Getting your résumé writing right is an important step in your developer journey.
Have you ever been a part of the job search process—be it an internship or a full-time opportunity—as a student or a new grad?
If yes, you already know: getting past the résumé screening step, and landing that interview call can often be harder than the actual interview.
Over the next few minutes, you'll get to know some actionable tips for résumé writing, that you could use to revamp your résumé. This post is inspired by Jessie Newman's webinar for WWCode, NYC chapter.
Let's get started.
What goes on a résumé?
Let's start with this question:
What are companies and hiring managers looking for?
Well, they're looking for candidates who:
- can improve the company's products with their technical expertise,
- be enjoyable to work with, and
- can contribute positively to the company's culture and growth.
Even if the recruiter skims through your résumé for less than a minute, you should stand out as a prospective candidate, yes?
For this to happen, the content on your résumé should be:
- Recent: Always present information in reverse chronological order—starting with the most recent experience first.
Relevant to the role that you're applying for.
Clear even to a reader who has no context.
Typically, your résumé should only be about a page long. And that's all you've got to make an impression on the reviewer.
As they say, "You're much more than a one-page résumé—but your résumé should not be more than one page.😄
Format of a résumé
There's no one recommended format to draft your résumé. However, the following sections should typically be present:
- Name and Contact info - Objective (optional) - Education - Technical Experience - Skills - Leadership | Volunteering
Let's now visit each of these sections, and see how you can best structure each of them.
Name and contact info
✅ Include your name, your email address, links to your portfolio/GitHub.
✅ Be sure to check if your email address is professional enough.
✅ Include social media handles—like LinkedIn—only if you've updated them.
Include the objective section only if you aim at providing some context to the reviewer.
Every line should tell the recruiter something that they don't already know.
For example, if you're a CS major applying to a software engineering role, your objective isn't going to provide any context to the recruiter.
On the other hand, suppose you're a professional accountant, who's looking to break into software development. Then, the objective tells the recruiter upfront that you're trying to switch careers—and they won't look for a CS degree or developer experience as they skim through your résumé.
Always cite details of your education—starting from your highest qualification first.
If you're a Master's student, only mention details of your Master's and undergraduate degree. Some companies do have a certain cut-off GPA, so be sure to include your GPA.
Some people do include
Relevant Coursework subsection in their
However, you should use it only if needed.
Being a CS major, doing courses in algorithm design and analysis, and operating systems isn't any interesting to the reviewer. If you're from a non-CS stream, but have supplemented your coursework with courses from the CS bucket—you may include them in the
Relevant Coursework section.
This section should account for nearly
80% of your résumé, and should include:
- Relevant work experience and
▶ We'll talk about this in greater detail in the next section.
You should always organize your skills by category—ordered by proficiency.
Here's an example:
You should always remember to demonstrate your skills in the other sections.
For example, if Python is the language that you're most proficient in—your projects should be indicative of your proficiency.
Leadership | Volunteering
If you've been volunteering, involved in open-source communities, mentoring and the like, you may include them in this section.
Ensure that you're communicating your interests and impact clearly, and keep this section short and towards the end of your résumé.
How to describe your technical experience
This section is the most crucial section in your résumé—be sure to draft this section carefully.
Here are a few suggestions on how you should explain your experience and projects.
❌ Do not list down your job responsibilities.
✔ Write what you accomplished.
❌ Do not tell what you learned.
✔ Instead, explain what you built with that knowledge.
❌ Do not use weak language.
Avoid phrases like: - Helped build, - worked as part of the team, - helped implement
✔ Use strong language that's impactful.
Say: - Built, - Worked on, - Implemented
❌ Do not be vague when specifying impact.
...worked on speeding up the inference pipeline --> # not quantifying impact
✔ Quantify impact wherever possible—talk numbers!.
...worked on speeding up the inference pipeline by 30% by reducing the inference time to 2.5 ms --> #quantifying impact
❌ Do not include many projects without explaining each of them.
✔ Explain your projects clearly in detail—prioritize quality over quantity.
- Be sure to specify the programming language, and tech stacks used.
- Never leave the recruiter guessing why the project is interesting/relevant. Explain clearly.
Now that you know how to draft all major sections in your résumé, let's list down a few concluding points.
Points to remember
- Have a résumé for every role that you'd be applying to.
If you're interested in both software engineering and data analytics, be sure to draft a dedicated résumé for each of these roles.
- Don't be terse in explaining your projects—including portfolio links doesn't suffice.
The recruiter may not have time to look at your portfolio. So your résumé should do the talking for you.
- Do not use fuzzy language just to make your projects sound cool and complicated.
Prefer using simple and clear language instead—just the way you'd explain to your friends.
🎯 And you've reached the end of this post on best practices in résumé writing.
Thanks for reading all the way up to here!😄
Hope you found this post helpful. If you know someone who'd find this useful, do share with them as well.
If you're currently looking for opportunities, I wish you loads of luck in your endeavors.
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