Write in Specifics to Get Your Resume Read, Not Just Scanned

IT recruiting is very specific, and recruiters are looking for candidates with skill sets that are specific to their hiring manager’s needs. A well-formatted, easy-to-read resume is critical to attract and grab the reader’s attention and make the reader want to get into the details of your experience. In this article, Patricia Martin, Business Development Manager, walks through her recommendations to get your resume not just scanned, but noticed.
It takes 30 seconds for resume readers to scan a resume and determine if it needs a more detailed read. A well formatted, easy-to-read resume is critical to attract and grab the reader’s attention and make the reader want to get into the details of your experience. However, resume formatting is highly objective and somewhat dependent on the position you are pursuing. As a business development manager, I scan hundreds of resumes a week, and have some recommendations to help get your resume read and not just scanned.  IT recruiting is very specific, and recruiters are looking for candidates with skill sets that are specific to their hiring manager’s needs. The length of your resume will depend primarily on your years of experience. People with less than five years of experience should be able to fit their resume on one page. Candidates with 20 years of experience, project managers, executives or candidates with Ph.D.s may have a four-page resume as they will need to show their progression, research, publications and successes. The trick is to summarize similar experiences and highlight the uniqueness of each position.

When writing your resume, remember: A technical career is no excuse for a poorly written resume.

Keep it Brief

Summarize your technical experience and stay on point and relevant to what your objective is. Here’s a short and sweet example for an IT service provider with broad experience:

A goal-oriented professional with extensive computer, electronics, mechanical and customer service skills. Highly organized with the ability to manage multiple projects and meet deadlines. A strong work ethic combined with a commitment to excellence in all projects undertaken.

That’s not the only option, of course. This example tells the reader exactly what she’s done at the beginning and makes you want to read more:

Executive Profile
Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and Project Management Professional (PMP). Over 12 years of specialized experience in Program Management, Project Management, Information Assurance, Information Security, Certification and Accreditation, Disaster Recovery Planning, Risk Management, Risk Analysis, Continuous Monitoring, Vulnerability Assessments, Threat Assessments, Incident Response Planning, Change Configuration Management, Security Architecture Analysis and Security Compliance.

Qualification Highlights

  • Provide security Program and Project Management to USDA, a network of over 30 agencies and 800 systems
  • Managed the Information Assurance Program for DOD’s largest travel system, consisting of over 4 million users
  • Navigated through multiple DISA CCRI, GAO and OIG/FISMA audits

Keep it Clear

When writing your resume, clearly state your education, certifications and hardware and software proficiencies. Don’t make the reader have to search through multiple positions to find them. By doing so, recruiters can easily identify if you have what they or their client is looking for. Like this, for example:


10/97 - 05/99 XYZ College, Your town USA

Associate of Applied Science Degree, PC Technician


10/01 CompTIA A+ Certified

06/02 Hewlett-Packard Certifications

09/06 Xerox printer Certifications


Skilled in hardware configurations and installations

Networking Systems

Basic understanding of networks, hardware and cabling

In this example, the applicant has a lot of technical experience that is spelled out clearly and concisely.

Technical Experience

  • McAfee Host Based Security System (HBSS): McAfee ePO, McAfee VirusScan, McAfee Host Intrusion Protection (HIPS), McAfee Asset Baseline Monitor (ABM), McAfee Data Loss Prevention (DLP), McAfee Policy Auditor (PA).
  • Integrity Monitoring: Tripwire Enterprise, McAfee ABM
  • Network Security: Sourcefire/Checkpoint/Cisco/Enterasys IDS/IPS, Network Access Control (NAC), Cisco PIX/ASA/IOS Firewalls, Juniper/Cisco/Sonicwall IPSec/SSL VPN, RSA Security


  • B.S. Computer Engineering (12/2006)
  • University of Maryland, College Park


  • PMP (Project Management Professional) (05/2010)
  • CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional) ID: 333302 (03/2009)
  • COR (Certified Contracting Officer Representative) (03/2010)


  • Active Secret Clearance
  • US Citizen

One and Done

When writing descriptions for your work history, don’t be repetitive. Include what was unique to each position. Include numbers when possible, such as the number of units installed, users supported, dollars saved the company, revenue generated and profit margins. This is a classic example:

Professional Experience

08/07-Present   COMPANY XYZ, Frankfort, KY

Network Security Administrator

  • Responsible for installing, updating and troubleshooting LAN/WAN devices, which includes web, application, database and management servers, Cisco switches, CheckPoint firewalls, BigIP Load Balancers, Dell/EMC SAN and Cisco wireless devices.
  • Develop strategic LAN/WAN projects for improvements and/or enhancements that are scalable and secure.
  • Maintain and monitor security events, network backups, network patches and Active Directory.

Key Projects & Achievements

  • Working with team members we implemented Active Directory Federation Services in our network for State partner logins.
  • Working with 3rd party vendor, I played a key role in the setup and configuration of the Dell EMS SAN CX3-10, which included installation of hardware, software and allocation of storage resources.
  • Upgraded load balancer environment from end-of-life F5 LTM hardware to F5 3600 series LTMs.

Here’s another good example of the use of numbers and highlighting the uniqueness of each project:


Consultant through HP, 07/2010– current

Technical Site Lead

  • Engaged as part of a team charged with deploying new computer systems for Morgan Stanley Smith Barney throughout the Northwestern states.
  • Direct management of crews of up to 7 to install up to 120 units during evening hours.
  • Coordinated deployment, configuration and testing with remote administrative support.
  • Provided onsite support and training for all users the day following the completed deployment.

Consultant through HP, 05/2009– 5/2010

Technical Site Lead

  • Engaged as part of a team charged with managing computer upgrades for Liberty Mutual Insurance.
  • Directed the efforts of up to 5 technicians throughout the greater Portland and Vancouver, Washington, areas.
  • Project tasks included backing up user systems, imaging existing systems, installing new laptop and desktop computers, restoring user data, configuring local hardware and troubleshooting any user issues. As required, installed new networked printers and network routers and switches.
  • Coordinated progress reporting and discrepancies with remote administrative and network.

Your resume is a living document, so keep it updated and fresh. Make sure it reflects who you are and what you know how to do. Stick to specifics including quantifiable numbers and proof that you can do what you say, and you’ll be in business.

Patricia Martin is the business development manager for SmartSource Inc.

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