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Spotlight hot skills on your resume

December 17, 2012 06:00 AM ET

Excellent Communication Skills

Although technical folks have a reputation for being introverted and prone to using techno-babble, you may have the communication skills hiring managers are seeking. In fact, many IT professionals have had to develop and employ communication skills as part of their everyday jobs. They just fail to recognize that and don't highlight it on their resumes.

"A lot of technical individuals have a tremendous amount of certifications. They showcase that they know how to perform those tasks, but they don't show how they're able to communicate with folks," says Mark Relf, a networking career program instructor at Computer Systems Institute (CSI), a post-secondary education provider in Illinois and Massachusetts.

Look at past jobs for proof: If you've worked on a help desk where you've coached users through troubleshooting exercises, recapped for your colleagues what you learned at a conference, written a request for proposals or briefed business partners on an IT project, then you have communication experience, says Robert Howden, also a networking career program instructor at CSI.

If that sounds like you, Relf recommends adding "communications" to your resume and briefly detailing such experiences.

Strong Interpersonal Skills, Peer Relationships

When HR manager Fran Peters is trying to fill an IT position, she looks for the ability to work well with others in addition to strong technical skills.

Peters, who works at SWC Technology Partners, an IT solutions company in Oak Brook, Ill., says IT folks might hesitate to claim they have strong interpersonal skills because they don't have training in subjects like business communication, but there are several professional experiences that tell her a candidate does indeed possess such skills.

For one thing, she looks for people who have been members or leaders of teams, because successfully completing a project as part of a team is difficult unless you learn to work well with others. She also looks for IT pros with consulting experience, because that usually indicates that they've interacted with clients.

The bottom line, according to IT leaders and hiring managers, is that job seekers need to not only list what they know but also show what they can do.

IT workers likely gain more experience than they realize in the various projects they work on, and they can transfer that expertise from one job to another, experts say. But their resumes have to show hiring managers they've got what it takes. As Howden advises: Put your accomplishments front and center.

Next: Find IT jobs in the cloud

Pratt is a Computerworld contributing writer in Waltham, Mass. Contact her at

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