Software Development

The biggest mistake tech job applicants make (and other advice)

"Git Cute" podcaster (and professional tech job interview prepper) Jocelyn Harper on the dos and don'ts of applying for a job in the tech industry.

Jocelyn Harper. (Courtesy photo)

This editorial article is part of's Hiring Trends Month. Philly's NET/WORK tech jobs fair is Feb. 25.

 Jocelyn Harper has made a name for herself as a no-nonsense, down-to-earth technologist who shares her expertise as a senior associate software engineer at Capital One, as well as the host of Git Cute” podcast, a technology podcast aimed at providing technology and career advice “without the humdrum and heaviness of technical jargon.”

When she’s not working, traveling around the country giving technical presentations and talks about diversity and inclusion within the tech sector or enjoying some downtime with gaming and Twitter, she offers resume and interview prep services. Who better to get some resume advice for’s Hiring Trends Month?

We asked Harper five questions about tech job resumes. Below are her answers.


What’s one of the biggest mistakes people make when creating a resume for a tech job? 

The biggest mistake that I have seen while offering resume help is that they use resumes from previous employers to try to kick off their tech resume. Your tech resume is different from any other position that you are applying for — from the information that you want to include on it, to the keywords that you will want to use in your skills and job descriptions, down to the very composition of how you have your sections! There is a lot more that goes into it, but it is individually tailored to the specific person, and I have discussed this on my latest episode of the “Git Cute” podcast.

What is one thing applicants should always include on their tech resume?

Speaking engagements! If you have participated in a panel, a small talk at a meetup or small gathering, all of that matters in having the person reviewing your resume get a good idea of you as a candidate before they interview you. It shows that you are interested in technology in a broader scope than what your current position is.

Do you need a formal cover letter when applying for a tech job?

Yes and no. Some companies will directly specify for you to have a cover letter or to write a blurb while applying for the position. I only send in a cover letter if it is asked for. There’s nothing wrong with having a template cover letter on hand in case the need arises.

Is it worth trying to catch a hiring manager’s attention with things like a colorful font? 

Sure! There are all sorts of free resume editors that you can find online that allow you to add extra flair to your resume. As long as the resume is still readable and is composition correctly, a little color does not hurt at all. I’d stray away from colored backgrounds though.

“One page (plus cover letter) maximum”: Hard rule or myth?

Myth. Your resume can exceed one page if it is relevant to what you are applying for and to give a better understanding of you as an employee. For instance, a lot of my volunteer work and speaking engagements make my current resume 1.5 pages, and I haven’t had an issue with this while applying for jobs or having recruiters reach out to me.

Need more advice? Reach out to Harper on Twitter or @ us with other job seeking topics you’d like to see.

Series: Hiring Trends Month 2020

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