Adjusting Resume for Foot-in-the-Door Job

My best friend’s older brother works for an awesome company in Chicago and I approached him about some opportunities there. He suggested that I apply as a tech support rep to get my foot in the door (it’s a very competitive company with some great engineers), which I agree is the best way to become a dev there some time soon. He told me to hightlight my customer support skills and technical skills in my resume/cover letter.

Now, I’ve been prepping for a developer role and I’m not certain how to illustrate my technical skills properly. I’m 5 projects shy of finishing the my third certification here on fCC and I’ve been doing that full time, so I haven’t got any personal projects to share.

Should I list fCC projects on my resume? Should I start some projects and list them as ‘in development’? Should I omit the section all together?

What about listing ‘technical skills’? I’ve got my languages/frameworks listed, but I’m not sure if that’s useful for a tech support resume even though it is technical.

Semi-Unrelated Question: How do you guys break your tech-skills down on your resume? I’ve got:

  • Languages: JavaScript, Node.js, HTML5, CSS3
  • Frameworks: Express.js, React.js, D3.js, jQuery, SASS
  • Tools: MongoDB, Git, Gulp, Webpack, Heroku, Netlify

Any better ways of breaking it down or structuring it?

I include the languages/frameworks/tools in the bullet points of the jobs/projects on my resume. I don’t give them their own sections.

I would not list projects as “in development” if you don’t have anything you’re proud to show yet.

Hi Mr. Miller,

I would not recommend taking a job in tech support with the hope of getting a foot in the door. I have been in this field for 22 years and it’s very difficult getting out once you are in. One rarely moves over to development unless they spend years on a HelpDesk and find a manager that is willing to work with them. I live in the Chicago area and I am also looking for people to do community work with to get a good portfolio.

Most Helpdesk managers are under pressure to ensure the lights are on and end users are happy. In my experience, If they see you mingling or schmoozing with other teams they will get onto you at best. At worst, they will give you more work because “you have too much time on your hands”. Recruiters rely on ATS so be sure you place everything in Experience. There are sites that emulate an ATS to see how your resume will pop up. It’s all automated. Even the HR Recruiters use ATS to screen candidates.

I put everything under “Experience” and list it under my freelance work. Find a good 1-4 good recruiters and hound them. Stay on their radar and reach out to them at least 1-2 times a week. Ask for assessment tests to test you on the basics. Some firms have Angular but few have React tests because its so new. Hiring managers and senior engineers want to see your logic.

I bombed an interview earlier this month because I couldn’t do the basics. I was so focused on the frameworks and libraries (convention) that I forgot the basics (configuration) and couldn’t write a function from memory and verbally. (Iterating through JavaScript Objects/Arrays is probably the most common question I get) I am presently putting together a GitHub exercise that builds a dynamic site without any frameworks or libraries. It focuses heavily on the logic, HTML 5 Semantics, CSS pseudo-classes, JavaScript Design patterns, and applying OOP and ES6 wherever possible.

DO stay on top of the Mongo, Node, React, Angular. They are the icing on the cake. Just make sure your fundamentals are strong. In fact, can you take the same github code and replicate it to different frameworks? Can you implement factory or observer design patterns? How is your REST knowledge? Can you work with dirty data? Can you write a function off the top of your head verbally?

I know it sounds basic but I’m like you. I am starting out so they want to make sure I know what I am doing, not just what I learned on a tutorial or in class.

Capitalize on your relationships.

Just from what I see in your list, you have experience. Network. Network. Network. If your friend’s brother can give you advice, they can also pick up the phone and make calls for you. He can look over your resume and tell you what he would want to see if he was hiring you. Don’t be afraid to ask for someone to put in a good word. I made that mistake. I wasn’t asking.

Have someone sit with you and throw out questions. Have someone look over your code. Have a RECRUITER look at your resume.

If you can avoid it, do not go into support.

Good luck,

Jorge in Evanston, IL


Hey, thanks! That was a very insightful and well thought out response. I completely understand what you mean by fundamentals first; it’s something I’m very cognizant of and work on fairly consistently. Sometimes I find myself working on a project and my heart skips a beat when I feel like I haven’t done simple algorithm practice recently.

Funnily enough, I’m also located in Evanston! If you’re looking to connect, or perhaps collaborate on something, feel free to reach out.