7 Resume Tips For a Software Developer

Two things are prompting me to write this post. First, I was recently going through the interview process and have already started a new job. During the interviews, I learned a lot about what people expect of a “senior-level” software developer’s resume. Last week, Read Write Web posted a story about web-enabled resumes and job hunting. The introduction on the article can tell a lot about the perspective of the story:

Traditional resumes are boring. They become stale and out-of-date, they can’t really showcase your work or achievements, and they end up just sitting in the bottom of someone’s inbox. A paper resume, while professional, doesn’t really let an employer get to know you. Many sites are trying to solve the problems of traditional resumes by providing job seekers a new way to stand out in the crowd.

The article continues by talking about several video resume sites, online portfolios, resume websites and social networking. Overall, it was a good article, but I think it is a little ahead of the curve. Based on all of the feedback I received during my interviews, the traditional boring resume will be around for a while. Most of the hiring managers would only look online if they were hiring a web designer. Otherwise, the paper resume was critical. In addition to this, there were some other nuggets of information that I wanted to share with all of you:

  1. The first page of the resume is like the cover of a book. An ugly cover will lose a lot of potential readers. Make the first page of the resume highlight all of the successes you have had.
  2. “Objectives” paragraphs are useless. Some recruiters love an objective to open the resume. The hiring managers disagreed as they were more concerned about the experience that you have had.
  3. Communication preferences are very important. Most resumes have your name, address, home phone number, cell phone number, and email address at the top of the page. How should the company contact you if they want to invite you for an interview? You definitely do not want to miss that call.
  4. In your experience, talk about what you did and what tools you use. I have missed this one at times, as I will include other technologies that were used on the project. Assume you will be asked about any technology that is listed in your project descriptions.
  5. Do not get fancy with the resume. Format the text simply, in a very legible font without a lot of decoration. If you are a software developer, the interviewer expects your resume to be a little dry. Do not try to be a designer with your resume if you are not a professional designer.
  6. Include an interests or hobbies section. In a few interviews, I was asked about what I do outside of work. The idea is that they want to know that you are a person and not a drone. Interests outside of work can also show that you are passionate about things, not just work but maybe other things as well.
  7. Obviously, do not lie about anything. If you lie on the resume, you are setting yourself up for failure. Also, during the interview you will likely be asked about the section that you lied about. You will be found out eventually and you will be fired.

I do not want to mislead people that these are great tips for anyone looking for a job (except #7). These are somewhat biased to those involved with software development and possibly even senior level staff. I will also admit that I have used these ideas before as I have been the interviewer as well as the interviewee.

4 thoughts on “7 Resume Tips For a Software Developer

  1. I’m a professional resume writer and I understand what you are saying about the Objectives section being obsolete. Having said that one of the most important things to include at the top of your resume is the position you are applying for. Don’t expect the person reading your resume to try and figure out where you will fit. You’ll be waiting a long time.

    Kenneth Lowrey
    Lead Resume Writer
    A Plus Professional Resumes


  2. @lowken

    Well, my assumption is that you are replying directly to a job listing, or you have included a cover letter. I did not think about people blind submitting a resume to a company. If someone is blind submitting a resume, they should include a cover letter as well. They need to have some introduction about the type of position and why they would fit well into their organization.

    Good point though.


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