Whether you’re an aspiring software engineer or a veteran in the tech industry, you need a compelling technical resume when applying for a new job.
A good resume highlights your work proficiency and professional achievements in the best way possible. On the other hand, if you’re someone with no experience, an organized resume will help recruiters see the skills and potential you carry.
In the increasingly competitive field of technology, a good technical resume is a great way to stand out among other candidates.
That’s why we’ve created this guide to show you precisely how to make a stellar technical resume, and we’ve included a bunch of tips and tricks to help you polish it to perfection. So, let’s dive in!
Must-have sections for a tech resume are the contact information, resume summary or objective, work experience, education, and skills sections.
Optional sections include certifications, languages, hobbies and interests, and a portfolio.
Use the reverse chronological order when listing your previous jobs.
Only include your latest and most important degree obtained.
Add a list of position-specific hard skills and a separate list of soft skills.
Write a personalized cover letter to stand out from other applicants.
What Format Should You Use for a Technical Resume?
There are three tried-and-true formats for technical resumes that will make sure the information is presented in the best way possible to hiring managers. These are:
Common Resume Formats
The trick is knowing which one is best for you.
In most cases, you should opt for a chronological resume format when creating a technical resume. It emphasizes your work experience and achievements, and it’s also the best format if you want to be sure you’ll pass the ATS scan.
This format presents your professional and academic career in a reverse-chronological order, placing your latest and most important accomplishments first. That way, your potential employers can easily see your most prominent achievements first. Once you have their attention, they will be interested to see your progress over the course of your career.
On the flip side, if you’re making a technical resume with no experience (e.g., you’re still a student, a recent graduate, or maybe you’re changing careers), you should go with the functional resume format.
It focuses on your skills as the main section and uses bullet point lists to reinforce every skill with relevant accomplishments you’ve obtained so far. The downside of this format is that it conceals your experience, so even if you have some, it’ll be hardly visible. It’s also non-ATS scannable.
Finally, there’s the combination resume format. It’s similar to a functional resume in that it also emphasizes your skills. This time around, you back them up with comprehensive work experience. The format is best used by seasoned veterans who are highly specialized in the field. It’s a difficult one to organize and pull off, but it can pass the ATS scan.
Once you decide on the format you’re going to use for your technical resume, the only thing left is to come up with a proper resume layout.
For starters, unless you have years of work experience and numerous important projects to highlight, make your resume one page long. Then, adjust the margin size accordingly to make each section prominent.
Next, choose a proper font for your resume and use a hierarchy of font sizes to highlight each subheading.
Finally, make sure to use bulleted lists where applicable to deliver information in a clear and readable manner. Also, clever usage of bold and italics formatting throughout your technical resume will help you accentuate crucial parts.
What Sections Should a Technical Resume Contain?
In order to create a qualified technical resume, you have to know which resume sections are mandatory. Omit any of these, and recruiters might skip it altogether, or it could get discarded automatically by the ATS scanning software. These sections are:
Mandatory Technical Resume Section
Resume summary or objective
Now, there could always be real estate left over on your resume after including all of these sections. Or, you could have important information to include that might not belong in any of the mandatory sections. In that case, you could add one or more optional sections to dress up your technical resume further or give it a personal touch. Examples of such sections are:
Optional Technical Resume Sections
Hobbies & interests
Don’t underestimate the power of optional resume sections. Even though they are not mandatory, recruiters will likely use them to differentiate between candidates with similar work experience, education, and skills.
Technical Resume Contact Information
The contact information section goes at the top of your technical resume as a part of the resume header.
It’s a straightforward part of your application where, at the very least, you should state your name, professional title, phone number, and email address. Once that is in, you can add other things like your physical location, portfolio, relevant social media accounts, your professional website, and more.
LinkedIn, for example, is becoming a staple in the business world, so you should aim to include your profile whenever possible. Similarly, a link to a GitHub account is a welcome addition for many tech positions.
Also, keep in mind that while a full mailing address was once required, you can now omit it entirely or simply write your city and state or province. Because of laws against discrimination, you don't have to list your full address or even your gender, religion, or race. For the same reason, avoid adding a photo to your resume header too.
Let’s take a look at a succinct technical resume header sample:
We can see the title, phone number, and email address of the candidate, which gives recruiters several contact options. The candidate has also added a LinkedIn account and a link to their portfolio, allowing recruiters to learn more about them and see their work in action, should they want to do so.
Here’s another example with different formatting, where the applicant has included their physical location and Github link:
With the essentials out of the way, here are a few tips to make your contact information section top-notch:
Contact Information Section Tips
Ensure impeccable grammar and spelling.
Use a professional email address.
Use a proper title (no “IT Magician” and similar).
Technical Resume Objective or Summary
A resume summary or objective is the first paragraph at the top of your resume. It’s a brief and concise section used to introduce yourself to recruiters.
Depending on your past experience, you’ll use either a resume summary or a resume objective.
If you're new to the industry and don't have any work-related achievements to highlight, you should use a resume objective. Its purpose is to state your career goals and to show your enthusiasm for the job you’re applying for.
If you have work experience, however, you should write a resume summary to give recruiters a quick rundown of your application and to point out your most notable achievements.
How to Write a Technical Resume Objective
The aim of a resume objective is to emphasize your abilities and motivation. Since you lack work experience, you can offset that by listing relevant hard and soft skills. Also, displaying interest in the company you’re applying for shows recruiters, you’re enthusiastic about the job and likely to perform well.
Furthermore, even though you don’t have relevant professional history to showcase, you can still point out some experience, as long as it’s relevant. Anything from college projects to volunteering, internships, and freelance work will do the trick.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how to write a resume objective:
Technical Resume Objective Example
“Attentive and diligent IT specialist with a background in graphic design. Looking to join a front-end development team at [Company] that focuses on web design. Created a parallax website for a local business and implemented a payment processor on an e-commerce site.”
The candidate showed both their soft skills and industry-specific ones. They displayed interest in a particular position at the company and even managed to include some of their job-related accomplishments.
Now, let’s take a look at a bad resume objective example that won’t impress recruiters:
“IT professional with a BS in mathematics and computer science. Looking to fill a position in the IT sector. I have previously worked as a bartender and a hotel receptionist.”
The candidate failed to mention any specific skills outside their degree. They also showed no particular interest in the company, and while some experience was listed, it was irrelevant to the job they were applying for.
How to Write a Technical Resume Summary
A resume summary is used by experienced individuals who want to grab the hiring manager's attention right off the bat with their most impressive achievements. Be specific and use numbers to quantify your accomplishments and display results. That allows recruiters to make an educated guess as to what you’re capable of.
Consider the following example:
Technical Resume Summary Example
"Devoted IT professional with over 7 years of experience in the industry. Looking to leverage my system and server administration skills to boost [company's] ROI. Spearheaded a company-wide transition to cloud computing at [previous workplace], successfully helping 120+ employees adjust to the improved workflow and lowering cybersecurity risk by 50%.”
Notice how the candidate displayed the actual results of their work and the benefits their previous employer gained from it.
Now take a look at this technical resume summary example:
Technical Resume Work Experience
The work experience section is often the most important one on a technical resume. It directly shows recruiters your workplace proficiency and allows them to estimate your skills and technical knowledge.
For that reason, this section should be the main focus of your technical resume. It will usually be in the middle of your resume, and it will take up more space than other sections.
For those reasons, we’ve prepared tips and guidelines on what to include in this section and how to format it right.
For starters, when listing your previous jobs, you should go in reverse-chronological order. Place your latest and most important employment first, and then go backwards from there.
Include your job title, the name and location of the company you worked at, the dates you worked there, and your main responsibilities, results, and accomplishments.
Since this section can feature a lot of content, it’s imperative to use bulleted lists to convey information in a succinct and professional way. Use three to five bullet points for each job you've had before, and include action verbs for the most impact.
Another way to make this section more prominent is to use numbers and percentages. You’re applying for a job in a technical field, so it’s crucial to be precise and, well, technical.
Let’s take a look at a strong and comprehensive work experience section:
The candidate included all the important details and did a great job of listing their most important responsibilities and accomplishments.
Now compare that to the following poorly written work experience section:
This candidate left out important details like job titles, company names, and the dates they worked there. Also, the list of responsibilities and accomplishments features no numbers whatsoever.
No Tech Experience
If you don’t have any professional tech experience, there are still many ways to create a compelling and information-packed resume. In this case, you want to leverage other experiences that could showcase your workplace proficiency.
For example, computer science students can include college projects they worked on. On the other hand, students of architecture might show building projects or urban studies.
Simply include the names of the projects and/or the institutions for which you did the project, as well as the dates and locations. Use bulleted lists to highlight key responsibilities and accomplishments.
You can also include freelance work, volunteer experience, internships, and similar activities. Let’s take a look at an example:
Through freelance and volunteer work, the candidate demonstrated proficiency at website building, as well as marketing, communication, organization skills, and more.
Junior Technical Experience
As a junior in the tech field, you already have some relevant professional experience. Focus on that and try to emphasize your key skills and achievements via bullet points.
You can still include some of the projects, internships, and similar experiences, but there’s no need to list everything like candidates with no professional experience would. Go for quality over quantity.
Check out the following example:
The candidate emphasized their most recent junior position, but they also included a network assistant job that helped them get there.
Senior Technical Experience
If you’re a senior, you likely have years or even decades of work experience in the field. In this situation, your work experience section will probably take up the bulk of space on your tech resume since you’ll have plenty of valuable achievements to include, like in the following example:
Moreover, you could opt for a hybrid-style work experience section that emphasizes your skills and backs them up with relevant accomplishments. Take a look at the example:
Technical Resume Education Section
The education section has a complementary role in your technical resume. Its main strength lies in supporting your work experience and skills. Even though those two are the first sections recruiters will check, education gives you the credentials, further backing your work experience.
For that reason, it’s an essential part of your resume. When listing it, you want to ensure you’ve added all the important bits, which are:
Mandatory Technical Resume Education Section
Your degree name
The school’s name and location
As with your work history, it’s highly recommended to include bullet points with key achievements. For example, if your GPA is very high (3.5 or more), add it to make your education even more prominent.
Furthermore, you can include relevant coursework, extracurricular activities, student exchange programs, notable academic achievements, and so on. Let’s take a look at an example:
Since you’re in a highly specialized field, there’s no need to include your entire academic history. It’s enough to add the latest and most important degree. If you have a Bachelor’s degree, listing your high school diploma is redundant. Or if you have a Master’s degree, the same applies to your Bachelor’s degree (if you want to save space and keep this section short).
What you should do, however, is include your degree, even if it’s unfinished. If you are likely to graduate soon, add “expected” next to the graduation date, and if you’re in the middle of your studies, instead of a graduation date, write “present.” Finally, even if you dropped out of college, it’s worth mentioning how many credits you’ve earned toward the degree.
Technical Resume Skills
Skills are the bread and butter of your technical resume. Depending on your line of work, you’ll have a highly specific set of hard skills and a collection of complementary soft skills.
However, not every skill you have needs to be included in your resume. Your CAD proficiency, for example, might not be as important as your coding knowledge if you’re applying for a job as a software developer.
That’s why it’s crucial to analyze the job posting and the company you’re applying for to find out what they are looking for in candidates. Once you've created a list of your skills that match their requirements, it’s time to include them in your resume.
You should list some of your most important skills all throughout your resume, such as in the resume summary or objective and in the section about your work experience.
However, the majority of your abilities belong in their own section. Add them below your work history and education sections, and make sure to keep soft and hard skills separate since they have different uses.
Hard skills are career-specific, and they can vary greatly even between different positions in the same line of business. Some of them are:
Hard Skills Examples
Soft skills are universal and applicable across a variety of careers. They increase your efficiency and productivity, help you adapt to different situations, make you more flexible, and more. Some of the sought-after soft skills in the tech world are:
Soft Skills Examples
Time management skills
A programmer would include some of the following skills in their technical resume:
Programming Skills Examples
HTML and CSS
Data structures and algorithms
Software Proficiency Skills
Proficiency in particular software is imperative in any tech related field. Some of the skills to list on your resume in this regard are:
Software Proficiency Skills Examples
Adobe Creative Suite
AR & VR
Word processing software
Technical Resume Optional Sections
We talked briefly about how important optional sections are and how they could benefit your technical resume. You should aim to include a few of them, as long as there’s room left after you’ve added the mandatory sections. Even when there’s seemingly not enough space, with a well-formatted resume layout, you can often make some room for the most important bits.
Any relevant certificates obtained in addition to your formal education go a long way toward portraying you as a competent candidate. In addition to emphasizing your skills, certifications show that you go above and beyond what’s necessary and that you strive to learn and achieve more.
To list certifications, add a separate section below your education section. List the names of the certificates, the institutes issuing them, the dates when you obtained them, and, if applicable, their expiration dates.
The importance of language knowledge varies from one field to another. Many tech companies are present in international markets, making the language section mandatory. It’s usually placed below your education section or to the side. But if a job description makes language proficiency a requirement, you should place it higher, maybe even at the top of the document.
When adding language skills, it's important to be honest and say how well you know the language because employers can easily check that. Start by listing the languages that you’re most proficient in, and go down from there.
Hobbies & Interests
Creating a technical resume is almost a scientific endeavor in itself, with the goal of crafting a professional application. Even then, a bit of personalization could help differentiate you from the rest of the candidates. What better way to do that than by talking about your hobbies and interests?
This is the section where you get to be the real you. Include something you’re truly enthusiastic about, and don’t be afraid to go all nerdy. It helps if your hobbies and interests somewhat line up with the position you’re applying for, but that’s not a requirement.
There’s no need to go into too much detail but be prepared for recruiters to strike up a conversation around those topics during the interview.
Do you have many projects that you’re proud of and that you want to show recruiters, but there’s no way to do that using just your resume? In that case, create a portfolio and simply include a link to it in your resume.
If you’re in the creative branch of a technical field, a good portfolio can make or break your application. It allows you to show your work in ways your professional experience section never could. When your resume successfully gets hiring managers to check your portfolio, you’re already well on your way to advancing to further stages of the application process.
Fortunately, including a portfolio link in your technical resume is as simple as it gets. You can add it to your contact information section, or, if you’re printing a hard copy, you can include a sentence such as “See my professional portfolio at [personalwebsite.com].”
Should You Write a Cover Letter for a Technical Role?
Attaching a cover letter to your technical resume shows your dedication to the job application. It’s an optional part that many applicants ignore. Because of that, the fact that you went through the effort of creating it displays diligence and commitment right from the get-go. Simply submitting a cover letter along with your resume puts you ahead of the other candidates.
In essence, a cover letter is one of the best ways to introduce yourself and your resume to recruiters. It needs to be short, catchy, and personal. The goal is to intrigue recruiters and get them to read your application.
In order to do that, you need to write a specific cover letter that matches both the job description and your resume. That’s why you should create a new one for every job you’re applying for.
Luckily, just like with your technical resume, there are rules and guidelines that can help you write a cover letter and optimize it to make the right impression.
Here are the must-have parts of a technical cover letter:
Mandatory Technical Cover Letter Sections
A header with your name and contact information.
A formal greeting. If possible, research the recruiter and address them by their name.
An opening paragraph, where you should aim to grab the recruiter’s attention by displaying your most prominent achievements.
A middle section containing two to three paragraphs where you further talk about your skills and experience. The goal is to stand out from other candidates.
A closing paragraph, where you should aim to leave a lasting impression, display enthusiasm to join their company, and give recruiters an incentive to call you back.
Expert Tips for Creating a Technical Resume
Now that we’ve given you an extensive guide on how to craft an impeccable technical resume, let’s take a look at a few more expert tips to help you perfect your resume:
Technical Resume Tips
Make links in your contact information clickable when you send a digital copy of your resume. That might sound like a minor detail, but it’s convenient for the recruiters and it shows your attention to detail.
Ensure a clear structure with proper formatting and no spelling errors. Not only does it make for a professional technical resume, but it shows your organizational and observational skills.
Make your resume one page long. That’s more than enough space to give recruiters everything they want to see without including fluff and obsolete information. Only if you have extensive experience should you go with more pages.
Write a job-specific cover letter to grab the hiring manager’s attention and show that you can go the extra mile.
Use catchy, tech-related action verbs and power words to display creativity and make your application stand out.
Since you’re in a tech field, include numbers whenever possible to quantify results and make them more tangible.
If you studied at a prominent school (e.g. Caltech or MIT) consider emphasizing that information.
Job Winning Technical Resume Example
And that’s it! You now know every aspect of resume-making, down to the smallest technicality. Look over the rules and guidelines as much as you need to, and use the examples to help you better understand what you've learned. That will help you create the perfect technical resume that no recruiter will be able to resist.
You’re now on your way to becoming a renowned tech specialist. Good luck!