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8 steps to increase your Developer Resume response rate by 90%

aershov24 profile image Alex 👨🏼‍💻CodeStack.Cafe Updated on ・7 min read

8 steps to increase your Developer Resume response rate by 90% (with resume example)

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Hey guys. Today I want to grab your attention and talk about your developer's resume. That time let's talk it serious though. And before we start ask yourself the following questions:

  1. When was the last time you did update your resume?
  2. Is it just one (1) sheet long?
  3. How many keywords in you Skill Cloud (what)?
  4. What is your resume response rate (RRR)?
  5. Do you know your personal ROI for the last position and the time to ROI if it's positive (wtf)?
  6. Have you ever A/B tested you resume?
  7. Are you confident you could find a new job in two weeks starting now?

Surprised by the questions and wondering why the heck does it all matter? Read through.

TL;DR: I've been A/B tested my full stack developer resume for the last 3 years and its final version got 90% more responses from recruiters than the version I've start my test with. You could create your version of that Interview Winning Full Stack Resume using this service: www.fullstackresume.com (https://www.fullstackresume.com/)

Your resume sucks. Face it.

We are devs, not marketers. We good in writing code and hate to sell or market any stuff even it's our own skills. This is why our resumes are so freaking bad when it comes to job hunting. We keep it growing to 4-6 pages during our career bragging about all dusted MS SQL 2005 and genuinely don't understands why that HR agent didn't call back. We keep writing how we enjoy playing the bass guitar in our spare time. We still hope the list of Udemy courses we bought last Black Friday (and never watched) is vital to stand us out from the crowd. Wrong. Time to face it. Your resume perception is broken and you've never done it right. Here is why.

Your resume is your Landing Page

If you're an avid internet user you're probably aware what a landing page is.

A landing page is created specifically for the purposes of a marketing or advertising campaign. Landing pages are designed with a single focused objective – convert a visitor to a lead by following the Call to Action (CTA).

Now behold the most esoteric job hunting secret:

  • Your resume is your landing page
  • Recruiters are your visitors
  • The main goal of your resume is to convert recruiter to a recruiter who calls you, ideally in 2 minutes time after a resume check.
  • Your resume CTA is a "Contact me" section
  • The one single focused objective of your resume is to get you a job interview. Nothing else.

Now while we keep it mind let's optimise your resume for conversion and improve your resume response rate (RRR) once and for all for 90%.

The Ultimate Developer Resume Checklist

Be aware, when you'll implement all the tips from the list below your phone will blow up from the headhunter calls. Stop reading if you want to keep your career the same quite pond as before.

1. Keep it short. Make it just two pages long.

Yes, just one sheet of paper. The average senior dev resume is four (4) pages long. It's a huge no-no. Attract immediate attention by staying succinct and respectful to others people time right from the start of your professional relationships. Indulge peoples ADHD. And yes, one sheet resume is amazingly convenient to navigate through on a real interview.

🤜 Best practice: Shorter resumes always come to the top of the pile. Boom!

2. Pump up your Skills Cloud section

The Skill Cloud is a list of tech stacks, languages, tools, frameworks, libs and other concepts you are familiar with. It's your only tool of the great office war so keep it sharp, clean and polished as a spartan's short sword. Use clear-cut, extensive tech terms instead of common phrases. For example instead of JavaScript specify the JS specifications you're familiar with like ES5, ES6, ES2017. Instead of C# state C# (4.0-7.3) (if you started your career in 2010 from .NET Framework 4) and so on. Get rid of a graveyard of outdated and obsolete skills/tools/frameworks.

🤜 Best practice: Treat your Skills Cloud like keywords in SEO. Show the HR filter systems and picky recruiters what they want - the bleeding edge techy terms they have no idea about. Boom!

3. Stop DOing, start ACHIVEing

When describing your experience write down how did you improve the state of the company's business and what did you achieve rather than listing what you was getting the pay check for. For example:

Configuration of more than 50 win services/web portals/APIs DEV/UAT/Production CI/CD pipelines using Jenkins. 95% grow of error-free dev-to-prod code delivery. Complete elimination of manual deployment practice. As a result ~210 dev hours been saved for the last year.

🤜 Best practice: To blow agents mind you have to mention your personal ROI (return of investment) and "time to ROI" on your previous position. For example, if your salary was 5$k/m, you completed a project in 3 months and brought back to the company 60$k than your ROI is 45/15100 = 300% and "time to ROI" is 3 months. It's essentially just one thing any company wants to know about you - how good you as an investment. Boom!

4. Spice it up with WOW effects

That is a hardest part but if you'll master it - your career is settled. The idea of WOW effect is to rephrase your experience to directly tie-up the company's business success with your technical competence and attract even more attention from a hiring person. For example, instead of writing:

  • "Designed and implemented 2 Single Page Applications (SPA) as a part of Realine project" -> meh... soo boring...

put it like

  • "Helping Realine Project to launch 2 SPA apps (MEAR Stack, 500 reqs/sec) that increased user's engagement by 35%". -> WOW! That guy is awesome!

Do you feel the flavour of competence, proficiency and business acumen in the second sentence? Yeah, the employer will spot it too and wouldn't let it go.

🤜 Best practice: Link your company's business success with your technical and professional competence.

5. Your contact details is your CTA

Remember the main goal of your resume is to convert a recruiter to the recruiter who calls or contacts you? I had a guy who called me from Melbourne to Perth in 15 seconds after I clicked on "Send Application" button on Seek.com. So your contact details have to be visible on every page and easy to navigate to. Do provide your email, phone, Github and LinkedIn. Encourage agents to call you in your email/cover letter by phrase: ready for immediate chat and interview. Don't fool yourself by empty expectations, if you're interested to an agent she will call you in 10 minutes MAX just about finishing her morning soy flat white.

🤜 Best practice: Copy you contacts to "header" and "footer" to increase its visibility for HR agent. It's a common UX Design practice - when a user reaching the bottom of the page point him to the next action... Yes! To call you! Boom!

6. Get rid of irrelevant details

Remember, people don't care about your personal life. They digging gold like gnomes from Moria, launching new SaaSes, organising IPO and cracking brains how don't f*ck up that 5 million round A investment. Your personal life is their last priority. They will open your personality when they start to respect you. Until that don't pollute your resume with your hobbies.

🤜 Best practice: Always stay professional. It will help you to pop out from a horde of Apple haters, D&D players and GoT lovers with ease of bubble sorting.

7. Don't spend time to cover letter

You are a dev, not a journalist. That's your code that matters and you honestly have other things to focus on (like noodling with Reactive programming or Golang routines in your sandbox - yeah!). Compile a simple version of a welcome letter with your name, when you available for an interview and attach your resume. That's it.

8. A/B test it, test it, test it

Stop guessing. Start learning from the market. Use A/B testing for your resume as you would do that for your landing page.

A/B testing (also known as split testing or bucket testing) is a method of comparing two versions of a webpage or app (or resume for us) against each other to determine which one performs better.

🤜 Best practice: Prepare two versions of a resume with different layouts or skill clouds. Separate your applications in two buckets (by city, time, company sector). Calculate the RRR (resume response rate) and stick with a winner.

Where could I find an example of A/B tested developer resume?

Recently one of my friends asked me to check his full stack dev resume and provide some advices how to improve it. He did know I've been A/B tested my resume for the last 3 years here in Perth, Western Australia and just landed a 6 figure job a couple of months ago. The result of the A/B test was mind-blowing - the final version of the resume got 90% more responses from recruiters and companies than the version I've start my test with!

Thanks 🙌 for reading and good luck on your the interview!
Check 1400 FullStack Interview Questions & Answers on 👉 www.fullstack.cafe

Posted on by:

aershov24 profile

Alex 👨🏼‍💻CodeStack.Cafe

@aershov24

👋 Product enthusiast. FullStack Dev. 🇦🇺 Currently working on: ◀️ www.CodeStack.cafe ▶️ Your Coding Interview Pain Killer

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Discussion

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Good advice.

As others have alluded, applying for jobs fresh out of university and mid-career are very different beasts. Early on you're going to rely heavily on school projects, part-time jobs, trivial personal projects, etc.

Addressing two different audiences (HR and then technical staff) is a must. Many HR staff don't have a technical background and are looking for keywords from a list they were given with the JD.

Be concise. Every couple of months I see a resume that reads like Beowulf. A paragraph of flowing prose to say they "fixed bugs".

Be memorable. 90% of resumes for a position are similar (not a real statistic). Anecdotes:

  • A friend of mine really wanted a job at a particular company. He painstakingly "embellished" his resume- doodled all over it. Of course he got an interview (and later an offer as well).
  • One morning at 9 AM a young lady rang our company doorbell and said she was here for her interview. We said nothing was scheduled. She said she didn't have an appointment and wanted to interview and here was her portfolio. Of course she got an interview (and job).

Don't lie. If you get caught in a lie it's game over. The rest of your application doesn't even matter.

 

I completely disagree with this entire post. You can't exibit technical ability by hiding behind resume fluff. Any decent dev manager will see this a mile away and may actually hurt your chances more than help.

 

While there may be different opinions regarding the usefulness of the author's tips and they will probably be more effective in certain cultures and contexts than others, I think he was rather honest in stating that the point of a CV is to get you an interview, not the job. Of course you still need to prove your skills in the interview process.

Where I live, most of the time somebody in HR is filtering the CVs and making first contact, and the dev manager only sees the CV once a first interview is scheduled. Thus, the goal of the CV is to peek the recruiter's interest, not the dev manager's.

 

It can be useful for developers trying to get a foothold in industry. Entry-level coding jobs have bad HR screening where the HR blindly checks resumes for certain keywords and bins the non-conforming ones. The result is an arms race of adding more and more keywords to resumes.

Once you have your first job, the situation is different. In such a situation, more keywords attract spammy recruiters/bots.

I agree with your point of being careful before sending such a resume. Best advice will be to read the job description carefully. If it is buzzword heavy, keep a buzzword heavy resume ready to send.

 

Useful! Thanks <3

I've only worked in one internship so far, so do you think it would be OK to include work I've done for my school's computer club? (I made a couple of interesting projects for the club that got me hired for the internship in the first place). If yes, how do you think I should put them in? Should I put them in like regular work experience?

 

The ONLY time you include personal details is when the job calls for skills that you've done in your hobby that you havent been able to practice in a paid gig - this is usually softer skills, for example, maybe you havent done any management at work, but the job you want requires it, so you include your time in scouts where you led a team, or such.
That said - you're effectively talking about a side gig. Side gigs demonstrate you are really passionate about your career (with the minor quibble of don't make them worry you'll never be in the office because you are working on it instead... :)) and can be really useful to demonstrate a skill the job requires that you are still building.
If its relevant to the ad - go for it :)

 

Even if you decorate your CV like that you still have to pass the technical interview and check if you like the company you apply for. There is no magic bullet.

 

An approach that worked for me for pretty much my entire career was: "be your resume". I participate in FOSS, blog and have material published on different websites, was an all-time top 10 user for my main programming language on StackOverflow, organized user groups, spoke at events etc. Because of that, I never really needed a CV, since I either got contacted by recruiters or opportunities came up through my (extended) network.

I'm not saying this cause I think I'm special, everyone could have done the above, e.g. my first regular open source contributions were fixing typos and adding/improving docs. If you put in the work, results follow. No amount of CV optimization makes up for actually knowing your stuff.

 

My previous comment was from the point of view of the person getting hired, but let me also add the perspective of someone who has been interviewing/making hiring decisions for the last 10+ years:

1) Unless a CV is ridiculously bad, I'll most likely invite the applicant for an in-person interview. The ability to condense a professional life's worth of experience into 1-4 A4 pages makes for a poor selection criterium IMHO.

2) For the in person interview, I generally request candidates to bring a computer and some code they're allowed to show me (hobby project or former job is fine). I then ask them to walk me through a piece of code they're either very proud or ashamed of. I don't much care about the code they show me, but about how they talk about it, what thoughts are going into the analysis etc.

3) I try to ascertain how good a fit for the team someone would be. I can teach someone to be a better programmer, I can't teach them to be a nicer person, that was their parents' job.

4) It's more likely than not that I'll offer candidates a probation period. People are different and not everyone handles interviews well. There's no better way to figure out if you want to work with someone than actually working with them. Where I live competition for talent is extremely high right now, so it comes down to the opportunity cost of missing a potential good developer because they are introverts who don't do well in interviews.

 

I then ask them to walk me through a piece of code they're either very proud or ashamed of

What would you say is the rate of people picking proud or ashamed? I immediately thought of a few places I've been meaning to refactor that I'd love to talk out why they suck and how I'd do it better (assuming I ever got the time to do so)

 

Hard to say, but more people pick some old code they'd rather refactor than something they are very proud of.

 

"Helping Realine Project to launch 2 SPA apps (MEAR Stack, 500 reqs/sec) that increased user's engagement by 35%". -> WOW! That guy is awesome!

I see how you got the title of this post :D

 

Hey! I've noticed that in this post you use "guys" as a reference to the entire community, which is not made up of only guys but a variety of community members.

I'm running an experiment and hope you'll participate. Would you consider changing "guys" to a more inclusive term? If you're open to that, please let me know when you've changed it and I'll delete this comment.

For more information and some alternate suggestions, see dev.to/seankilleen/a-quick-experim....

Thanks for considering!

 

Constructive post. I like the point: Stop DOing, start ACHIVEing. I should change my Resume according to this tip.

Thanks.

 

"ACHIVEing"

is misspelled. Just FYI, not trying to be negative. :)

 

Regarding point 2, I've always believed skill clouds to be worthless. Could you elaborate on how different was the response between having it and not having it, and why you think it works?

 

I even find the name horrendous

If I was looking at a CV with a big list of keywords my eyes would roll heavily.

It gives me no indication of how proficient you are with them or what you've actually done with them.

Not only that but specific experience in technologies, whilst interesting; are not the most important thing to me. If a person is clever, they'll be able to learn it on the job anyway

 

Yeah I don't want 90% response rate. I just want the 10% best companies.

 

It's awesome!!.Thanks for sharing your experience.