters.
Awards and achievements
Achievements, like industry awards or even internal recognition, further demonstrate your dedication and success in your field. In the tech industry, where competition is fierce, highlighting these accomplishments can help you distinguish yourself from other candidates.
When listing awards, make sure they’re relatively recent, especially if they’re associated with a specific job or education program. Here’s an example:
Notice how the awards section doesn’t mention anything from the candidate’s earlier education. Older achievements are less likely to impress recruiters, so it’s better to leave them out entirely if you have nothing more recent.
Pro tip: If you don’t have room for a separate awards section, add this information to the relevant experience. For instance, under your experience as a marketing director, add a bullet that says, “Earned #1 SDR rank within 3 months of employment by developing and maintaining a pipeline of potential new customers, leading to a 45% increase in new business.”
What not to put on a resume
Depending on how long your resume is, you might be tempted to fill up any empty space with additional information that isn’t relevant to the job. Below is the information you absolutely should not put on your resume, even if it’s less than one page.
A career or resume objective focuses more on your goals than how your skills and experience will help the employer reach their goals. As Ben puts it, “I would never recommend using an objective statement. Those are outdated and not useful at all.”
An analysis of over 6,000 resumes across 116 roles found that adding a resume objective didn’t increase a candidate’s chances of being hired in 91% of roles. If you want to impress a potential employer, use your resume to highlight what you bring to the table, not what you hope to gain from getting an offer.
Pro tip: If you’re an entry-level job seeker, a recent graduate, or making a career transition, you can write about your career objective in your cover letter.
Hobbies and interests
It’s common sense that hiring managers want to work with people they like. So it might seem like a good idea to add your hobbies and interests to your resume, especially if it’s on the shorter side. But this information is less relevant than your actual qualifications, so it’s best to leave it out.
Pro tip: Add your interests and hobbies to your LinkedIn profile instead of your resume. “It’s nice to have them as conversation starters so people get to know you a little,” says Becca.
References don’t belong on a resume. You also don’t need to note that your references are available on request. Recruiters assume that you can provide references later on in the hiring process.
Pro tip: Create a separate reference list that’s ready to share with hiring managers when they ask.
Craft a winning resume that gets results
Getting your dream job in tech may take some time and effort, but having a strong resume is a crucial first step in a successful job search. By following this guide on what to include in your resume, you’ll be well on your way to landing your next role. Now that you have a better idea of what to put on a resume, check out our resume format tips for hiring algorithms.
If you’re not sure how to approach building your resume, you might benefit from personalized career mentorship. Pathrise is an online program for tech professionals that offers 1-on-1 career training to help you land your next job in tech. With a wide range of industry tracks — from technical roles like data and software engineering to nontechnical fields like marketing and operations — our fellows get to work with mentors from industry-leading companies who know how the hiring process works in the tech world.
To get started on the next part of your career journey, apply to Pathrise today!