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9 Tips: Make Your IT Resume Stand Out

There's a fine line between grabbing a hiring manager's attention and making a complete fool of yourself. Consider these innovative ways to move your resume to the top of the pile.

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Times continue to be tough for job seekers. On March 26, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke declared that the U.S. job market remains weak despite three months of strong hiring. While the unemployment rate has fallen nearly a full percentage point since last summer, to 8.3%, the economy's growth has slowed in the January-March quarter.

None of this bodes well for today's talented IT professionals. With resumes from seasoned veterans and college grads alike flooding hiring managers' inboxes, landing an IT job can feel like a long shot. No wonder an increasing number of job applicants are taking matters into their own hands and finding new ways to differentiate themselves from the pack.

Just ask Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and author of Geeks, Geezers, and Googlization: How to Manage the Convergence of the Wired, the Tired, and Technology. "Having some type of approach or strategy that differentiates you and gets your name to the top of the pile is increasingly a challenge for job candidates and more important than ever," he says.

However, there's a fine line between grabbing a hiring manager's attention and looking silly. That's why it's critical that you think carefully about how to craft and deliver your curriculum vitae. "The first thing is to really understand your audience," advises Matthew Ripaldi, senior vice president at Modis, a global provider of IT staffing services. "Even if you do not know the exact person it's going to, it's helpful to understand the company. A resume that Google is going to think is eye-catching is not [necessarily] a resume that Morgan Chase is going to like."

Wolfe agrees. "Candidates need to be aware of the type of company they're applying to," he says. "A company like Apple may be looking for creative people who step out of the box. But if you're applying to a fairly conservative, more traditional family-owned business, too far out could turn them off and put you to the bottom of the pile--or the waste can. Doing your homework ahead of time can determine how far-reaching you can be."

[ How do you create an environment that fosters innovation? Read more at Innovation Doesn't Happen By Chance. ]

Candidates should also carefully consider resume delivery options. From emailing an attached Word document to applying via LinkedIn, you have many options. In fact, Ripaldi says, "Sometimes the way the resume is delivered is more important than the format or look and feel of the resume."

Here are some ways to give your resume something extra in today's tight labor market.

Instagram Resume
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Instagram Resume

1. Instagram. This free photo-sharing application does more than just display funny pics of your cat. Many job seekers use Instagram to showcase their skills by posting their resumes in fun and creative ways. "Instagram is definitely catching on in popularity because it really is different," says Ripaldi. In addition to creating color resumes jam-packed with pictures, you can post to Instagram and share your CV via Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Just remember, warns Ripaldi, to think about how a potential employer would prefer to receive your resume, and in what format. "Some companies, regardless of who's sending it, want a very specific format."

2. Add hyperlinks and screenshots to your resume. Don't expect potential employers to simply take your word that you're a top-notch web designer or application developer. Back up your claim with a resume that includes hyperlinks and screenshots of your work. "[Many] technical hiring managers like candidates [to] cite examples of their work, either through hyperlinks or screenshots of the projects they refer to," says Ripaldi. "If you've built or created a site or application, a company will want to see your work. Sometimes that's just as important as the resume itself."

3. Video resume. From flip cameras to iMovie, there are plenty of easy-to-use tools that can help you create a video resume that illustrates your skills and qualifications in a colorful and memorable fashion. In fact, popular career networking sites such as CareerBuilder and Jobster even let applicants supplement their resumes with video clips. Alternatively, job seekers can upload their videos to YouTube or their own websites and supply a link.

4. Slideshows. More job seekers are turning to slideshow presentation tools to walk potential employers through their skill sets, awards, and accomplishments. To help make this easy, SlideRocket recently unveiled Presume, a series of ready-to-use presentation resume templates that job seekers can customize to create an interactive online presentation.

5. Reverse resume. For out-of-work techie Andrew Horner, a "reverse job application" was the answer to a tough job market. Horner's reverse job application described what he was looking for in an employer and allowed companies to submit an employer application form asking questions such as 'What job are you offering me?' By inverting the application process, Horner received 250 completed job applications and ended up accepting a position with online mortgage financing site Nail Your Mortgage.

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