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Spotlight hot skills on your resume

December 17, 2012 06:00 AM ET

Superior Analytical and Quantitative Skills

Postings for business intelligence and analytics jobs naturally call for quantitative and analytic capabilities because those positions require mathematical expertise. But hiring managers may also list such skills in other IT job postings in hopes of finding good thinkers, says Rachel Russell, director at TEKsystems, an IT staffing firm in Hanover, Md.

They "want someone who can identify the root cause of issues and recommend solutions that apply to the business," Russell says.

How do you know you've got it?

Consider how you approach problem-solving, Russell says. Do you come up with multiple solutions and present them along with the pros and cons of each? When the business asks for help finding a solution, do you ask why they're asking so you can better understand the problem? When asked to pull data, do you learn why it's needed so you can present the data in a way that offers a holistic view of the information for the person who requested it?

If you answered yes to these questions, then you've got the mindset that hiring managers want.

To show that on your resume, Russell recommends listing accomplishments that highlight your approach. "Describe how you used the skills [by mentioning] the projects you've supported and the impact you know you've had on the business," she says.

Ability to Innovate, Passion for Problem-solving

When it comes to recognizing and promoting their ability to innovate, IT workers often sell themselves short, says Amar Panchal, CEO of Akraya, an IT staffing firm in Sunnyvale, Calif.

"Writing code is creative. You can write code in five different ways. You can use the same language in five different ways to write a poem, but only when you use the words in the right way does the poem sound good. Writing a code in an optimum way is just like writing a good poem," he says.

Consider how you approached an assignment and whether your contribution made a difference. Have you written code that improved an application's performance or a business user's ability to do a task? If you have, "that shows creativity -- that you see there's a better way to do something," Panchal says.

Also, list the ways you've been recognized for that kind of thinking, such as winning a corporate award. "If I see a resume that says 'nominated' or 'won' these kinds of awards, it shows me that they're not just following instructions," Panchal says.

He says he also looks for IT people who have applied for or gotten a patent, published an article, written blogs or are contributors to user forums -- all of which he considers proof points of an innovative professional.

Career Strategy

4 Resume Tips for 2013

1. Tailor your resume to each job posting. "You want to make sure you're highlighting the skills that are important for that position," says Mark Relf, an instructor at Computer Systems Institute.

2. Keep it short. Although resume length will vary depending on how long you've worked and how senior you are, two pages is about right for most people, says Michael Crom, executive vice president at Dale Carnegie Training.

3. Think of your LinkedIn profile as a public resume. "It shouldn't be a duplicate of your resume, but it should match, because recruiters are checking LinkedIn profiles, how many people you're connected to, what groups you're in, what books you read. That tells them a lot about you that your resume doesn't," says Michael P. Brooks Sr., regional account executive at Kforce Professional Staffing.

4. Solicit recommendations for your LinkedIn profiles. Putting "references upon request" at the bottom of your resume is dated, says Rick Endres, president of The Washington Network.

Mary K. Pratt

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