3 tech resume tips to get seen by the hiring manager

I recently reviewed a handful of resumes for friends and mentees, and I saw the same pattern in each. I have seen the pattern hundreds of times now, and that’s great! That means it’s time to write it down.

Before we get to the details, a reminder: the first test of a resume is getting a callback from the recruiter and moving on to the hiring manager. With that in mind, you have to watch out for being filtered out for being (a) uninteresting, (b) seemingly unqualified, or (c) seemingly a bad fit. Said in a positive framing, we want to be (a') interesting, (b') seemingly qualified, and (c') seemingly a good fit!

1. Get your pitch down

I use seemingly above because you could be perfectly qualified and a perfect fit, but your resume can pitch you the wrong way.

A good pitch is a one-liner that helps job hunters effectively message who they are and what they do well. I got into it on The Geek Whisperers and I’ve seen gotten really into helping people dial in their pitch.

Here’s mine: I’m a technical community builder. I love connecting with technology communities to develop products and organic content to inspire open source adoption.

When I need to put together a resume, I have this pitch at the top of my PDF, right under my name and above my Career section. I have had a lot of luck with it, but more importantly, a diverse group of mentees across many races, genders, ages, and experience levels have all had a lot of luck with it as well.

1a. Get specific to the job

If I were to chase a specific job title, I’ll angle my pitch that direction. For example, my technical community builder pitch shifts a bit if I were to pursue a Product Management role at a Cloud-centric company:

Community advocate passionate about designing meaningful systems to elevate interpersonal connection. Seeking opportunity to further product management craftsmanship and learn cloud through daily use.

No one seems to complain about my incomplete sentences, and it gives a hiring manage a ton of context about me that I want them to have.

2. Get to the business value in your bullets

The heart of your career-oriented resume is your career section (or Experience, Work History - whatever you call it), yet so many people forget to keep pitching themselves here. I more or less follow the:

Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z]

Formula. Get specific and be crisp about your business value as I go into detail in this post.

2a Get into the technical bits

Go from:

Maintained a wide range of Linux systems for production environments.

To something like:

Kept over 1,000 RHEL 8 Linux servers running in AWS and on-premises at 5 nines uptime supporting $400m in revenue.

Don’t settle for generic work. Be as specific about the technology as is warranted for the work you want to highlight. It is what interviewers will end up zooming in on to ask thoughtful questions. List the stuff you want to be asked about.

3. Build in keywords with competencies

Getting to an interview usually means getting past application tracking systems (ATS) as well as a deserning eye of a recruiter. To do so, use a a competencies section. It will help you outline a ton of specifics that you can’t (or shouldn’t try to) fit into your Career section yet it will catch the robotic eye of ATS.

Here’s an example from a Data Engineer coming from a webdev background that I mentored.


  • Programming languages: Ruby, Python, JavaScript, Java, Python
  • Data management: Hadoop, Teradata, Spark, Tableau, Airflow, SQL, HiveQL, PySpark, Jupyter Notebooks
  • Frameworks: React.js, Ruby on Rails, Redux.js
  • Cloud: AWS Redshift, S3, EC2, EKS, Teradata BevMo Cloud
  • Systems: Linux (Fedora, Ubuntu, CentOS), SQL Server
  • Productivity: GitHub, Git, Markdown, JIRA, Confluence, Google Drive, Slack, Postman

Get creative with sections to get your point across.

The big picture

No matter how early or late you are in your career, it sucks to job hunt. It’s exhausting to constantly pitch yourself through pen and paper, negotiate to get paid fairly, and be energic in every communication. That said, there are thankfully good formulas and known skills to help you get further than you would on your own.

If you’re actively looking, I put together a helpful spreadsheet system I call the Job Hunting Pipeline Blueprint. Let me know if it works for you by saying hello on Twitter.