Successful non-technical technical resumes

I was recently asked for resume advice by a developer who is applying for a new position that requires some management skill and experience, and thought that it might be interesting to a wider audience.

Because even though you’re a technical person, and you do technical work … your resume should not necessarily be technical. Especially if you’re going up the food chain a little into – ugh – project management.

What you are trying to do is sell yourself to $boss. When you are selling something, it’s always a good idea to understand the product, but it’s a better idea to understand the customer.

In this case, understanding the customer means understanding what matters to $boss, in what order of priority. To understand that, you have to both put yourself in $boss’ shoes, and you have to ask questions.

I can speculate about what $boss wants, and I’ll list a few things, but your best chance to is get in touch with $boss when you can, and spend a few minutes on the phone with him. Just ask questions, and listen. This also gives you a personal connection with $boss that will stand you in good stead as you enter the interview process.

Some of things that I think will matter to $boss include:

– how does your past history indicate that you have managed projects and people before?
– how will this department work with other departments in the future?
– why is hiring you not a risk for me?
– what management style will you adopt?
– how global is your sense of all that $this_company does?
– what does it mean to you to no longer be coding all the time and instead managing at least part-time?
– can you communicate technical things to non-technical people?

It’s all about crafting a story that is truthful, hangs together, and compellingly presents the case that your history, your experience, and your personal attributes all together add up to a package that will blow $boss’ mind in terms of performance from this department. If you’re any good, you have the elements of a compelling story, but you need to present the things in each project you’ve worked on in order to SHOW that.

Not that my resume is the be-all and end-all, but take a look at my resume online:
John Koetsier’s resume

Notice the focus on accomplishments, and the presentation of everything in terms of business objectives and achievements. So, an example of this might be that “networking an office” is not in your resume, but “building a network to allow computers to exchange business information, enabling employees to have access to needed data quicker and easier.”

This is just an example. And you have to be careful that you don’t talk about “digging implements” when you’re actually talking about shovels. It’s got to be real.

But you have to speak the language of business. $boss is a businessman. $boss doesn’t know, and doesn’t really care, about technical mumbo-jumbo and languages and protocols and networking and so forth. What $boss wants to know is: can I rely on this person to run this department efficiently and effectively?

And, if I hire this person, will it turn into a problem for me later?

I hope this helps.