We’ve been talking recently about the value of IT certifications (especially the new VMware Certified Associate track). They give you confidence, help you do your job better, and, in particular, make you an attractive candidate for jobs you’re looking to land.
But let’s take a step back. Once you’ve received your IT certification, you need to make sure the people doing the hiring realize you have it. You put a lot of time and effort into getting it—don’t waste that by burying it at the bottom of your resume. The IT recruiting firm Avid “makes it a priority to include every logo for every certification on every resume” so that it’s the first thing that hiring managers see.
But badges are not enough—your certifications need to be listed in the text of the resume also, since almost all resumes today are entered in a database and searched by keyword, points out Mirek Burnejko, a CCIE recruiter and creator of the Everything About IT Certifications blog.
For this reason, Burnejko also throws out the old advice to keep your resume to one or two pages. Instead, include all the information (especially details of your technical skills) that is necessary to tell your story.
This is not, however, an excuse to list everything you’ve ever done in an unreadable list. Focus on including just enough design and formatting to allow the eye to process the information easily. And don’t forget section headers to help readers find what they’re looking for.
If you only have a few certifications, it makes sense to include them in a section along with your education. For up to five or six certifications, list them together under “certifications” or something similar; for more, break them out into several categories of certifications.
If you follow these guidelines, and assuming you have the right skills for the position, your resume should rise to the top of the virtual pile. At which point you’ll be faced with the next important step: the interview.
Probably the most important advice when preparing for an interview is to do your research. Sounds simple, but it’s overlooked with surprising frequency. You should have already started researching the company before you sent them your resume, possibly with a search on a company culture review site like Glass Door.
Research the company, as well as the specific person you’ll be meeting with.
Once you land the interview, spend some time on the company’s website, blog, and other social sites to get a sense for their voice and style. Then research the specific person (or people) you’ll be meeting with. See if you have any common interests to help the conversation along. You’ll also want to read up on the latest industry news, especially anything that might have a major impact on the company’s business.
Finally, after all this research and preparation, it can be tempting to try to tell your interviewer what you think they want to hear. Avid warns against this. “IT professionals who give the perfect, cookie-cutter response to questions” are doing themselves a disservice, they point out. “IT managers know nothing about them at the end of the interview because the answers they’ve given don’t say much about them as employees.”
You’ve worked hard to gain the IT skills and certifications that make you a strong candidate. As long as you help those achievements stand out on your resume and you are honest about them, you’ll stand out during the interview process, too.