As an applicant for a Software Engineer job, there’s no doubt you can stuff your professional resume with lists of languages you know, technologies you’ve worked with, and projects you’ve completed. Although you could easily pass a company’s Applicant Tracking System, your resume would quickly become a jumbled mess of out-of-context information.
Remember: the purpose of a resume is to sell you by telling the story of how you’re the perfect candidate for the position you’re applying to. From header to education, your resume either supports that story or subverts it.
It’s not an accident that certain resumes get the job and others get thrown into the trash. This article shows you five important tips to make sure your Software Engineering resume gets you the job you want.
Make the Right First Impression
With hundreds of job-seekers applying to Software Engineering positions, the last thing you want to do is overwhelm your resume reader’s brain with redundant and poorly formatted information. A good resume is like good code: clean and simple.
To ensure your resume makes the right first impression, keep it brief and relevant. Try to keep your resume to a single page. Your resume should primarily be focused on your work history and skills. Unless you have decades of experience, you should be able to keep your resume to one page by ruthlessly cutting out any excess that doesn’t actually add value to your resume.
Having a readable resume also contributes to a good first impression. Your fonts should be easy to read and consistent. Your safest bets are Calibri, Cambria, Arial, Garamond, Georgia, and Helvetica. In addition, logically organizing your resume into sections for education, experience, and technical skills will make your recruiter’s or hiring manager’s job easier.
Prove You’re the Best Fit
It’s a well-known psychological principle that if you can make someone feel special, they’ll favor you. As it turns out, you can use this technique to make the hiring managers who read your resume feel special, like your resume was written just for them!
Here is how you do it: tailor each resume to the job you’re submitting to so hiring managers feels that you’re exactly the right fit. As you read the job description, note the skills, responsibilities, technologies and programming languages mentioned. If you have or use any of them, be sure to say so in your resume.
Not only does this method help you gain favor with hiring managers, it also helps you pass the critical first stage of the hiring process: the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Ensure that you have enough of the right keywords and you’ll pass the ATS and have your resume end up in front of human eyes.
Show Off Your Best Side
Every good salesperson knows that there are many ways to present a product or service, but only a few ways to present it in its most favorable light. It’s the same with job applicants. You make the most of the words and space in your resume when you know how to show off your strengths instead of exposing your weaknesses.
Start with deciding the style of resume you’ll use. A chronological resume is easy to read and a good choice for long-term employees to emphasize a history of steady, relevant employment. On the other hand, a functional resume focuses on your key skills and achievements. It’s ideal for new graduates or people with little work history.
When you write you resume, stick to factual statements about your skills and experiences. Make sure all the skills and experiences you list are relevant to the job and can be backed up with evidence in your resume. Finally, avoid listing fundamental skills like word processing programs or operating systems you’re familiar with.
Display Your Technical Expertise
Any tech position, especially Software Engineering, requires a high level of technical skill and experience. Make sure that in your resume you prioritize the skills that your potential job requires.
Take stock of the specific systems, methodologies, and platforms you’ve worked with. Whichever ones the job requires, or are similar to what the job requires, put those in the key skills and experience sections of your resume. In addition, if you’ve attended training courses and earned certificates for those technologies and skills, include them in a separate certificates section.
As hiring managers look over your resume, they want to get a sense that you’re not just keyword stuffing your resume but that you actually understand the programming languages and technologies you say you’ve used. They need to know that you’ll be able to work with unfamiliar code and be able to debug systems. That’s why whenever you list a language as a key skill, try to also list related technologies, tools, and frameworks that you’ve used.
Demonstrate Your Accomplishments
Most resumes’ experience sections just outline the applicant’s history of employment. That’s good; but it’s not enough. Remember that the goal of your experience section is to demonstrate the impact and value of your time at previous workplaces. To make the most of it, you have to not just mention, but also prove your accomplishments.
To prove your accomplishments, provide context as you highlight your skills and achievements. Focus on your greatest successes at your previous jobs and explain how you achieved them. Be specific about what you achieved, how you achieved it, the scope of your responsibilities, and who benefited. Plus, whenever possible, quantify your results. Numbers are always more impressive and credible.
In addition to proving your accomplishments in the experiences section, you can create a projects section to list a few projects you’ve created on your own time. Just don’t forget to include hyperlinks to your GitHub, personal website, or wherever your projects are stored.