Write a perfect Software Engineering Resume


Writing a great resume does not have to be complicated. It might seem tricky to a lot of people and rightly so – there are so many resume examples, countless tips and just an abundance of information. When you combine it all, what you get is a mixture of competing information that all makes sense but does not even convey half of the information that you were tying to show. But like many other complicated things, creating a good resume is a process that takes time and thought. We wanted this article to provide you with a one-stop formula where you can follow along and create a solid, effective software engineering resume that will bring out the best version of you in a paper and catch the attention of any recruiters!

The Building Blocks

It is important to know what “sections” to put on your resume and an effective order of those sections. We will go through each section in order of importance from highest to lowest and provide details on what to include.

About You

The most important detail of this section is your name. Write it in a standard and readable font so that any recruiter can find it easily on your resume.

Your Contact Information:
Make sure you put in your phone number and your email address on your resume so that your recruiter can contact you. It is very important that you do not mess this one up! The recruiter will use this information to reach out to you. Also remember to keep your personal email addresses over your college/university one. This is because college emails usually have more security checks and there is also a possibility that once you lose your college email, the recruiter will not have a way to contact you.

Resume Tip

If you have a Github profile or your personal website that you want to showcase, this is the place to do it!

Education

This section is a no brainer. You have to keep your college education. You don’t have to overdo it. Simply put you college, your expected graduation date and your major(s). Now, whether you put your GPA or not is up to debate but this is something that can be skipped. A lot of recruiters do not really care about your GPA so feel free to remove it, if you have anything above a 3.0 then feel free to include it. However, we leave this part up-to your best judgement and whether you are comfortable with disclosing your GPA.

Relevant courses
Adding the courses that you took is a great way to demonstrate your knowledge to your recruiters but make sure that the courses you put are relevant. You do not want to add your art history class because it might have been the best class you took because it doesn’t convey to the recruiter that the class improved your technical skills or helped you become a better software engineer. And remember to not overdo it and only keep around 5-8 relevant courses.

Skills

This is a pretty straightforward section. Include all the technical skills that you are familiar with. If you want you can divide the skills into proficient, familiar, and beginner. However, this is not a must as you can see above, just separating into different sections like technical, frameworks, libraries, etc, will also do. Some people also like to list out all their skills in one big chunk which is fine too. This section has more flexibility, so how you demonstrate the content is based on your preferences. 

Experience

It’s definitely sad to hear but not all experiences are equal. When it comes to software engineering, always prioritize your most technical experiences. Suppose you have had three jobs/internships – you have interned as a website developer for a company, you have worked with a firm creating technical content for blogs, and you have worked as a lifeguard for a beach. Only include the first two as they relate to software engineering. When a recruiter looks at those experiences, they can surmise that both of those experiences have higher chances of making you a technically sound engineer. Although working as a lifeguard might have made you a better person or shaped you to be quick thinker and so on, it does not indicate how you can succeed as a software engineer. 

If you do not have any relevant technical experience, then it is fine to include about 2 experiences. Do not worry about it now as you will see in the personal projects section, how you can make an awesome resume even with less experience. 

Another important thing to note is your experiences should always start in descending order starting with your most recent experiences. Be mindful of the experiences you include too. If you are an undergrad in your first year then it is fine to include technical experiences from your high school career. All second year undergrads and above should not have any high school experiences as that information is outdated.

How to write your experiences?
Coming up with an accurate, concise and articulate description of your experiences can be one of the hardest things in life. This is partly because many tend to either make it too long or are not descriptive enough to show what they really accomplished. When any recruiter looks at your resume, they must quickly see: 
i) What skills you learned
ii ) How you applied those skills to create a positive impact
iii) How much of an impact you made

And in order to best answer all these questions at once, follow this awesome formula created by the Former SVP of People Operations at Google, Laszlo Bock:
“Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z]” — Laszlo Bock”

However we added a little extra ingredient of our own so that it can also show what technologies you used.

“Accomplished [A] using [B] as measured by [C] by doing [D]” — Gydable

As you can see, this will show what you accomplished (A), what you learned (B), how you made an impact (D) and how much of an impact you made (C). You do not always need to follow the same sentence structure. Feel free to move it around so that your resume does not sound formulaic. Play around with sentences and use different words. For example use different verbs like utilized, optimized, enhanced, created, improved, etc. to make your points. You have the freedom to come up with various points, but all your points should cover the ABCD’s above.

Here we unpacked an example so that you can see its parts:
“Analyzed and presented data using Python’s numpy, pandas, and seaborn packages to increase Facebook user engagement by 35% and total user engagement by 23%”

Accomplished [A] – increase Facebook user engagement and total user engagement
Tools used [B]- Python’s numpy, pandas, and seaborn packages
Measure by [C] – by 35% and 23%
Doing [D]- Analyzed and presented data

Resume Tip

Identify the Technologies Used section right below the company name. This allows recruiters to get a sense of all the technologies that you used and are familiar with at a glance. Apart from this, it will also help your resume with the Automated Tracked System (ATS) and keyword matching which is covered in-depth below.

Personal Projects

Personal projects are one of the most important sections a software engineer can highlight on their resume. What makes personal projects such an integral part of the resume is that it shows recruiters that you are interest in programming and are willing to do it outside of the classroom.

It shows that you have a genuine interest in the field and are not afraid take initiative in the things that you like- qualities that are extremely impressive to a recruiter. What you gain from personal projects is also invaluable. In school, you work with theoretical concepts, and less with the latest frameworks, new libraries or work with tools like VScode, Git etc.

If you are unsure of how to start a personal project, this read is for you: A new engineer’s guide to side projects

Showcase your Project

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The Must Do’s

Keeping it to one page
A resume should never be longer than one page. This is a very common mistake made by students- a strict no! Recruiters usually have 6-7 seconds to look at your resume and make a decision so keep it concise and do not exceed one page.

Make it ATS Friendly
Many companies use an Application Tracking System (ATS) to filter through thousands of incoming applications. ATS analyzes your resume to find how well your resume aligns to key words written in the job description.
If you want your resume to be reviewed, make sure that you tailor your resume to the key words in the job description in your skills and experience section mentioned above.

Keep it simple and consistent
Consistency is key. Use one font and have a consistent style so that your resume is readable. Avoid adding extra images, fancy fonts or non-text elements as most ATS are not advanced enough to parse through these elements. We want to make sure your resume makes it to the hands of the potential recruiter

Choose the right file type
Many people make the mistake of sending/uploading their resume in formats other than pdfs like .docx, .peg, etc. Avoid this at all costs. Always convert your resume to a pdf format as it preserves the formatting and content, and makes sure that your resume is what you want it to look like when it is in the hands of your recruiter.

Name your Resume Correctly
Name your resume file in a way that any recruiter can find your resume easily. This is a small detail but it goes a long way in making the recruiters job easier. It is recommended to add your name to your resume title, for example JohnDoeResume.pdf or John_doe_resume.pdf.


Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

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