Looking to become a software engineer?
Good idea. Employment of software developers is projected to grow 21% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But before you get there, you need a strong software engineer resume to win a job interview. Read on to see resume samples and tips for software engineers.
What should be on a software engineer’s resume?
1. Resume header
A header is for your most crucial information. This includes:
- Full name
- Email address
- Phone number
- LinkedIn profile link
- Github or portfolio link
- Location (City and State)
Make recruiters’ jobs easier by letting them see your name at first glance. You also want them to quickly find your contact information so that they can reach you for a further interview.
As a software engineer, a Github profile or an online portfolio is especially important. If a senior engineer is responsible for reviewing your resume, they might skip the rest of your resume and go straight to your Github to check out your technical skills.
As for location, note that it’s unnecessary and too private to include your full address. If you’re after a remote position or you’re willing to relocate, it’s ok to leave your current location off as well.
2. Resume summary or resume objective
A resume summary can be either an opportunity or a burden. You might wonder if you really need a resume summary at all.
A resume summary, or a resume objective, is a good idea if you have long or varied work experiences. Use it to summarize your top accomplishments. If you have limited experience, it is also a great idea to let a resume objective speak for you. You can highlight your top engineering knowledge and programming skills, as well as showcase your motivation and career goals.
If you choose to write one, keep those tips in mind:
- Stay relevant to the position you’re after. Prioritize the skills you have that are specified in the job description.
- Keep it brief. A resume summary should not take recruiters more than 7 seconds to scan through.
- Write it AFTER you’ve finished the rest of your resume. That’s how you make sure it aligns with your experience and skills.
3. Work experience
When writing resume work experience, many job seekers list only their job duties. While job duties are important, employers want to see more than that.
CAR stands for challenge, action, results. Your past works can be seen as tackling multiple challenges by taking certain actions, which lead to some results. With this model, your descriptions can give more context and prove that you actually helped your employer.
For example, “Implemented scalable features for client softwares” makes less sense to recruiters. Instead, “Led a team of 8 developers to build scalable features for client softwares using Java, contributing to $80K revenue” gives a clearer picture of your role, your actions and the scale of the project.
As a software engineer, make sure to specify the technologies and tools you utilized so that senior engineers can quickly understand your technical skills.
In addition, prioritize your experiences in a reverse-chronological order (i.e. the most recent one goes first), and then in the order of relevance and importance. For example, a part-time cashier job is largely irrelevant to a software engineer job. Place it at the end of the list or don’t include it at all.
Finally, remember to use action verbs and bullet points to make your work experience section clear and easy to scan through.
If you have limited work experience, try using your education section to win some points. Beside basic information including name of school, name of degree and graduation date, consider adding more details.
Additional information for your resume section
- Relevant coursework
- Academic performance or GPA
- Awards & Honors
- Student leadership roles
Identical degrees can represent very different student lives. These information help you stand out by giving a clearer picture of what yours look like. Make sure you add courses that are highly relevant to the position you are applying for. If you have participated in a student organization that’s related to computer science, remember to specify it as well.
However, if you’ve graduated more than 5 years ago, it’s better to eliminate education details and focus on your professional experience.
Technical skills are crucial for software engineers. It is highly recommended to have an individual skills section that allows recruiters to quickly get a sense of your technical skills.
However, think twice before dumping a bunch of skills in this section - don’t let employers think that you are boasting. What you should do, instead, is look closely at the job description, and list only the skills you actually have that are also required or related to the job.
For example, as a front-end engineer, you might need technical skills such as HTML5, jQuery, React, CSS3, Vue. As for back-end engineers, popular languages include PHP, Java, Python, and Node.js.
In addition, if you are not an expert in all of the languages you list, feel free to add proficiency levels such as proficient, advanced, familiar, intermediate, and basic. Be honest! You don’t want to get caught bragging during an interview.
You can also include domain knowledge as professional skills. Here are some examples:
- Agile Development
- Software Development Life Cycle
- Configuration Management
- Site Reliability Engineering
- Systems Process Improvement
- Quality Assurance and Control
- Data and Network Management
Nothing can prove your engineering skills and passion better than solid personal projects, especially if you have limited work experience.
Building something on your own shows that you are dedicated to taking the time and effort to expand your software knowledge and skills even if you’re not paid to do so. This self-starting mindset makes you stand out from the crowd. It also showcases your technical skills and how you work, which are crucial to employers.
If there is a specific company that you really want to work at, try building a project that is closely related to the job or the company. Recruiters will definitely notice your effort.
How to choose the right resume format?
1. Use a flexible chronological format
A chronological, or reverse-chronological resume format lists your most recent experience first, and then backward through time. This format allows employers to easily understand your career history and quickly see your top experience.
Being flexible means that you can separate parts of your experience into individual sections regardless of the time order, such as skills and personal project sections, as long as it helps recruiters understand you better.
However, if you are a seasoned professional with large time gaps between your jobs, you might consider using a functional resume format, where you sort your experience by professional skills instead of time. You can then direct employers’ attention from the time gaps to your professional skills.
2. Be careful with columns
Columns are a great way to efficiently display information in a limited space. For example, you can move shorter sections such as contact information, resume summary, and skills section to a narrow column on the left, leaving more space for the rest.
But before you do that, beware of distortions caused by ATS.
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)
How do recruiters manage hundreds of job applications? With the help of computer softwares, obviously. Applicant Tracking Systems can automatically rank resumes based on keyword matching between the resume and the job description. They also enable recruiters to search for certain keywords, such as React, to find resumes that contain the words.
Some ATS aren’t advanced enough to read columns, which will cause distortions with your resume. Hence, if you’re not sure whether a human will read your resume before a robot, you might want to stick to a single-column format.
3. Stick to simple fonts
The ultimate purpose of resume designs is to make it extremely easy to read. So stick to simple fonts and stay away from script fonts, playful or artsy fonts that confuse readers.
Classic resume fonts:
- Open Sans
- Times New Roman
4. Let resume builders help you with design and formatting
As a software engineer, you might want to spend more time on your softwares instead of struggling with designing and formatting. Resume builders such as CakeResume can help you easily format your resume with attractive visuals and customizable features. And it’s free!
Software engineer resume examples & templates (Downloadable!)
Like the design? Use CakeResume's free resume builder to easily make yourself a stunning resume.
Check out more resume examples on CakeResume!
4 bonus tips for software engineers
1. Speak to the job description. Employers want someone that fits the job more than a software genius. Prioritize your skills and experience that are most relevant to the job, even if it means eliminating irrelevant ones. This is especially important if the employer uses ATS.
2. Specify the technologies and tools you use for each job, and make sure they align with your skills section. It gives recruiters a clearer picture of your experience and skill set, while proving that you’re not boasting in the skills section.
3. Build an online portfolio website if you have multiple projects that can’t fit in a resume. A well-designed website can thoroughly showcase your skills, passion and personality to employers and even potential clients.
Further reading: Simple Tips for Creating a First-Class Personal Portfolio
4. Make sure there are no typos or grammar errors in your resume!