“Building a Technical Resume: Workshop”: Korene Stuart, Director of Programming at G{Code} (Video + Transcript)

March 19, 2023

Korene Stuart (Director of Programming at G{Code}) gives you the tools and resources to create a technical resume that highlights everything you have to offer!


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Sukrutha Bhadouria: All right. Hi everyone. Welcome. We have an amazing speaker here, Korene Stuart is the Director of Programming at G{Code}. She volunteered for Black Girls Code Miami, then became Tech Lead, hoping to increase the number of underrepresented women enter into tech careers. That’s so amazing. She has facilitated career and scholarship workshops at Girl Develop It.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: We’re so excited to welcome Korene, who will lead a workshop on building a technical resume. This is so important. All of us struggle with it, especially when we’ve been in the workforce for a certain amount of time, or even when we just graduated. So Korene, your session’s going to be super important for all of us.

Korene Stuart: Hopefully, hopefully I can give a lot of gems and people can walk away knowing exactly how to start their resume. So, <laugh>, thank you so much, Sukrutha. I really appreciate the welcome. Thank you. Thank you. I’m gonna start sharing my screen. So welcome everyone.

Korene Stuart: Welcome to building your technical resume. My name is Korene Stuart, and I am a director of programming at G{Code}. A little bit about me. I taught myself coding at first through freeCodeCamp and then went on to a nonprofit bootcamp and then became a programmer eventually getting into project and program management.

Korene Stuart: It was a contrasting journey for me through and through, as I did not know anyone in tech. When I decided to begin prepping for a career in tech, I only wish that I had received this information when I was starting out. It would’ve been a easier transition for me. I have spent a significant time around career preparation and have worked hand in hand with recruiters.

Korene Stuart: This presentation is the culmination of information I’ve acquired over the 10 years, and this has helped my mentees tremendously. Before we go on, I just want to say you are here because you want to invest in yourself and it requires time and effort and introspection to become your best self. So please take a moment to give yourself a hug for the great job that you’re doing. Let’s just get into it.

Korene Stuart: What is a technical resume? A resume is a snapshot of a person’s professional background, education, certifications, and work experience. But a technical resume has to specifically emphasize technical skills. It should include your technical expertise and knowledge in various areas such as programming languages, databases, software development methodologies, networking, and other technical domains.

Korene Stuart: It should include details about your specific projects, certifications that you hold, and other relevant technical accomplishments. This resume should be a succinct story about your past work life and a hint at what you desire for your future work life. And we’ll get into that a little bit later.

types of resumes reverse chronological functional combination korene stuart

Korene Stuart: All right, so these are the three types of resumes that you can use. There’s a whole host of different resume templates that you can use, but these are the three that recruiters are used to seeing. You have reverse chronological resume, functional resume and combination resume, and I’ll be giving a brief explanation of what they are and show you what they look like.

Korene Stuart: This is the reverse chronological resume. These resumes are the most frequently used. Most recruiters expect to see these. They’re easier to read. These resumes start by listing each of your past jobs and reverse order your recent position being first. And then for each job title you would provide the employer employment year, and the basic requirements or accomplishments of each job. You would also provide performance figures wherever possible.

Korene Stuart: This is a functional resume. This resume focuses on a person’s skills and abilities rather than their chronological work history. It’s used when there are gaps in employment history, or when a person is changing careers and wants to highlight transferrable skills.

Korene Stuart: It helps a person stand out from other candidates by emphasizing their unique skills and experiences rather than just your work history. And it starts by listing your core competencies or areas of expertise and talent. It will then follow up with a short summary of past job titles.

Korene Stuart: Here we have the combination formatted resume, which showcases both skills and experience equally, downplays employment gaps shows career progression by providing a chronological work history and can target specific job postings through tailoring to specific job postings by emphasizing skills and experiences that are most relevant to the job.

Korene Stuart: With this resume, you demonstrate that you have the right industry transferrable skills, even if you haven’t actually had the title. As you can see, the format allows more for space for skills and the description for those skills more so than the chronological resume. All right.

Korene Stuart: Now for today’s session, we’re just gonna be focusing on the standard reverse chronological resume, the one that everyone’s used to seeing, and all that entails. Even if you were to start with this reverse chronological resume, you find that maybe you just don’t have enough to really tell your story through it. You can always kind of funnel that into a different resume.

Korene Stuart: Let’s pretend we are building our resume and I suggest you start with a blank document instead of a template, and I’ll tell you why in a bit and why that’s important. First, most likely when applying for technical positions, your resume will be going into an ATS, and ATS stands for applicant tracking system. It sorts through resumes, scans for keywords, and generates a score based on the number of hits.

Korene Stuart: It’s best to create your resume from scratch and use the enter and tab keys to set your spacing resume. Templates often contain columns, headers, footers, and text boxes. And the ATS has a hard time reading fancy formatting. If you’ve never created a resume before and have no clue where to start, you would simply just search online for simple resume examples.

Korene Stuart: I am going to give you or provide to you a supplement that will give you a link to some of the documents that I have in my bank so that you can use them in case you can’t find a very simple resume to kind of mimic after. And you can mimic the simple rresumes organization with basic spacing and alignment tweaks on your word processing program, whether that’s Word or through another program.

Korene Stuart: If you absolutely must use a template, then go to one without columns, rows, text boxes, and other complicated features or colors. The easiest and cheapest way to build a resume is to use a free template from a popular document processor or job search engine such as Google Docs, LinkedIn, or Indeed,.

Korene Stuart: Whether you use a template or start from scratch you would save your document as Word or PDF. Okay. So for resumes that won’t be scanned by software, you don’t have to be as careful about making it ATS-friendly. However, your resume’s format should still be simple. A complicated layout that’s hard to follow will turn off hiring managers – I have seen it myself.

Korene Stuart: Now if you’re pursuing a more creative role, I always suggest that you have two resumes, one that you can send through the ATS and one you can send to the hiring manager. And if you’ve never really applied for jobs, I can tell you that usually, you can send your resume through the ATS or any other system that they have, but then usually the recruiter or someone who’s talking to you preliminarily, they will ask for you to send them your resume again, ok?

Korene Stuart: All right. And be sure to choose a clean, current, and easy-to-read font. I would say choose sans-serif fonts that are easy to read, like Arial and Helvetica. For font size, go with 11 to 12 points. Depending on how much you are attempting to fit on one page, the lowest you should go is 10 points. For emphasis, make section headings by setting them just one point bigger than your general content. And now what do we do at the beginning, right?

building your technical resume start with your name

Korene Stuart: Because it’s already overwhelming thinking about all the stuff that you have to put together. I always say put your name first, <laugh> email address, and phone number at the top. When starting your resume, it may seem intimidating. The first thing I would start with is putting your name at the top. That’s it. For some reason, it just seems to ease things a little bit. From there, type your name and contact information at the top.

Korene Stuart: Center it in a large font size, such as 14 or 16 points. Skip your address. You can include just your city and state, your email and phone number. And depending on your role, you might want to put the link to your portfolio. Put your margins at one inch on each side for more space. You can then reduce them, but not smaller than half an inch, and that would only be for the top and bottom.

Korene Stuart: Keeping the margin rules will lessen the chance of your information being cut off due to incompatibility. You won’t really have that problem though if you do it in a PDF so I always save mine as PDFs. I suggest everyone does the same. Please make sure that your email address is professional, such as a combination of name, initials and numbers.

Korene Stuart: I always say that remember that you are a walking brand. The best way for a recruiter to remember your name is to see it. My email has always included my name. The last time I had an email without my name, it was, and you would never guess, okay, in high school I had hotsuga@yahoo.com. Okay, but I no longer have that. It’s not available, so don’t email me there. And please don’t use your current work email or work number on your resume for obvious reasons. And if you are a student, do not use your university email because you may eventually lose access to it. Okay? All right.

Korene Stuart: Now you’re gonna organize your content in order of importance. After starting with your name and contact information, we’re gonna go on to the rest of the content. You will prioritize your key skills and knowledge and experience, your strongest projects. Strongest projects. Most resumes are in reverse chronological order, but don’t use that if your prior experience is more irrelevant than your current position. You can use another method like a combination or functional resume that I’ve shown you previously and that you can get that template from the document that I’m gonna provide to you.

Korene Stuart: Towards the top, under your contact information, you should write a heading, which could be summary or objective. You don’t have to actually write summary objective – you can just write it. It is up to you. But this is where you would write your professional statement, and I think that it’s really great to have a professional statement.

Korene Stuart: I think that when recruiters see professional statements, their eyes go right to it because if you’re able to really kick out a really great professional statement, it summarizes your whole resume. It just makes things easier for recruiters. Okay. You’ll use an objective in your resume if you’re straight out of a college or want to bring attention to the fact that you wanna transition to a new role. For example, you’re moving from a position of teaching to front end web development.

Korene Stuart: After professional statement, we’re gonna move on to your work history. You can name it “professional experience”, “relevant experience”, or “work history”. After experiences, you would then have a heading title “education” or “education and training” or “education certifications”, whichever is more relevant to your resume.

Korene Stuart: It’s important for you to use spacing, bold, italics, underlining and adding capitalization consistently. To add for your headings, select a slightly bigger font size than your general content and set them to bold. Capitalizing them can also make your content stand out. As for your subheadings, such as company names and positions held, use bold and italics to set these apart from general content.

Korene Stuart: You can come up with your own ways to emphasize sections and headings, but make sure you are consistent. If you bold a name of a company name, all other organizations must appear in bold. If you italicize a position, all other positions held must be italicized. Okay?

Korene Stuart: Now we’re gonna begin to kind of destruct the headings. Highlight your strengths in the summary or objective. It’s good to include key words that will generate hits on the tracking software, and make sure that your keywords are coming straight from the job description. It should be one or two sentences that highlight your experiences, key skills, and traits.

Korene Stuart: If you have issues coming up with a summary, write your experience section first. It will help you come up with ideas. For instance, you could write systems administrator with over two years experience in network security database management, IT infrastructure, provide specifics, but it must be concise and avoid using excessive adjectives. For instance, experience, hardworking, detail oriented, it’s just too wordy. Avoid vague objectives such as looking for an opportunity to grow.

Korene Stuart: They will list your technical abilities in a skills bank. I also provide that for you in my supplemental documents that I’ll be be providing for you. People often struggle with trying to come up with skills bank, but if you keep that record throughout the time that you’re working, you’ll find that it’s so much easier.

Korene Stuart: On a technical resume, a key skills section is vital. List your skills in a bank for quick, quick reference and to generate ATS hits, then detail how you’ve put them to use in your experience section. Organize your skill bank and subcategories if possible, such as operating systems, software, and programming languages. Look at the job description and use the keywords from there. Be careful to only include abilities you actually have and use. If you have basics, then say that. But if you haven’t used Java for a while, please do not include it. Only include your most relevant experience instead of your entire work history.

Korene Stuart: Use strong action words and measurable quantities to describe how you’ve utilized your skills. In technical fields, using jargon is sometimes unavoidable, but you should not use it unnecessarily. Include key facts in each experience, subheading, the title of your position, the name of the company, the city and state of your office, the start and end month and year.

Korene Stuart: Use bullet points under each position. If you can, quantify and list the most relevant job responsibilities. Let me go back up to the bullet points. Please use bullet points. It makes it easier to read, instead of everything just looking like a paragraph pushed together. White space is very important on the resume, and I know that if you have a lot of experience or education, it’s tempting to put it all on there, but just be careful that it doesn’t look like a cluttered mess – it can be very overwhelming to read.

Korene Stuart: Using bullet points helps the reader to keep track of what they’ve read, even when scanning the application. Use strong verbs such as “designed” or “implemented” instead of “writing”, “responsible for” or “duties include”. Write verbs in present tense for current jobs. Use past tense for prior experience.

Korene Stuart: Make sure to emphasize measurable accomplishments instead of just listing duties. Focus your content on actions results and how you made a difference in past positions. It can be really hard to think of all your accomplishments off the top of your head, so get in the habit of keeping what I refer to as a brag book. This is just an achievement journal where you would write an entry anytime you are assigned to one-off projects, you accomplish writing a new program, solve an issue that’s been frustrating your employer or client, implement waste reducing or improvement of processes, or spearhead a campaign.

Korene Stuart: Back to the resume. Be sure to include awards and specify business value when known. Please, when you are introducing something new or you’re spearheading a campaign, try to get what the business value is. We miss out on a lot of that because we just don’t ask. Please make sure if there’s business value that you know it. Add your contributions to building a team or project or product. Avoid leaving gaps in your employment history. While you should include the most relevant information, do your best to avoid showing gaps of six months or more. Even if the job you’ve held for the past two years is unrelated to the one that you’re applying for, included, it is just better to include it instead of someone asking you about the gaps.

Korene Stuart: I find that most people still learn during their gaps, so if you weren’t exactly working during the gap, then include the learning experiences or the volunteer work during that time. All right. And if you don’t have much experience or you’re a recent graduate, start with the skills bank, then the education section followed by any internships, academic projects, freelance work, or other related experience. If you’ve held at least two or three relevant positions, put your experience section before education.

Korene Stuart: Make sure to include your college or university degree and any accolades that you’ve received. Do not include your GPA or year of graduation unless you are a recent graduate. Just leave it off if you have a lot of certifications. There’s no need to put your bachelor’s unless it is relevant to the position. These are for the people who are transitioning. If you have a lot of education experience already, there’s really no need for you to put your bachelor’s. It depends, okay, if you’re still enrolled in school, include the year you expect to graduate. And that goes for certifications too.

Korene Stuart: List the degrees in descending order of relevance and advancement. And again, do not list multiple degrees or certifications if it’s not relevant. You can add a section for training and certifications if necessary. And if you have the room, because when you’re thinking about a resume, it is like a treasure landscape – it should only be put on your resume if it’s relevant to the job that you’re applying for. All right?

Korene Stuart: Now if you have one or two more than one or two certifications, you can put them in a separate section, title, training and certification. Mention the title, certifying authority, and date of the certification. Make sure to tailor your resume to specific job postings and as tedious as it sounds, you need to customize your resume for each job application.

Korene Stuart: The best hack I have strategically figured out is find out the three job roles that you want to do the most and only apply to those positions, instead of being all over the place and applying to 30 different job roles. I find that people who are strategic about their job search get less stressed even though they have less interviews and they get less frustrated. You are being laser focused on those three jobs, allowing you more space and time to genuinely connect and network for the roles that you are actually desiring. All right.

Korene Stuart: Make sure you read the job posting carefully. Identify the skills it lists and edit your so it targets that specific position. Say for instance, if a job description lists project management skills and your resume is thin in that area, you’ll need to include details that are true about executing a project through from start to finish.

Korene Stuart: Keep a master copy of your resume that includes all your past positions and technical skills and from there, when you apply for a job, customize that master copy, then save it as a new document with a title you’re applying for and the date.

building your technical resume filename fullname pdf

Korene Stuart: The general rule for resumes is to try and fit it into one page, onto one page. If you have more than seven years, it is okay for you to have two pages. Name your resume, your name, job role… don’t name it “resume”. Please do not name it “resume”. Please, please, please, please for everyone out there who are looking at resumes and right now they’re celebrating because please do not name it resume. Cuz when we go back to look for your resume, we have to kind of dig through a database of resume.pdf or resume.dox and it can be a very painful effort. Okay?

Korene Stuart: Try to submit your resume in PDF formats, and I am going to include and provide the link for you. That’s about it. If anyone has any questions, I am open to that. I am going to include the… I know that’s a lot for a resume, right? <Laugh>. Oh, but I see people saying thank you for the transitioning advice. Yes. And that, that link that I just provided for you actually has a resume for a teacher transitioning into tech. And although you may not be a teacher, you would find it helpful if you’re transitioning into tech. All right?

Korene Stuart: Let me give you my contact information as well. Let me see if we have any questions. Okay. I always encourage students to include the links to their LinkedIn and GitHub profiles on the resume. Do recruiters and or hiring managers actually look, actually, look at these? I am glad that you asked that because they look at it, okay. Even when I look at resumes, if someone includes their LinkedIn, I go straight to it. I don’t even know if I spend six seconds on the resume, I go straight to the LinkedIn.

Korene Stuart: Now I do look at both, but it’s just something about having that that LinkedIn profile on there that makes you want to look at that. And the GitHub profiles, if you have a technical position they do look at GitHub profiles. Now, I can’t promise you how long they look at them, but they do look at them, okay?

Korene Stuart: Yes, if you have a LinkedIn profile, and I shouldn’t be saying if you, you should have a LinkedIn profile. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, I need you to create one today, okay? Let’s see. I was already asked on the feed, but I joined the question, what about resumes length? And I think I answered that. What should be on the LinkedIn profile if this is more important than resume?

Korene Stuart: I’m not saying that it’s more important than the resume. I’m just saying in combination with your resume, you should have a LinkedIn profile. Number one, it makes things so much easier for networking, okay? When you can put everything on your LinkedIn profile, you can just network with your LinkedIn profile. I give out my LinkedIn profile to almost everyone that I meet. So it’s just such an easy tool to use.

Korene Stuart: It’s not, you know, I just wanna reiterate, it’s not more important than your resume, okay? You gotta, you have to take time to work on your resume. But you should have a LinkedIn profile and try to get some connections. You don’t have to be on it every day, but try to get some connections. If you are a job seeker and you are not on LinkedIn, you are missing out. Just the information alone that I get on LinkedIn from the recruiters and I have so many recruiters on my LinkedIn feed, the information that they give out for free is crazy. You should be on LinkedIn. Should you put every single job you’ve had on your LinkedIn? Absolutely not, treat your LinkedIn like you would your resume. Everything should be geared towards what you’re looking for on your LinkedIn and your resume.

Korene Stuart: Remember I said the resume is a hint at what your future work, what you want for your future work life. You should be putting titles on your resume and I don’t know if I said that or if I emphasized it enough. You should be putting titles if you are going for software engineer, that’s what you should have on your resume. That’s what you should have on your LinkedIn profile. Some people have told me not to put it in my part-time work when I was a student. It depends on what your part-time work was. Is it relevant to what you’re seeking? Jennifer asked that Eunice act, how many bullet points are too much in the resume? Under each job description, do not put a whole bunch of bullet points if it’s not needed. Try to summarize what you did, what you did.

 Korene Stuart: For instance, if you held two projects, you were you were in charge of two projects, try to see if you can put that on one bullet point. If you have had a lot of responsibilities, try to see how you can summarize that as much as possible, but you shouldn’t have two or three. All right? I’ve seen resumes like that, you know, don’t have two or three bullet points cuz that, that’s crazy. <Laugh> let’s see.

Korene Stuart: Does relevant projects play a role in a technical resume if you are a career changer or early career? It depends on what the relevant projects are. If you have a relevant project that’s not relevant to what you are trying to apply for, then don’t put it on there. And I don’t know if I answered that correctly, if that’s what you were trying to say. Greta put, you may have addressed this already, how to address gaps in time taking care of sick family member. I would say that if you, cause a lot of times I noticed that my mentees, some of my students, they are always learning. I am a learner. There’s never been a time when I wasn’t learning something. If you are learning something, even though you’re taking care of a family member, then make sure that you’re including that in your resume.

 Korene Stuart: If it’s just a gap where you’ve done nothing during that time at all, that’s relevant to what you’re seeking, then that’s something that you would just have to explain. There’s really no way of getting around that. Do you provide resume advice for designers? Well, all resumes are basically, they have some similarities, commonalities if you’re a designer, your resume depend and see, it also depends on what kind of company you’re applying to. Because I’ve seen, and I mentioned that in my presentation, that if you’re a designer and you’re trying to really stand out from the pack, you have one resume for the ATS that goes through the ATS if you’re applying to a large company, but then you also have another resume that you present to the hiring manager and you don’t even have to wait for them to request it from you.

Korene Stuart: You can have another resume cuz I’ve seen it where a digital marketer made their resume look like a Facebook profile. You can send that to them by email by just requesting the hiring manager’s email and sending it to them directly. This is another reason why I say you must, you need to have a LinkedIn profile. You need to figure out what companies you wanna work for, what kind of culture you wanna work for you know, get those people’s names and just contact them. Not saying, well, I wanna work for your company. That’s it. Like, no, make genuine connections saying, I wanna know what you do. I wanna know how I can help your company. You know?

Korene Stuart: If you’re a designer, there’s a lot of things that you can do to bolster your resume to make sure that it stands out. Especially if you’re going to go to a company that really loves innovation and creativeness, I would definitely have two resumes for that position. All right. I see that people are talking about resumes getting passed along.

Korene Stuart: Any tips on managing career change from one industry to another when you’re already an established professional in one industry and trying to transition to a new one? Katie, I’m glad you asked that question. People have the tendency that when they’re transitioning from a company, they’re like, oh, I’m going to start entry level. I’m gonna start from the bottom. I say hogwash, okay, you don’t need to start at the bottom. Okay? I’ve done it and I’ve mentored people through it.

Korene Stuart: You have many transferrable skills, you may not even recognize it. And that’s why LinkedIn is very important to identify people who are within those companies, have conversations with them, see where the see where the similarities are in the positions that you’re trying to attain. And just start kind of you know, doing projects or maybe even volunteering to get any skills that maybe you lack, but use the skills that you have.

Korene Stuart: If you’re a manager in one industry, you can certainly be in a manager in another industry, right? Yes. It helps for the manager to have some technical know-how or knowledge that they’re able to guide their people you know, correctly or appropriately, but you’re still a manager. You still have those skills and, and, and, and, and you are able to contribute to your company. Please don’t start at the bottom, right? That’s advice. See what skills are transferable and see where you can fit in in that company.

Korene Stuart: Someone put, how do I prevent age bias if I have over 30 years of experience? Don’t put it <laugh>, don’t put it. If you had a job for, I don’t know, you know, if you had different positions in, you know, that culminated into 30 years of experience, it’s really not necessary for you to put all of that on your resume. And, and trust me, I get that. There is age bias, so I wouldn’t put it and I don’t know what your resume looks like, but try just putting the last two positions that you had. All right.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: This was wonderful. I see all the comments in the questions, so engaging and, you know, a really insightful workshop. Thank you so much.

Korene Stuart: Oh, no, thank you. It’s a pleasure. Thank you,

Sukrutha Bhadouria: <Laugh> Bye everyone.

Korene Stuart: Bye.

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