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6 tips for your developer resume

gmelodie profile image Gabriel Cruz (he/him) ・4 min read

1. It should look alike

When you shop at an e-commerce store you expect it to look like Amazon or Ebay and there's a reason for that: we are lazy people. When you're browsing for a new pair of pants you don't want to stop and learn how to browse every particular e-commerce website. In the same way, an employer doesn't want to learn how your resume is structured (especially considering they have hundreds of others to go through). Make their life easier. Use a somewhat standard software engineer template.

Credits: "Don't make me think", Steve Krug

2. Write an initial version

All the tips mentioned here won't work unless you have an initial version of your resume. I know, you want to get it right the first time. Well, you won't. Begin with a good template and improve from there.

3. Get it dirty

I know we're in the middle of a global pandemic, but the best thing you can do to improve your resume is print it out and send it to as many people as possible. Now I know this could be a sanitary issue, so you better email it instead.

Seriously, though, getting feedback is really important. Mostly because what your resume is supposed to do is leave a good impression on an employer. Feedback helps you understand the impressions people have when they look at your resume.

Send it to your parents, past employers, work or student colleagues. Everyone.

4. Take feedback with a grain of salt

Feedback always comes from a particular perspective. Some people will say you should put your name in the center of the page, others will tell you to right-justify and others will go as far as to say, god forbid, that left-justified names are amazing.

Now where your name goes is no big deal, the important thing is that you absolutely need to have your name at the top of your resume. These are the things you should be worrying about.

Another good tip here is to pay more attention to comments that are similar. If Bob hates your font and thinks you need to add an "Experience" section where Alice loves your font but also thinks you need an "Experience" section, then use whatever font you like but include the damn "Experience" section, because that is probably more important than your font being Arial 12 or Sans Serif 10.34.

The more feedback you have, the easier it is to take those decisions (because you have more outside, unbiased information.

5. Not everyone's gonna dig it

Some will say it has too much information, some will say there's too little. Bob will hate the fonts, Alice will love them. Might as well face it: not everyone's gonna dig your resume.

The only person that has to completely like your resume from top to bottom is you, so stop trying to make it perfect to everybody. Instead, make it okay to everybody and awesome to you.

6. It should look like you

Remember I told you to make your resume similar to others? Well, now that you've taken feedback from all sorts of different people and analyzed it to figure out what of it is important and what is subjective, you are free to go crazy on the parts that are subjective and really make this resume your own. If you're a designer, include colors and change the layout to show you know how to design a good resume. The resume should look professional and like others, but it should also look like you! It is you, after all.

My ideal resume

I thought it'd be a good idea for me to share my personal preferences for a software engineer resume. This is the stuff I tell you to take with a grain of salt, so please do so.

  1. Big name on top of the page and contact information right under (Github, Linkedin and email are a MUST).

  2. Education: Put this first if you have some really important education experience like a college degree. This shouldn't take too much space, the employer just wants to know whether you have a course, they don't care a lot about your grades (unless it's an academic role).

  3. (Work) Experience: by far the most important part of your resume. Use bullet points:
    3.1. What/how was the experience
    3.2. What you did (include technologies)
    3.3. What impact you had (people love numbers, especially big ones!)

  4. Skills: This is where you put a lot of keywords for ATSs (Applicant Tracking Systems) to classify you. Include the following:
    4.1. Programming languages
    4.2. Tools (frameworks and other programs used for development)
    4.3. Natural languages (the languages you speak)

  5. Achievements/Awards: Small optional section where you add in any relevant prizes or distinctions you got.

Other quick tips

  1. Keep your resume to one page.
  2. No pictures of you on your resume. Ever.
  3. No progress bars to show experience, they are confusing. Be specific, instead, say how long have you been using a certain technology.
  4. Don't clutter your resume with irrelevant information just to fill the page, having blank spaces on your resume is not necessarily a bad thing.

Resources and further readings

Discussion (4)

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damjand profile image
Damjan Dimitrov • Edited

Hey! Thanks a lot for sharing these helpful tips and insights. I am curious to know why you think that pictures of you should never be put on the resume? I've seen this advice a couple of times before, does it have something to do with prejudice?

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gmelodie profile image
Gabriel Cruz (he/him) Author

Mostly because of prejudice yeah, but you can also think about it this way: a resume is something people will analyze to judge you for a role. Do you want your looks to be one of the criteria they take into account?

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stephanlamoureux profile image
Stephan Lamoureux

Yes, that's exactly why. There are some countries where this is the norm though. I think it's common in a lot of European countries to include a picture.

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canro91 profile image
Cesar Aguirre

I learned to use the first section as the highlighted section. That would be the first thing a recruiter would read. Depending on your experience, that would be either your work experience or education