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Résumé Tips for Software Developers

Optimize your résumé so humans can parse it easily

Hiring managers and recruiters appreciate elegance and efficiency just as much as you appreciate well documented code. So here are a few tips to make your résumé easier to read and more informative.

Basic formatting

Unless you're a senior engineer with about 10 years of experience, your résumé should fit on one page.

Make sure the text size is readable and include plenty of white space

Don’t bold keywords. It's distracting and implies that the keywords are more important than what you accomplished.

Education should go below professional experience unless you're currently a student or just graduated. At a minimum, list each school along with graduation date and degree conferred. We recommend including range of years attended.

Save space by putting your phone, email, links, all on one line.

Edit & customize each résumé

Each job you apply to is different and your résumé should be too. Not every job/internship you had in the past is relevant. If you're applying to be a Lead Developer at Facebook, remove your college gig at Starbucks.

Worried about gaps in your employment history?

Don't stress about gaps during college. You're main job is being a full-time student! If you have gaps post-school, you can and should explain that in a cover letter.

Show progress

Your résumé should show that you've grown and gained responsibility & skills over time. Even if you've been at the same place for a long time, you can demonstrate that you haven't been doing the same thing over and over for years.

If you had multiple positions at the same company, highlight promotions and how your responsibilities grew.

Summaries, not objectives

You don't need one of those hackneyed "Looking for a position in software development" objectives at the top of your résumé. Instead, add a summary that guides the reader through your resume and highlights some of the key points.

If you're a career changer, summaries are super helpful because they provide context for the reader who might be wondering why a Marketer is applying to a Product job.

Structuring your bullets

You don't need more than 3-4 bullets for each job on your résumé, but they do need to be well crafted. Instead of generic "used JavaScript" or "built a new CMS with PHP", think action and result.

Each bullet should state what you did or worked on (action), tools or technologies used, and the results achieved (ideally quantifiable). Maybe it was a 50% reduction in test runtime using a new TDD tool, or your new React front end design resulted in a 3x increase in sales.

No sub bullets!

Be clear about whether your work was contract or on behalf of an agency or consultancy. You don’t want to confuse clients with employers on your resume or look like you changed jobs every few months.

Things you might want to include on your resume

  • If you've got US work authorization / a green card / lots of time left on your OPT, say so.
  • If you've got secret or top-secret clearance, put it on your resume. Don't forget to add when it expires!
  • LinkedIn, GitHub, and portfolio URLs - BTW, don't forget to make these actual working hyperlinks. Nobody wants to copy & paste.

Things you shouldn't include on your résumé

  • references (that comes later)
  • your picture
  • your home address - your city, state, and email/phone are enough
  • coursework is unimportant unless you're currently in school or a recent graduate

What about hackathon projects, publications, and patents?

If you're light on work experience / a new grad, hackathon and side projects are an excellent way to demonstrate your skills. Treat them like a job (bullets, action→result), listing what they were, how you got involved, and be aware that not all recruiters / hiring managers know what a hackathon is.

And if you have patents or publications which are relevant to the job, include them!


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