Newbie Software Developer Resume Tips

This article focuses on resume writing skills for those entering the software development field.

Having a strong resume can really help you stand out when you are competing for a job.  A strong resume is not only about skills, though.  Presentation can be a deciding factor for many employers.  I recently read through several dozen resumes for a junior software developer position, and here are some tips that I think can benefit those entering the field.

Have an Objective

Sometimes I get a resume that looks like it could be from someone applying for anything from a security guard to a security architect.  Have a short, clear objective at the top of your resume.  Your objective should only be one sentence, and get straight to the point.

Seeking a full time position as a plumber's apprentice.

What to Leave Out

Gender, marital status, political affiliation and compensation requirements have no place in a technical resume.  These are things used to discriminate against candidates.  Some people like to include a photo on their resume.  Unless you are applying for an acting position, photos are unnecessary.

Avoid Elaborate Formatting

Some resumes suffer from an excess of fancy formatting.  Take your resume and copy/paste it into a text editor.  Now imagine what you see is forwarded a couple times in emails.  Can you still read it?  Does it make sense?  This is how a lot of interviewers will get your resume, so focus on keeping it clean instead of fancy.  That said, a resume that is all bulleted lists is pretty boring, and will also not stand out.  You still need to be mindful of having your resume stop at the end of a page.  Resumes that stop abruptly in the middle of a page look unprofessional, like you could not be bothered to try a little harder.

Keep It Short and Relevant

Especially if you are just coming out of school, your resume should be a single page.  Focus on the information that is important to getting the job.  While stating that you worked at a fast food restaurant helps establish that you are responsible, detailing what you did at said restaurant does nothing to help you get a technical job.

It's All About You

The perspective employer knows your resume is about you, so you do not need need to start each sentence with "I" or "I was".  E.g., Instead of, "I was responsible for data collection," you can just write, "Responsible for data collection."  Even if you decide not to follow this tip, be consistent and do not mix forms.  Group this tip with Keep It Short.

Keep it DRY

DRY stands for Don't Repeat Yourself.  Now, it can be beneficial to include minor repetition for emphasis, but be mindful of stating the same points over and over.  Some resumes will include both Projects and Experience sections, and list the same details under both.  This is cumbersome to the poor interviewers who are reading through dozens of resumes, and can hurt your standing.  Group this tip with Keep it Short.

List Your URLs

Having a GitHub, BitBucket, or Blog link to your existing work can be a boon for a hiring manager trying to narrow down a large list of resumes.  Examples of your work can score (or lose) you a lot of points in the hiring process.  Make sure your sample work is clean, and don't be afraid to delete projects and posts that you think can hurt you.  I know I do.

Be Honest

A lot of people seem to think you need to exaggerate your abilities to gain a competitive edge.  Just assume that this will backfire.  I will not hire someone when I find out they have lied on their resume.

Have a Friend/Mentor Proofread

I have experienced this myself.  You read and edit your resume a hundred times and finally submit it, only to realize you have a stupid grammatical mistake in your final version.  When competing in a tight job market, every little detail counts.  Having that second pair of eyes look over your final draft can save you some embarrassment.

Good luck!

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