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8 tech interview and resume tips to stand out and get hired

Learn how to tailor your resume, ace tech job interviews, highlight transferable skills, earn certifications, and network effectively to land your dream tech job.

May 16, 2024 • 7 Minute Read

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  • IT Ops
  • Software Development
  • Professional Development
  • Learning & Development

If you want to land a tech job, technical skills aren’t the only thing you need to learn. You also need to know how to stand out with recruiters and secure interviews. And that all starts with your resume.

Dominique West, Manager of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC) at Datadog; Sharōn Prince, Principal Cloud Architect for the US Government; and Jason Montierth, Senior Technical and Product Recruiter at Pluralsight, explain how to tailor your resume for a tech job and showcase the skills hiring managers are looking for. Here are their insider tips.

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Table of contents

You need a resume and interview strategy to overcome tech job market challenges

Layoffs and wider economic conditions have created a competitive tech job market. Put simply, there are more candidates than open roles.

Jason explains how this impacts the recruitment and hiring process. “In the past, I was lucky as a tech recruiter to see 30 to 60 applicants in a week. In the current landscape, I'm seeing hundreds of applicants in the first couple of days after posting a new position,” he said.

“Current market candidates typically need at least 80% of the skills listed on the job description to be considered for the role. And you will see the most success if you are applying for those roles early,” he continued.

Our comprehensive tech resume and interview tip guide

In a saturated job market, intentionally crafting your resume and being one of the first applicants can help you stand out from the crowd. But how exactly do you tailor your resume for tech careers? And once you land an interview, how should you prepare?

Even if you don’t have a traditional tech background, these tips will help you put your best foot forward.

1. Analyze tech job descriptions

When building your tech resume for certain roles or organizations, read through the job descriptions. These descriptions give you a good idea of the technical skills, experience, and values recruiters and hiring managers are looking for. You can then tailor your resume and relevant experience to align with these requirements.

For example, can you show your background working with their preferred tech stack? Do you have previous experience in a similar work environment? 

Jason suggested creating a general resume and tailoring it to match specific roles and companies based on their job descriptions. “[Create] a general application resume that lists out what you're building, what your role was, why the organization wanted it built, and how you built it,” he said. “This should include what technologies, languages, libraries, frameworks, and tools were used in the build.” 

Learn how to write a technical resume and showcase tech skills for a resume.

2. Identify and use tech resume keywords

It’s important to understand how recruiters and hiring managers use keywords. Most organizations use human recruiters, AI-powered recruitment tools, or a combination of both to scan resumes and identify promising candidates. Human recruiters and AI resume scanners alike rely on keywords throughout their assessment.

“Technical recruiters are not subject matter experts in every role that they work on,” explained Jason. “They will be relying on your resume to show them how you are a match for the position based on the information listed within the job description. Industry jargon can sometimes be overlooked, so make sure you are building your resume in a way that technical and semi-technical individuals can understand it.”

As a bonus, paying attention to keywords for resumes can also help you upskill. “Perhaps you're looking to get a more senior role, or perhaps you're looking to switch industries,” said Dominique. “Those keywords that you find in [the job] search are also helpful for you to learn, like, ‘Hey, what are employers looking for? And then what skills should I build upon? How do I use that to upskill or to maybe go take a course?’”

3. Highlight transferable skills for tech jobs

If you don’t have a traditional college degree or technical background, you may struggle to identify relevant technical skills for tech roles. But as long as you have experience in any industry, you have transferable skills for tech jobs. You just need to translate that experience to the job description in the right language.

“You're talking about project management, or you might be talking about skills that kind of apply across the board that perhaps you just need to tweak a little bit to showcase to your recruiter,” said Dominique. “Like, ‘Hey, this is work that aligns directly with this role but perhaps doesn't look the same.’ 

“My stakeholders might not be technical engineers. They might have been students, or they might have been my colleagues or different kinds of peers at different levels. And so it's just tailoring that audience and doing perhaps some courses or building a portfolio to showcase ‘Here's how I'm taking personal accountability to upskill myself to show how I can align with this role.’”

4. Earn tech certifications to validate your technical knowledge

Certifications are a great way to highlight your tech experience if you don’t have a traditional tech background or want to augment anything on your resume. 

Sharōn explained three ways certifications helped him along his tech journey. First, they show proof of your tech knowledge. “Any time people see that you have a certification, they automatically treat that with respect and assume you know at least a decent amount about the subject matter,” he said. “In my experience, it quite literally opens a door of approval.”

Certifications can also show you’re willing to learn and work hard to advance your career. “Getting certifications also shows motivation, and that speaks volumes to employers, leaders, teams, management, anyone,” explained Sharōn. “Employers want to hire and work with motivated people who are growing.”

Lastly, earning certifications helps build confidence in your skills. “You've learned and developed your skill in a way that you can more fully do your work and execute work in your role. . . . Gaining certifications gave me confidence I needed to do more than I ever thought I was capable of,” said Sharōn.

Explore Pluralsight’s certification prep courses.

5. Gain hands-on tech experience with online courses and real-world tech problems

Certs can be helpful, but sitting down and studying for exams won’t be for everyone. Another way to showcase tech skills is with hands-on experience. As Sharōn said, “Do whatever it takes to gain real experience in addition to or beyond a classroom.”

Initiatives like the cloud resume challenge are one way to meet practical experience requirements, develop cloud computing skills, and network at the same time. Some online courses also include hands-on labs, where you can practice and apply new skills.

6. Practice common technical interview questions

Interviews are your chance to demonstrate soft skills and other qualities that a piece of paper can’t capture. Make sure you’re prepared for them!

“What stands out to me is when somebody's done their research,” said Jason. “They understand what company they're coming into. They understand what they're applying for. And they're able to speak [to that] and put their resume into the context of the position that they're applying for. 

“When I connect with you and the answer is, ‘I don't know about your company. I applied to a bunch of roles. This is a random position that I'm getting a call for,’ you're shutting yourself out. You're locking yourself out of the organization.”

Learn how to ace your interview with our Resumes, Job Seeking, and Interviews in Context online course.

7. Showcase soft skills and passion for tech

Why do you want a tech job? What excites you about cloud computing, cybersecurity, or software development? Find that passion and bring it with you to interviews. 

“You can train for skill, but you can't train for the person that's gonna be excited and ready to be ready for an opportunity. So make sure you're coming into your interviews personable. You're coming in trying to make a good impression,” said Jason.

Other qualities can help you stand out. Dominique highlighted the importance of productivity and curiosity. “It's okay to say, ‘Hey, I don't know. I haven't had that experience. But here's maybe how I would think about it,’” she added.

Uncover the soft skills needed for today’s tech workforce.

8. Network and build tech community connections

Last, but certainly not least, don’t underestimate the value of networking for tech careers. 

“References are highly valued at almost every organization I've ever worked at. So if you build the right network and the right relationships with people, and you're able to get a reference, and you have that good network, it will translate into job opportunities. It will translate into interviews,” said Jason.

“Whether it is by attending a meetup or a conference in your domain, get yourself in front of people in that field,’ advised Sharōn. “To be honest, most of the opportunities and the people that I have that are helping me as of today, the references I get, these are all coming from my previous employers and the relationships that I have with them.”

There’s a personal aspect to building new relationships, too. “I've made a ton of friends through this field by just going to meetups or engaging in conversations on LinkedIn,” said Dominique. “[Community will] help you not only with your resume and interviews but really long in your career.”

Get all the resume and interview tips for tech roles

To hear all of Dominique, Sharōn, and Jason’s tech resume and interview tips, watch their discussion on demand.

Ready to start building your tech skills today? Start a free trial of Pluralsight Skills.

Pluralsight Content Team

Pluralsight C.

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