Quality Resume Guide

A Quality Resume Guide for Technical Writers

– Mohan Raghuram

We love minimalism, use the industry leading documentation authoring tools, technologies, style guides, and adopt the KISS (Keep it Structured and Short) rule to create technical and end-user documentation for software and hardware products. As Technical Writers (TW) and Information Developers, we have an advantage over job seekers from other streams considering our language and writing expertise, but do we really take advantage of it when we pitch our resume to new related jobs? The answer is : NO!

75% of resumes don’t pass the resume screening round, irrespective of whether the companies you apply to use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software. Even if the resume passes the ATS, the content fails to impress the hiring manager. What are the reasons for not going past the first hurdle despite having the necessary experience and ingredients of a TW?

Let’s investigate and convert your experience to a Quality Resume Guide (QRG) under 2 pages!

Troubleshooting Writing Guideline Errors and Expectations

When applying to TW jobs, the core expectation of the documentation hiring manager is to read a good structured resume under 2 pages, similar to a Quick Reference Guide written to sell a software.

More often than not, the reality looks different which leads to an immediate rejection. Ask any TW hiring manager and they may point to the following red flags for a candidate’s resume being rejected:

  • Grammatical, language, and voice usage errors.
  • Parallelism inconsistency.
  • Using Numbered List instead of Bulleted List, acronyms, and technical jargons.
  • Inability to create a simple sentence.
  • Basic content guidelines not followed.
  • “The resume has silly typos. Is it that difficult to do a spell check irrespective of the tool used to create the resume?”
  • “5 lines without any stoppage which is confusing to read but can be easily trimmed to 2 lines or less. If a TW cannot make it simple, who can?”
  • “Value additions are mentioned but hasn’t showcased the problem and solution that resulted in the value add. A TW should know better on describing the result at the end of a procedure.”
  • “The font size is so small that I would need a microscope to read it. A TW cannot make such a grave user readability mistake to fit content.”
  • “Technical, soft, and domain skills jumbled in one section. It is imperative for a TW to break content into small chunks.”

Differentiating your Roles and Acheivments

You might have played several writer roles across companies from an individual contributor, team lead, editor to project manager. It is easy to state these obvious roles and responsibilities but tricky to convert the obvious to quantifiable achievements to catch the attention of a hiring manager. Hence, it is critical to understand this difference to transform your resume from a standard read to an increased attention span to differentiate yourself against 100+ candidates. So, how can you try to achieve this?

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Good Governance

Similar to a DDLC process, building a resume not only requires time and patience but a process to follow if you are targeting a desired job or company. So, it is important to build a self-review checklist for better results. It is fine to get an expert to review your resume but remember, you must bring the flavor.

  • Pick an ATS template to help structure and optimize your content under 2 pages. Check out Novoresume and Zety to pick good resume templates. The biggest game changer though is JobScan that gives an excellent insight of your resume fitment against a JD.
  • Never underestimate the Professional Summary section. Imagine writing a synopsis of a novel.
  • Make every sentence in the Work Experience section unique to keep the reader engaged.
  • Remove insignificant data that doesn’t add value to the overall weight of your resume.
  • The target reader shouldn’t be restricted to a documentation hiring manager but should also be presentable to product stakeholders.
 

Note:
Click here to view the recording of the webinar Building Impactful Technical Writing Resume.

About the Author

Mohan Raghuram is a curious technical writer for more than a decade trying to engage product documentation audience. Besides specializing in macro photography (popularly known as McGun) and love for the 22-yard cricket pitch, he swears by excel more than a calculator, dreams of playing ping-pong 24*7 and skating across the world in 365 days.

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