Here's what Chicago tech companies really look for on your resume (and what they don't)

February 9, 2017

Most job applications are submitted digitally these days, but your resume still has to fit on a single sheet of paper. So how do you make the best possible use of that precious real estate?

We asked some of Chicago's hottest tech companies what they're looking for while thumbing through stacks of resumes — and what you can get rid of to make room for more of the good stuff.

 

Procured Health leverages data analytics to help healthcare providers make better decisions about how to spend their money and resources. To senior director of analytics Anuj Kapoor, clear examples of how you've taken initiative and followed through is the most important feature of a strong resume.

What are the most important things you want to see on an applicant's resume?

Besides technical skills, I’m looking for a track record of leadership. Our roles at Procured give the employee a lot of responsibility and autonomy, and a track record of leadership helps demonstrate their ability to succeed in a challenging and rewarding role.

What are some things applicants put on their resumes that they'd be better off removing?

Two things: anytime someone describes their qualities, such as ‘attention to detail,’ we tend to ignore it. Our interview process aims to find proof of these qualities in people. Second, you don’t need to describe every work experience or extracurricular activity in significant detail. Normally I pay most attention to the top one or two work experiences and read the top one or two bullet points under each. A typical resume read takes 30 seconds, so anything an applicant can do to allow the reader to find the most important points is appreciated.

 

Reverb.com is a leading online marketplace for new and used instruments and other music equipment. Director of talent Gina Contella’s biggest piece of advice for jobseekers is to get rid of as much generic information as possible, and focus on specific achievements instead.

What are the most important things you want to see on an applicant's resume?

A good employee — whether they’re a developer, a customer service specialist or a marketer — understands how his or her work impacts the business as a whole. When I review resumes, I look for applicants who demonstrate this understanding by clearly outlining the impact they personally made in their previous roles. That means avoiding generic bullet points that read like a job description and instead focusing on, for example, a proactive solution he or she brought to the table. Candidates who nail this on their resumes are typically strong communicators. Plus, a more informative resume allows us to have a more in-depth conversation during our initial call.

What are some things applicants put on their resumes that they'd be better off removing?

Many candidates include generic mission statements that don’t communicate anything about their experiences, goals or understanding of the position for which they’re applying. On a resume on which you’re trying to cram several years of experience, this takes up precious real estate. Ultimately, your resume should provide a concise narrative about your career experience and how that experience aligns with the position. In an effort to achieve this goal, a generic mission statement is unnecessary.

 

PowerReviews makes ratings, reviews and Q&A software that helps companies improve their products and the customer's experience. Manager of talent acquisition Megan Kovach said she likes to see resumes that show an applicant's strengths without glossing over their weaknesses.

What are the most important things you want to see on an applicant's resume?

At PowerReviews we look for people who exemplify our core values. They're transparent with the information they provide — sharing both wins and losses, what they know and don't know. We feel there is something to be learned from failure — did you hit quarterly goals, products that failed or were delayed and what you did about it, and that you improved a pretty terrible NPS score into an impressive one. We are looking for individuals who are accountable and aren't afraid to raise their hand when a tough task comes up. Our employees are constantly pitching in, tracking their progress and measuring, iterating and improving in their roles.

What are some things applicants put on their resumes that they'd be better off removing?

As for things that we dislike seeing on a resume, I'd say, first and foremost, grammar and spelling mistakes. But that's a bit of a no-brainer for most recruiters and hiring managers. Additionally, I really would prefer all resumes delete the objective statement. Take the open space to tell me more about what you've accomplished, volunteer work you do outside of your 9-to-5 or technology you've used that will be applicable to the role. PowerReviews is a very civic-minded and collaborative company. We are looking for candidates who fit our culture. The open space is a great place to tell us a little more about your personality.

 

Strike Social helps companies stretch their video advertising budgets further by optimizing where and when ads run. For technical hires, CEO and co-founder Patrick McKenna said he cares a lot more about the useful products they've created than the technologies they've dabbled in.

What are the most important things you want to see on an applicant's resume?

I like to see what they have built. I don't put too much weight on them using the newest shiniest toy. I want to see what they have built and stuff that works. I want to know what they have learnt from their experiences. I want to know what personal projects they have worked on, and that they have gotten out of their comfort zones to learn something new.

What are some things applicants put on their resumes that they'd be better off removing?

Certifications and GPAs for candidates who are three-to-four years or more out of college. [Other items include] buzzwords that refer to the latest technologies, and laundry lists of programming languages and frameworks.

 

Sertifi streamlines the process of closing a sale by making it easier to accept signatures and receive payments online. Director of technology Michael Dragilev said it's important to highlight relevant experience, and to use cover letters effectively if that relevance won't be immediately obvious from your resume.

What are the most important things you want to see on an applicant's resume?

The important things I look for on the resume are clarity and relevancy. Resumes that are inbound are reviewed by people, so readability of the resume is important. People who take time to organize their thoughts and highlight what is important for the position they are looking for, get a lot more of my time. With relevancy, it is just seeing if the experience, skills or education align with the job description. Some people know that their experience does not align with what they are applying for and they write letters trying to explain how what they learned before translates into what is on our job description. I almost always read the letters in that case, it really stands out from applications where it is clear that people are mass applying to anything. For entry level positions, there is more emphasis on education, internships, school projects and work samples (from personal or school projects).

What are some things applicants put on their resumes that they'd be better off removing?

Stated objectives, irrelevant work experience, and a giant list of languages and programs the person has used is unimportant to me. The giant keyword-driven lists seem prevalent for technical positions. Skills are important with the context they were used in and should highlight what you bring to the table. If someone is applying to be a web application developer, it is nice that they can use Outlook, but that doesn’t tell me anything about them except that they decided that Outlook was an important skill to highlight. GPA is not terribly important if there is anything else that is relevant on the resume. Other things that do not belong on resumes are smiley faces, marital status next to a profile picture and typos.

 

Images via participating companies.

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