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How To Create The Best IT Resume for Top Tech Companies like Google

How To Create The Best IT Resume for Top Tech Companies like Google

Whether we are in a 1:1 appointment or covering resumes in our career course, NexGenT’s Career Service team is consistently talking about adapting to the twenty-first century of IT hiring trends and the way you are being viewed as an applicant.  

Resumes are no longer a 1-2 page document that shows what job you had and what you were tasked to do. Nowadays, and especially in a digital era, you are required to show what job you had and demonstrate through your resume how well you did in your job through your bulleted list of experiences. An IT recruiter should be able to envision you in your role with the bulleted experiences you provide.

What are IT recruiters looking for in your resume? Recruiters look for goal-driven, result-oriented information that has technical and IT industry-specific terminology embedded throughout your resume that is directly related to the job description. 

No former IT experience?

Not a problem at all! Soft skills such as teamwork, time management, and customer service skills go a long way. These transferable skills coupled with your NexGenT program experience through IT projects and earned IT certifications will make you an ideal candidate for many opportunities in the IT job market.

Download our FREE GUIDE For Preparing For Technical Interviews

“I love working with students that have different backgrounds, especially non-IT related. Most of the time, students do not realize how much of their previous experience has to offer a future employer. It is all about putting things into perspective, gaining confidence in yourself and stop all the worrying about how IT hiring managers are going to view you before you even apply to the job.” – Michael LaMarche, NexGenT Career Success Coach

Google’s IT Resume Recommendations

While in a constant search of the best Career Service resources for our NexGenT students to gain employment to highly coveted IT positions at technology companies like Google, we found a fantastic video from Google recruiters. The video gives tips and advice about what IT recruiters look for in your resume. 

Did you realize that companies like Google created resources to help candidates apply? It is more common than you think! It is actually to a company’s advantage to give candidates a leg up in the race in applying for IT opportunities. Good recruiters and other IT recruiters at top technology companies know there are talented individuals like yourself out there, and they want to be able to find you. At the end of the day, IT recruiters want to do everything they can to strengthen their IT job applicant pools, so it is to your advantage to utilize these company application tips and resources!

The Google recruiters cover the same information and advice that we teach you here at NexGenT. Our career services team has worked with top-level companies and know what companies like Google look for in IT job applicants. This is why we designed NexGenT’s career course and coaching methodologies the way we have. In order for you to be successful in gaining a job in IT, it is important for you to understand how you are being viewed by an employer.

Instead of going through mental gymnastics and the process of worrying about how you are being viewed by an IT recruiter, take a moment and learn about what IT recruiters are actually looking for.

Top Technology Companies IT Resume Tips

Don’t have time to watch the video? Below are some of the tips and advice to help a resume stand out for any IT job or internship at Google.

The IT Google recruiters emphasize the importance of using simple and consistent design, font, sizing, and spacing. Your presentation is everything! Most importantly, have strong bullet points and always avoid paragraphs.

Anatomy of a Resume from NexGenT’s Career Services Guide

Regarding the essential “need to know” information, it is important that your education and technology summary is at the top of your IT resume and your experience should take up the majority of your resume. Google has a specific bullet point framework that they look for. Here is a quick example “Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z]”

If you are interested in seeing what other top technology companies, like Amazon, look for in their IT job applicants, you can take a look at an interview we did with Anthony Nguyen, a Cybersecurity Solutions Architect at Amazon. In that video interview and blog, he shares his tips to break into cybersecurity as well as Amazon’s top tips for IT job applicants.

In conclusion, it is important to always do your research to understand exactly what companies look for in IT job applicants. Do not just be another IT applicant. Going the extra mile always gets noticed!

How to Find an IT Job During a Pandemic

How to Find an IT Job During a Pandemic

There are great opportunities, even in a crisis

With the outbreak of the Corona Virus forcing nearly 13% of the US population out of work through furloughs and layoffs, many are in a panic to find new jobs. While the announcement of millions of jobs lost is troubling, there is still hope in landing a stable IT job.

Because many IT roles can be done remotely, and their work is essential in keeping businesses digitally functioning and safe, there are still great hiring efforts for IT professionals. So, how do you find an IT job during a pandemic? 

Work your network

With all of the amazing job boards and tech tools for job seekers, networking is still the most efficient way to score an interview. Don’t keep your job search a secret. Let your network know that you are looking for an IT job and the type of industry you were interested in. 

While networking digitally, LinkedIn is an excellent tool to check in with your network and ask about positions that may be available. Also, consider community groups or IT forums on sites like Reddit, Facebook groups and even public Slack Channels

Download our FREE GUIDE For Preparing For Technical Interviews

In community groups, you will be in forums with professionals with a similar skill set to troubleshoot ideas, fine-tune your skills and talk shop. They’re also a great resource to find out about opportunities and to talk about your job search. In many IT Forums, they often have a “jobs”thread where they will post about job openings and let job-seeking group members ask for help on their career search.

Get your resume in shape

A hiring manager or recruiter spends on average just 6 seconds looking at a resume before they decide to read on or reject a resume. Even if you have excellent experience and skills, if your resume is lackluster in any way it will get ignored, and with some Application Tracking Systems (ATS) an untailored resume may get rejected. 

To make your resume more appealing, be sure to use job descriptions as your guide. Your resume should contain the requirements and job responsibilities listed on the job description that you possess so that you appear aligned to the position. Words that are used consistently on a job description are likely a “keyword”, which is a word that an ATS will scan to put you at the top of the candidate list as a good match. 

A few other quick resume tips:

  • Lead your resume with a strong skill section.
  • Keep your resume to 1-2 pages maximum.
  • Highlight your experience gained through your certifications.
  • Keep all information relevant to the job you are applying for, but remove anything that does not support your first job.

Connect with IT Recruiters 

A recruiter can be your secret weapon in getting the job you want. You can find recruiters who specialize in placing IT professionals by doing a search of IT recruiting agencies in your area or through doing a LinkedIn search for “IT Recruiter”. 

Once you make the connection, keep in mind that Recruiters are currently being bogged down now more than ever so they may not get to you as quickly as you may hope. A Recruiter’s #1 goal is to get a position filled, not help candidates find positions, but sometimes your goals can align if you nurture the relationship.

To keep the connection fresh, make sure that you are giving, not just asking for help finding a job. Share one of their job postings within your network or let them know about something industry-related that you think may appeal to them. 

Choose companies in industries that are stable

Right now it’s important to stick to industries that are not only stable during these uncertain times but are actually thriving. Currently, the healthcare (and HealthIT) shipping, online learning, grocery, and communication industries are hiring despite the pandemic, along with a good number of technology companies. 

All of these companies need IT professionals to keep them functional online, connected and secure for their end-users and customers.  

Before choosing a company, take a look at how they are handling the COVID19 crisis both for their customers and their employees. Not only will this help you figure out if the company culture is a fit for you, but it’s also something that consumers are considering when they make purchases.

Check big (and small) job boards

Large job boards like Indeed and Ziprecruiter are great places to have your resume and start your search, but also take a look at smaller, more niche job boards where you’ll have fewer candidates to compete with for jobs. 

Check out sites like Angel List, PowertoFly, Remote.io, Flexjobs, and your alumni’s (if you have one) job boards. 

If you are not seeing much available in your city, be sure to also check for remote positions as the distance may not be an issue for many IT roles. 

Stay positive

While the job search may seem daunting, there are still plenty of great opportunities out there, especially in IT that are just waiting for you to apply. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and always put your best skills forwards. 

Happy hunting!

EXPLAINED: IT Job Security Clearances – An Expert Reveals the Secrets

EXPLAINED: IT Job Security Clearances – An Expert Reveals the Secrets

Everything you ever wanted to know about security clearance IT jobs (including sponsorship) but were too afraid to ask…

What do cops, members of the security services, and systems engineers have in common? All of these jobs often require a security clearance. So do network engineers, software architects, and even coders. 

The number of IT jobs that require clearance might surprise you. Often, it’s not the job itself, but the organization hiring you for the job. Database administrators who work for the military, for example, require clearance. Database administrators working for private companies might not. Most government agencies, who are super-paranoid about national security, require clearance before you even pull up a chair at the IT desk. 

One thing’s for sure: More IT roles require clearance than ever before. Nine percent of all job listings ask for clearance, and 50 percent of these positions are in the digital tech sector. A growing number of organizations require candidates to have clearance before applying for the role, but it’s not clear how many applicants do. 

Recently, in our Meet the Mentor webinar series, we spoke to senior cybersecurity engineer Dereck Watters, who provided us with some valuable insights into the top-secret world of security clearance. 

In this guide, you’re going to discover the following:

  • What kind of jobs require clearance.
  • The four different levels of clearance.
  • How to get your clearance sponsored. 
  • The different ways to obtain clearance.
  • How to pass a clearance.
  • Other insights from cybersecurity expert Dereck Watters. 

Let’s Clear Up Some Things About Clearance

A security clearance isn’t something you can pay for. Or study for. You need to earn it, the hard way. Think of it as a badge of honor. A medal that proves you can protect classified information. You’re a genuine “keeper of secrets.” Someone who won’t snitch, no matter what.

There’s a huge shortage of people who have the technical abilities to perform a job with clearance. But Watters tells us that, once you earn clearance, you’ll be made for life.

“You’re pretty much guaranteed a job,” he says. “Put your resume on Indeed, and a thousand people are going to call you.”

Because there’s such a small pool of job candidates with the required clearance for some jobs, employers are willing to pay big bucks.

“Once you get that established under your name, you’re pretty much guaranteed a position from the Department of Defense or the Navy or the Air Force.”

The federal government views clearance as a prerequisite for most jobs that protect national security. So many government agencies have been burned in recent years — data breaches, like those at the Office of Personnel Management, Department of Energy, and Department of Veterans Affairs have become commonplace — so now candidates need the right security credentials to preserve the country’s biggest secrets. 

It’s important to note that there isn’t just one type of security clearance, but four:

  • Confidential: For people that could cause damage to national security if sensitive information is disclosed without authorization. 
  • Secret: For people that could cause serious damage to national security if sensitive information is disclosed without authorization.
  • Top secret: For people that could cause exceptionally grave damage to national security if sensitive information is disclosed without authorization. 
  • Sensitive compartmented information: For people who could access information concerning sensitive intelligence sources, methods, or analytical processes. 

Once you’ve got clearance, you’re good for 15 years (10 years for secret clearance; five years for top-secret clearance). This means, in most instances, you won’t have to apply for clearance again for a whole decade or more.

There are a whole host of jobs that require some kind of clearance, especially in the government. Even if your job role has nothing to do with national security — “I’m just a software engineer,” you say — some agencies still require clearance, and not much you can do about it.

Some of the agencies that require clearance:

  • Central Intelligence Agency
  • Defense Intelligence Agency
  • Defense Security Service
  • Department of Defense
  • Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • National Security Agency
  • Naval Criminal Investigative Service
  • State Department
  • United States Agency for International Development

Recommended reading: Why now’s a great time to consider a new career in cybersecurity

How to Get Your Clearance Sponsored

Unfortunately, clearance costs money — lots of it. It costs between $3,000 and $15,000 to gain top-secret clearance; however, the feds will sometimes cover the cost for civilian government employees and military personnel. This is called “sponsorship.” The good news: Once you’ve gained clearance from the government, you can use it for any job that requires it — yes, even private companies. 

Watters tells us there are four main ways to get your clearance sponsored:

  • Military
  • College
  • Part-time employment
  • Contracts

Military

This is the easiest way. Visit your nearest military processing center, and pick a military occupation code (MOS) that requires clearance. You can apply for this occupation, and the government will sponsor your clearance. It’s that simple. Just make sure you’re fit and healthy, and you have the correct scores for the role.

“You don’t have to do active military duty,” says Watters. “You could do the reserves if you don’t have much time. Or even the National Guard.”

College

Many colleges have government-sponsored programs that will pay for studies and security clearance. Sure, you’ll have to work for the government for a couple of years when you graduate (or pay a fee), but this can be a quick way to gain clearance if you don’t have the money. 

“Essentially, if you’re going for a STEM tech degree either in cybersecurity, system engineering, or electrical engineering, they will pay for your school, and they sponsor you for your clearance,” says Watters. “This is a quick way to get into a government position without actually putting on the uniform.”

Word of warning: There are specific time slots for when you can apply for these programs, so plan ahead. 

Part-time employment

There are jobs out there that will sponsor your clearance, but they won’t always be in IT. You could apply for a security job or a similar role and get sponsorship. Just look on Monster. Or USAJobs

“You could do this part-time,” adds Watters. “This gives you flexibility, and you get your clearance.” 

Contracts

Watters recommends that you look at how contracts are written for government contractors:

“If the government’s looking for a network engineer, some of the requirements are pretty weird. They will probably want you to have a CCNA, but they may also ask for a Microsoft server cert.”

It seems like a catch-all, but once you get to the interview stage, it’s a different story:  

“If you can hit some of those checkboxes — not all, but some of them — they might really like you and start the paperwork and clearance process. They will put the contract on hold until you are through clearance. The people interviewing you aren’t actually the people who write the contract.”

Recommended reading: From IT administrator to network engineer, check out our interview with Chris Mickinnis here.

How to Pass Clearance

Now comes the scary part. You might think there are skeletons in your closet, but your past isn’t always a huge deal. 

“We all have stuff in our past that we’re probably not too proud of but organizations are just looking for the things that you’re trying to keep secret from them,” says Watters. “Listen, most people think that because they smoked when they were 19, they are going to be disqualified. Investigators are not worried about anything like that. What they’re really concerned with is if you are a person that can be trusted with classified documents.”

The same goes for debt:

“They’re not looking for 800 credit scores. What they’re looking for is a person that’s trustworthy.”

A $50,000 debt in Guatemala that you didn’t disclose in your application? Potential red flag. A $4,000 debt for a TV from Best Buy? No problem.

“It’s hard to get people through the security clearance process because you need patience, and you have to have the honesty and integrity to put everything on paper. They are going to cycle through your life.”

How Long Does It Take?

How long is a piece of string? Clearance for government jobs can take anywhere from 3-6 months (and 6-18 months for top-secret clearance), and this process starts from the moment you turn in your Standard Form 86 — the document the government uses to “cycle through your life.” 

Once you’ve submitted Form 86, human resources will submit your details to the State Department’s Office of Personnel Security and Suitability, and this is where everything springs into action. Things will move quickly, at first. 

  • Someone will carry out a National Agency Check (NAC). It’s like a criminal record and credit check rolled into one, with searches covering your residence, employment, and education locations over the last 7 years. 
  • Someone will scan your fingerprints.
  • Someone will search the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigative index.

Then, you won’t hear anything for weeks. Maybe months. Eventually, a case manager will be assigned to your case, and you’ll be invited to an interview. This can be tough. The investigator will verify all the information you provided in your Form 86. Be prepared to answer questions, lots of questions. 

Where did you work? Where did you live? Where did you go to school? 

What do your parents do for work? Where did your parents live? Where did your parents go to school?

Investigators can check this information with law enforcement agencies, employers, and even school principals. No stone unturned.

It’s an exhausting process. 

“Look, if you can explain your background, then they are there OK with it,” says Watters. “As long as you can articulate why you have that much money, or why your wife is from there or husband from there, it’s fine.” 

After your interview, the investigator will weigh your results against security clearance guidelines. You’ll be notified of your results in the mail.

Now you play the waiting game.

Ask a Security Expert

In our Meet the Mentor webinar with Derick Watters, our students had some security clearance questions of their own…

How does a veteran get inside info about Department of Defense contracts?

“The biggest one is definitely word of mouth. If you see anyone on LinkedIn, just talk to them. Ask about open positions. Ask about clearance. Ask about sponsorship.”

What happens at the end of federal contracts?

“When the contract ends, they have to let you know. They have to discuss it with you up-front during the interview. Of course, you have to look for another position if the contract ends, but they need people with clearance so bad they will often keep you.”

What’s the most difficult thing about the clearance process?

“I have to get checked every 5 years. You know, sit down with somebody to explain why I bought a new house or car. I have to put my wife’s name down so she can get checked. Tell them about my family members. You have to get used to giving up a little bit of your privacy.”

Want to become a cybersecurity specialist in as little as 400 hours? Our technical skills, foundational concepts, and hands-on labs will land you that entry-level cybersecurity role you’ve dreamed about. Apply now

Exclusive Interview Tips from an Amazon Cybersecurity Solutions Architect

Exclusive Interview Tips from an Amazon Cybersecurity Solutions Architect

Anthony Nguyen, a Security Solutions Architect at Amazon, spoke with Sam Stuber from the NexGenT Career Services team about his career in IT and cybersecurity. At the end of the interview, students had the chance to ask him success questions. 

While the exclusive hour-long interview for NexGenT students was packed with helpful tips where Anthony shares about his own experience, this condensed highlight real offers a plethora of brilliant job searching tips.

In this insightful interview, Anthony shares the following things:

  • Triumphant steps Anthony took to get where he is at Amazon
  • How failures can be opportunities
  • Bots vs. people reviewing resumes and how to optimize for IT and cybersecurity
  • The IT hiring process, both technical and non-technical, and what you should know to prepare yourself
  • Sample interview questions
  • What to do when you don’t know the answer to an interview question
  • What hiring managers are looking for, including the T shape career development model
Interested in starting a cybersecurity career of your own? Click here to get trained in 6 months.

Additionally, here are some of the amazing resources that Anthony mentions and references:

  • How to Interview at Amazon: While this guide is specifically written by Amazon, for Amazon job seekers, it’s extremely applicable for any job you are preparing for. Included are sections on behavioral-based interviewing, the STAR answer format, tips for great interview answers https://www.amazon.jobs/en/landing_pages/in-person-interview
  • 101 Cybersecurity Slides: While Anthony took the time to share exclusive knowledge with NexGenT students, he has also mentored students in the past at places like UC Irvine. He shared with us the slides he uses to help students understand the different paths into IT and cybersecurity. Link to InfoSec 101: How to be a Cybersecurity Expert Slides Here
  • Coding Interviews & Challenges: Use websites like Leet Code to help you enhance your skills and prepare for technical IT interviews.

Ready to reach out to technical IT recruiters? Check out our step-by-step guide with email templates.

The ULTIMATE GUIDE to reach out to technical recruiters and make them want to help you

The ULTIMATE GUIDE to reach out to technical recruiters and make them want to help you

Reaching out to technical recruiters, besides a few things here and there, should be approached the same way as reaching out to any other person. By default, this requires an understanding of people’s natural responses to certain stimuli.

It might not seem as complicated as configuring a network with a bunch of branches from scratch or automating failover for disaster recovery, but how to deal with and influence people is quite a science too!

Believe it or not, a huge part of the success of public relations companies, politicians, CEO’s, managers, etc. comes from knowing how to awaken an eager interest and want in other people. When reaching out to technical recruiters, this should be your goal. You want to get them excited or curious about speaking to you, and you want to give them a very good reason to do so.

Download our free 5 step guide to becoming a Network Engineer

This is not that hard. In fact, the method I’m about to teach you might sound way too simple. Yet, public relations firms have been using it for years for one reason: it actually works!

So, without any further ado, here’s the ultimate guide to reaching out to the best technical recruiters (or any important person really) and make them want to talk to you even if you suck at writing:

Step 1: Do your research, don’t be lazy

 

Nowadays, there are recruiters for all kinds of jobs. Even in IT, there are technical recruiters who specialize in different roles and career stages. Technical recruiters need to find candidates to keep their job, so they won’t be annoyed about having too many candidates to choose from.

That said, it is critical that you’re reaching out to the right kind of recruiter. Otherwise you’re most likely going to get ignored and/or waste your time. Make sure you research what kind of jobs they usually look to fill and what career stage/s they focus on.

For example, if you’re a soon-to-be graduate looking for an internship don’t contact technical recruiters who usually hire for positions with more seniority. This can be easily done by reading over technical recruiters’ profiles on a couple of social media platforms.

You must realize that everybody else knows that technical recruiters  are constantly looking for candidates so they are probably getting a ton of messages and contact requests every day. That said, they might check them out, but will only pay attention to the ones relevant to them.

 

Step 2: (Message #1) Make them feel important/appreciated by asking a very thoughtful and/or considerate question

 

According to some of the most renowned thinkers of human history, one of the key characteristics of human nature is that of having a desire to be great and feel important. We all want to feel like we matter and that we are appreciated.

If you keep this in mind, you will be able to catch anyone’s attention just by tapping into their self-interested being. A great, if not the best way to do it, is by giving a person a high reputation to live up to and, very subtly, asking him/her to back it up.

You can easily apply this principle by asking them a thoughtful and/or considerate question that only an experienced professional could answer. Thus, implying they are an expert and making them feel important. I must admit this can be a little tricky but with a little bit of research you’ll be able to come up with a good and unique question to ask.

Nonetheless, you can’t just ask any question bluntly before setting up the stage for yourself. Once you come up with a good question, follow the structure of this template to write your message (don’t worry if they don’t reply to your first message. You must be persistent. That said, you must do it the right way. You don’t want to annoy anyone).

Note: check technical recruiters LinkedIn summaries. Sometimes they write long paragraphs describing themselves, what they do, and many other things that can give you a baseline to come up with a good-unique question.

Hey [name]

I know technical recruiters have to work very hard to find the best candidates, and that sometimes people complicate things for them. (notice how sympathetic this first sentence is)

You’re obviously an expert in your profession so I wanted to ask you a question: [insert question] (needless to say, you’re telling them that you think they are an expert, making them feel important).

I’m just trying to get a sense of what to do to prepare better for when I look to break into IT in the future. (Sincere reason for you to reach out. However, notice you’re not asking him to check your resume or consider you at all).

Hope you’re having a great day!  

[your first name]

 

Step 3: Selflessly provide something of value to them

 

Obviously your expertise is in IT, not in IT recruiting, so providing value to technical recruiters might be very tricky. However, keep in mind that many times, what matters the most is your intention. Good people will always appreciate good intentions.  

To do this, you must first understand the struggle that technical recruiters go through to find good candidates (read this article to get a good idea). Knowing the hardest part about their job, look for up-to-date tools/resources that can make technical recruiters’ lives easier.

You’ll probably have a hard time finding something they don’t already know of. Nonetheless, you’ll still be able to have the desired effect on them by going out of your way to selflessly help him or her out. Depending on whether the recruiter replies to your first message or not you’ll want to approach the second message differently.

Template 1 (if no reply to first message)

Hey [name]

I know people sometimes make your job harder by [insert pain point/frustrating action].

You probably already know this but if you use [link/name of solution] you’ll be able to fix/avoid having to put up with it. Anyways, just thought it could be of a lot of help to you.

Best,

[your first name]

P.S. Quick question: do you know why so many recruiters struggle to find candidates? It seems there are way too many people looking for jobs for that to be the case.

Template 2 (if he/she replied to your first message)

Note: keep in mind you asked a question on the first message so he/she should have replied with an answer to your question.

Hey [name]

[Address their reply, thank them for their advice if applicable]

Ex: Thank you for taking the time to reply and for giving me valuable advice, [recruiter’s name].

[Agree with whatever they said. Then lead the conversation towards one of their main pain points/frustrations (listed in the article linked above)]

Ex: I agree, too many people have too little hands-on experience and think that they are ready to break into a job and add value to companies only because they got one or two certs.

[Offer your solution starting with “You probably already know this but…[insert solution].”

Ex: You probably already know this, but there’s this entry/associate level certification where people have to prove themselves using up-to-date networking equipment and performing real world tasks. Zero written testing!

[close by wishing him/her a good day or with some form of goodwill]

Ex: Maybe this can make your job easier? Anyways, just thought it could be of a lot of help to you.

Thanks again,

[your first name]

Step 4: Ask them to check out your profile

 

Needless to say, even before you send them the very first message you need to make sure your profile is on point (you never know if they decide to check you out simply because they got a notification saying you viewed their profile). Likewise, try to figure out if the technical recruiters you’re reaching out to have gotten people hired for jobs similar to the ones you’re looking for.

Once you’ve provided value in any way, you can move on to make your request. Don’t hold back when doing so. Reach out to them like if you were 100% sure that they will like what they are going to see.

Keep in mind that you must make sure the recruiter’s job involves filling the particular position you’d like to land. Also, understand they might not be looking to place people at the moment. Yet, it is likely that they will in the near future. Anyway, regardless of what the case is, it is good to form relationships with as many technical recruiters as you can. You never know when they will come in handy.

Template 1

Hey [name]

Could you please check out my profile? I’m pretty sure I can help you fill one of your positions fast, and perform very well in it.

Best!

[your name]

Template 2

Hey [name],

I just got certified in-person by former IT Air force Instructors and Cisco systems engineers, and I’m ready to break into a job as a [insert job title].

Could you please check out my profile?

Best!

[your name]

Note: don’t be afraid to send another message after this one if they don’t reply to your initial request. There’s nothing wrong with following up!

Follow these guide and you will eventually be able to form relationships and get job offers from technical recruiters who work for great tech companies. Next step, make sure you know how to write cover letters and resumes that work in your favor.

The Secret Formula To Writing Mouthwatering Resumes And Cover Letters Like A Pro

The Secret Formula To Writing Mouthwatering Resumes And Cover Letters Like A Pro

Search online and you’ll find a ton of places saying that writing a good cover letter and resume is essential to getting a job, which for the most part, is true.

However, you’ll find people telling you that you should include “this and that” yet, the vast majority seem to leave out the most important thing about cover letters and resumes…

Do you want to know what that is?

It is the fact that your one and only goal, when writing a cover letter and a resume, is to sell yourself as a benefit to companies. Why? Because that is the only thing they care about!

Companies are run by normal people who are not too different from you and I. Silly right? Well, if you know a little bit about human nature you’ll know that us humans are, at its simplest, astonishingly self-interested.

If you put a company’s interests ahead of yours, and truly try to come across as if their priorities, wants and needs were more important than your own, you’ll find yourself writing the best cover letter and resume that there is to write.

Your expertise is in IT. So I don’t pretend for you to read this guide and become an expert at writing cover letters and resumes. Hence, I’ve added a few detailed examples.   

Related: The Growing Gap Between Education & Unemployment

But, before you scroll down to the bottom and start submitting applications, know that understanding the thought process that goes into writing a great cover letter and resume will help you in many aspects as you move through your career.

Cover Letters

In a nutshell, they should be used to:

  1. Address the company’s needs and wants (and long-term goals if applicable)
  2. Explain how you would add value to the organization
  3. Add a call to action

Let’s break them down one by one…  

Address the company’s needs and wants

Before getting someone interested in you, you must first understand what is it that they want and/or need so that you can offer it to them. That can be tricky. But…

Every single company out there needs to make sure that their total expenses are lower than their total revenue so they can turn in a profit; and, every single company wants to hire good people who can get along with existing employees.

That’s it. Simple, right?

With this said, if you’re applying for a highly competitive role you need to take it a step further by doing some research on the company’s market, competitors, ongoing/new trends, mission & vision, etc. so you can figure out their long-term goal and address it in your letter.

Explain how you would add value to the organization

Your cover letter should not be too long. In fact, it should only be a few paragraphs. So there’s no need to write exactly how you can provide value to the organization. That’s what your resume is for.

Nonetheless, you do need to state in a very brief and concise way, why it is that hiring you can help the company achieve and/or move closer to its goals.

This will allow you to be perceived as someone who can be an asset to the company rather than just one more employee.

Add a call to action

Essentially all you’re doing during the hiring process, from the moment you send your application to when you get hired, is selling yourself.

So think about your cover letter as the beginning of the process. You obviously want to invite your “buyer” to learn more about what you can do for them, don’t you?

You could incorporate a call to action in the same section where you talk about how you can add value to the organization. This way, you can keep your cover letter short.

Here’s an example of one of the best cover letters I’ve ever read:

Note: it is taken from the book How To Win Friends And Influence People. It’s a classic so the language might sound a little out of date.

Dear sir:

My ten years of bank experience should be of interest to a rapidly growing bank like yours.

In various capacities in bank operations with the Bankers Trust Company in New York, leading to my present assignment as a Branch Manager, I have acquired skills in all phases of banking including depositor relations, credits, loans and administration.

I will be relocating to Phoenix in May and I am sure that I can contribute to your growth and profit. I will be in Phoenix the week of April 3 and would appreciate the opportunity to show you how I can help your bank meet its goals,

                                                                             Sincerely,

                                                                             Barbara L. Anderson

Do you find anything odd about this letter?

Notice how the company and the hiring manager are the entire focus of it? Obviously she needs a job because she’s moving to Phoenix, but she doesn’t even mention that. Her focus is on positioning herself as a benefit!

Although writing the exact kind of letter might not do much for you for whatever reason, you could easily apply the same underlying strategy used on this example.

Here’s a template you could use as a reference:

Dear [whoever you’re addressing]:

Over the past [insert time] I’ve built a set of skills as a [insert role/industry] that should be of interest to a [compliment company].  

Over the past 2 years I’ve built a set of skills as a network technician that should be of interest to a growing company like yours.

My experience working in [broad area #1, #2 and/or #3], added to [your soft skills] make me a great fit to join your team as [title of job].

My experience in routing and switching, added to my ability to excel in team environments, make me a great fit to join your organization as a network engineer.

I’ll be in [location + time frame] and would appreciate an opportunity to show you how I can [help the company with whatever they need].

I’ll be in San Francisco next week and would appreciate an opportunity to show you how I can contribute to your company’s IT operations and overall growth.  

Sincerely,

[your full name]

Resumes

In a nutshell they should be used to:

  1. Position yourself as an achiever
  2. Reinforce your position of being a benefit to the company
  3. Showcase your attention to detail and organization

Let’s break them down one by one…

Position yourself as an achiever  

Companies want results. They need to either become more efficient and decrease their costs or provide more value to their customers and increase their revenue.

Hiring managers are very aware of this. So they look for people who can add value either on the hard skills side or on the soft skills side, but preferably both.

You can position yourself as the ideal candidate by strategically presenting your experience, credentials and skills in such a way that it seems that you must be considered at all costs.

Note: needless to say, you shouldn’t lie about your skill set. Don’t “put lipstick on a pig.” If you do, you might end up embarrassing yourself in an in-person interview.

Here’s how you can position yourself as an achiever:

  1. Read 5-10 job postings and write down the top skills companies are looking to hire for your desired role.
  2. Rank the skills from most important/valuable to least important/valuable in your opinion.
  3. Ask yourself the following question: what real world tasks have you performed in the past that illustrate your knowledge of these particular skills?

Once you go through this process, use this formula to present your skills:

[key action] + [key skill] + [key purpose and key result]

For example:

Designed and deployed multi branch network using XYZ technology resulting in a decrease of 10 percent in the amount of N that was generating B problem.

Repeat this process with all of your skills making sure that every time you’re coming across as someone who could add value to a company in the specific areas that the company you’re applying to is looking for help with.

Reinforce your position of being a benefit to the company

After writing a great cover letter, you want to make sure that your resume is portraying you as the “perfect” type of person to join their company. To do this, you must take care of other details besides presenting your skills in a results-oriented way, which can really help your cause.

One of them is your resume objective. Once again, another example of a topic where there’s a ton of advice, but people seem to forget that no one cares about what you want, they care about what they want!

So instead of focusing on your desired job title and the skills you hope to use in your next position, use this section to your advantage. Tell them whatever you want, but do it in a way that shows how valuable you can be to them.

Use this formula:

[credentials + experience as…] have enabled me to become an expert at [general skills relevant to the job]. I’m a [top soft skills] person with a desire to implement and expand my knowledge of [top skills desired by the company], and I’m looking to join your team, where my existing set of skills and knowledge can [benefits to the company].

For example:

My 3 years of experience working in the IT field as a helpdesk analyst and network technician have enabled me to become an expert at routing and switching. I’m a driven and motivated team player looking to implement and expand my knowledge of networking, and I’m looking to join your team, where my existing set of skills can help streamline your IT operations.

Showcase your attention to detail and organization

The way you present your resume can say a lot about you. You want to make sure there are no grammar or punctuation mistakes. Companies like people who are detailed oriented and organized so believe it or not, they will look for these kinds of mistakes.

Here’s a reference you can use to present your resume in a clean and organized way (make sure you are prioritizing the order in which you list your skills according to what you concluded are the most important for the role): 

Name & Last Name

# street, city, state, zip code

Email

Phone Number

My 3 years of experience working in the IT field as a helpdesk analyst and network technician have enabled me to become an expert at routing and switching. I’m a driven and motivated team player looking to implement and expand my knowledge of networking, and I’m looking to join your team, where my existing set of skills can help streamline your IT operations.

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

COMPANY 1

Title                                                 From(month/year) – to (month/year)

  • Designed and deployed multi branch network using X technology resulting in a decrease of X percent in whatever problem.
  • Relevant achievement # 2
  • Relevant achievement # 3

COMPANY 2

Title                                                 From(month/year) – to (month/year)

  • Relevant achievement # 1
  • Relevant achievement # 2
  • Relevant achievement # 3

CERTIFICATIONS

FSNA                                                                                     City, State

  • Relevant skill performed to achieve cert #1
  • Relevant skill performed to achieve #2
  • Relevant skill performed to achieve #3

EDUCATION

[       ] UNIVERSITY                                                              City, State

Bachelor of Arts in Information Technology Administration

SKILLS

  • Relevant skill #1
  • Relevant skill #2
  • Relevant skill #3
  • Relevant skill #4
  • Relevant skill #5
  • Relevant skill #6

ADVANCED SKILLS

  • Advanced skill # 1
  • Advanced skill # 2

If you follow this process and tips, you will be able to write a resume and cover letter combo that maximizes your chances of being invited to an in-person interview—regardless of how competitive a position may seem. Once in an in-person interview, however, everything will depend on how well you position yourself to the hiring manager.

If you found this article helpful, leave a comment below and let us know what you liked about it or what additional questions you still have. 

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