Despite the market turbulence of the past few years, one thing has remained constant: organizations everywhere need software developers. From building out websites to ensuring enterprise platforms remain as bug-free as possible, there’s no end to the work that software developers need to do—especially if they specialize in cutting-edge disciplines such as machine learning.
Despite that demand, the hiring process for software developers remains rigorous. Many organizations subject software developers to a multi-step vetting process that includes resume reviews, technical interviews, and much more. The resume is a huge part of this; it gives a recruiter or hiring manager an easy-to-grasp breakdown of your software development career to date.
That’s why we’ve created this post; we’re going to break down a sample software developer resume and use it to highlight tips for creating a software developer resume of your own. We’ll cover which skills you should include, how to shape a dynamite executive summary, and much more. Let’s get started!
Do Some Self-Research
Before you sit down to write your software developer resume, take a few minutes and list your background, skills, education, and anything else you think is relevant to your ability to land a job. It doesn’t matter if you have an advanced computer science degree or you’re self-taught—you’re going to use the resume to put your skills in the best possible light.
You’re also not going to create a “generic” resume. While it’s tempting to write one resume you can send to 100 different jobs, you’ll have a much better chance if you tailor your resume to each specific position you want. In light of that, you also need to think about what you want out of a job, and how your skills will help an organization achieve its goals.
One last thing: the better your resume and interview, the more leverage you’ll have in salary negotiations after you land the job. Lightcast (formerly Emsi Burning Glass), which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, estimates the median software developer salary at $98,728 per year, rising even more with the right mix of experience and skills. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for software developers is $110,140, making it one of the higher-paying roles in tech. If you present your skills and experience in the right way, you can boost your compensation.
Characteristics of an Effective Software Developer Resume
Forget subjective terms and clichés like “results-oriented performer” or “strong communicator,” advised Karen Kowal, certified resume writer, executive coach and former engineer and VP of Technology for American Express.
When hiring managers review resumes for a purely technical role, they look for proficiency with a specific tech stack or set of hard skills that match the requirements for the position. With some 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies using applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen and select applications, your resume needs to be customized and demonstrate a match between your skills and the job description to make it past the automated screening process as well as human reviewers.
The first step is to thoroughly analyze the job posting to identify the must-have requirements. Then apply search engine optimization techniques (SEO) by incorporating the specific keywords (hard skills) from the job description into your resume every time you apply for a position.
Is it absolutely necessary to customize your resume each time you apply? Kowal put it this way: “The only exception to the rule is when you really don’t want the job.” Got it.
However, it’s not enough to pepper your resume with keywords—it must be done effectively. Because ATS rank resumes according to relevance, your document’s keyword quantity and frequency matter—as does keyword order. The bottom line: Listing the same words in the same order as what’s in the job description increases the likelihood of your resume being read.
To achieve keyword optimization, Kowal uses a “bookend” technique. She lists nine areas of competency matching the job description in the top third of a resume, immediately below the developer’s keyword rich branding statement. Here’s an example:
.NET Full Stack Developer | IT Senior Developer
Senior full stack developer with over 10 years of experience developing .NET, web and cloud applications. Specialize in interpreting / clarifying business requirements to build software, in Scrum and Agile environments, that exceeds customer needs. Recognized for ability to lead development of complex projects, improve quality of code and introduce innovation into the process producing better results. Won 3rd place in FDR’s 2018 innovation award program. Areas of competency include:
· UI / UX · Front End & Back End Development · SaaS Development
· Digital Platforms · Responsive Web Design · AWS Cloud & Migration
· RESTful APIs · Object Oriented Design & Programming · Agile, Scrum, Waterfall
She also includes a toolbox or technical skills list at the very end of a resume:
Operating Systems: Windows, Unix, Linux, iOS
Methods: Agile, Waterfall, Scrum
Tools: .NET Framework, Oracle, SQL Server, PL/SQL, Visual Studio, Intelli J, NetBeans, Selenium, Web Tests, NUnit, JMeter, Telerik, NuGet, oAuth, jQuery, Jira, GIT, VSTS
Technology: .NET Core, Drupal, ASP.NET, .NET, AWS Cloud, Restful APIs
Design: Object Oriented (OOD, OOP), Microservices, Database
How to Write a Profile Summary
Your branding statement is how you market yourself and communicate the value you offer to a prospective employer. It should focus on what you’re good at and what you’re recognized for. To make sure it resonates with the hiring manager, a branding statement needs to tie your experiences back to the position by using keywords and requirements from the job description.
It’s also a good idea to list one or more generic job titles under your name and contact information. A well-constructed headline can help you convey what you’re looking for and get past an ATS. Here’s an example:
.NET Full Stack Developer * IT Senior Developer * Project Leader
How to Write a Professional Experience Summary
Placing keywords strategically throughout your work experience summary is another way to increase optimization and grab the attention of hiring managers. However, hiring managers also want to see how you’ve applied your skills and how the apps, services or “things” you’ve developed or the people you’ve trained have impacted the company and its top and bottom lines.
“Hiring managers interpret the things you’ve done at your previous companies as what you can do for them,” Kowal explained.
To achieve maximum impact, under a brief description of each position, use bullets and the PAR scheme to illustrate your technical prowess and most recent accomplishments:
- What was the problem?
- What action did you take and what skills did you use?
- What was the result?
Kowal offered these examples:
First Data Resources – Omaha, NE Jan 2016—Jul 2020
IT Senior Developer – Product Engineering
Full stack developer and scrum team member developing loyalty products and new loyalty features used by Fortune 500 companies including retail, travel, financial services, and entertainment.
- Led design, process documentation and alignment, test plans and user acceptance in an Agile environment. Met the 10-week schedule.
- Developed “Refer-A-Cardholder” feature to increase value and reach of loyalty programs including websites that are accessible for the blind and vision impaired by introducing a screen reader.
- Improved performance by developing load automation tests using Visual Studio 2019 and JMeter.
- Enhanced security of Angular based applications ensuring specific authorization and privileges for users (customer audience) eligibility based on promotional offers.
- Eliminated disk space resource issues by leading the successful migration of CRM batch files from in-house service to AWS Cloud.
- Improved the ability of clients to manage all product features by using Restful web APIs to improve backend functionality.
Final Tips and Characteristics of an Effective Software Developer Resume
To encourage reviewers to read your software developer resume, limit the length to no more than two pages. If necessary, list additional positions at the end of the document, but keep in mind that it's better to focus on your most recent jobs and in-demand skills. Also…
Your resume must be readable by computers and humans: A .docx file or PDF file is generally compatible with ATS and human reviewers.
Be sure to include hot certifications, recent coursework and links to work/coding samples: Demonstrate a passion and commitment to continuous learning by including top certifications and recent coursework. Be sure to include links to side projects, open-source projects or GitHub coding samples that utilized the skills necessary for the job. (In addition, more specialization and skills will allow you to potentially negotiate for a higher salary.)
Always keep in mind that the more you tailor your resume to a position, the better your chances of landing an interview. And make sure you always keep growing in your career, whether you’re trying to improve your skills or striking out on your own as a freelance software developer.