How to Write a Resume for Developer Jobs
Developer jobs are widely available and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that they will grow 22 percent by 2022. That’s an additional 222,600 jobs that companies will be looking to fill with qualified candidates. According to PayScale, the average software developer salary is around $65,668 per year, with a reported annual salary range of $43,141 to $101,384. It's clear that developers are in demand and that it is a lucrative career, but you will want to ensure that your resume is up to par before submitting it to companies.
Applying for developer jobs is different than if you were applying in another industry outside of tech. Technology is a constantly evolving and rapidly changing industry, and you will need to make employers feel confident that you are up to date with your knowledge and skills set, and that you will continue learning and growing with the industry. Kailey Izard of Tech Talent South states, “Applying for jobs in the software development industry is a whole different animal than applying for many other jobs. It is about proving your abilities rather than stating them. A resume can get you an interview, but unlike financial, marketing, and other industries; in development and tech industries the real testament to your qualifications is the work you have done. It is entrepreneurial, proving that you are constantly evolving, are able to adapt to a rapidly growing industry, and most importantly that you can do what your resume says you can do. Clean, efficient code is the number one priority for recruiters and hiring managers.”
Here are some tips on how to write a resume for software developer jobs.
Although it may seem like obvious advice, read the job description closely when crafting your resume. If a job description mentions a number of skills and expertise you know you have, but they aren’t reflected on your resume, chances are you will be over looked. Read the description carefully and be sure to highlight all the applicable skills you have for that job in your cover letter. Skills that you have that are outside the job description can find their way in to your resume and cover letter, but if you are trying to conserve space, stick to the job description. Any other talents can be highlighted in the interview process.
Ashwin Bharath, Chief Operating Officer of eintern.com emphasizes that recruiters have less time to review resumes than in the past, “The average time a recruiter spends looking at a resume is getting very low so you want to make sure you grab the attention of the hiring manager. You want to have your resume catered to the job you are trying to get. So if you are applying for a programming job in Java, make sure you have a resume that highlights Java. If you are applying for a job in networking, make sure you have a resume that highlights networking. You should highlight the skills, but 90 percent of resumes aren’t focused on the job they are applying for.”
Formatting a resume for a developer position is crucial to the application process. Hiring managers are flooded with applicants, and many of them don’t have time to read a resume that is longer than one page. The best advice when formatting your resume is to keep it concise and focused, rather than long and generalized. It can be tempting to create one resume that you feel will fit any developer job you apply to, but taking the time to reformat your resume for each job will make a difference. You want to keep your resume down to one page if possible, so it will require creative formatting to ensure all your applicable skills make the cut, and knowing when to cut out information that isn’t relevant.
Skyler Slade, Co-Founder and CTO of Tandem emphasizes the importance of attention to detail when writing a developer resume, “This is a nitpick I know, but don't write 'JAVA' in all caps. Java isn't an acronym so don't write it as such. Details matter. Be consistent in your punctuation and formatting. Don't write that you're 'detail-oriented' when your own resume is internally inconsistent. Being able to follow coding standards is extremely important in a software development job, and how you format your resume will give insight into how you format your code.” Developers spend quite a bit of time sorting through lines of code and the simplest error can mean a lot. The same goes for your resume when applying to a developer job. A simple typo might be overlooked for an applicant in a different industry, but if you are applying to a job that requires a high attention to detail, it will start you off on the wrong foot.
Keeping your resume concise and focused to the job you are applying for is a great way to weed out skills and expertise the hiring manager won’t care about. David Collins, a recruiting manager at Addison Group recommends keeping a discerning eye on your skills, “Programmers have a tendency of creating lengthy resumes, because they are trying to squeeze every technology they have every worked on into one document. Focus the bullets on technologies that are in line with what job is being applied for. Don’t waste space on the resume about technologies that are not in line with [the] career objectives.”
If you’re a recent college grad, you run the risk of sending in a resume that looks just like every other resume coming out of your graduating class. Set yourself apart by ensuring you have worked on special projects outside of your typical education. Slade states, “If you're just out of school, be sure to take on a few side projects, or personal interest projects, and highlight these on your resume. I've interviewed dozens of software developers fresh out of school, and if all you have on your resume are the same class projects as everyone else -- you're not going to stand out.” Find ways to branch out and demonstrate your interest in developing outside of the classroom, whether its through internships, or projects you can pick up on the side.
Skills and Experience
Listing out every single one of your skills isn’t always the way to go when applying for a developer job. First, make sure you weed out any skills that are out of date and might take up precious real estate on your resume. It’s great if you worked with Windows 95, but a hiring manager isn’t going to care about out of date software. Keep skills and experience fresh and up to date; it also shows that you are constantly evolving with the industry and keeping on top of the latest programming languages, software, and hardware.
Another important factor to remember is that you will want to back up any skills with applicable experience. Backing up your skills is important because providing a hiring manager with your measurable results is a great way to show that not only do you have the skills, but you have applied them successfully in your current or past jobs. If you list out your skills, make sure you explain somewhere on your resume how you have used those skills and what successes you have experienced as a result of your skill set.
Josh Ridgeway, Director of MSP Delivery at Kavaliro states, “A big problem with developer resumes is there is not enough information about specific experience with technologies. Often times we see developer resumes that have a section listed as 'technical skills' that covers all of the languages a developer has worked with. While that is a great, it's better to have that section in addition to specific detail about what you've done with Java or C#. An example of being specific about coding is something like developing banking application modules for a customer facing application using C# and ASP. NET code.”
Proving that your skills are applicable in real world scenarios can make the difference between your resume landing in the yes pile, rather than the no pile. Jenson Crawford, Director of Software Engineering at Crowd Ignite says that it’s more important to know what you personally have accomplished, rather than just reading a list of general developer skills. “Don’t tell me that you designed, wrote, and tested code for a particular company. Of course you did those things: you’re a developer. I don’t need to know what a developer does in general; I want to know what you in particular accomplished as a developer. Tell me about the business value that your work provided. ‘Launched a new social networking site in six weeks with two other developers,’ is far more informative than a generic job description.” Providing real life results and measurable metrics help the hiring manager imagine what you can bring to the company and it will make you seem more unique in a sea of other developers.
If something in the job description doesn’t exactly fit your listed skills, such as a computer science degree, make sure you explain why you have the right background for the job. Josh Tyler, VP of Engineering at Course Hero, Inc. states, “Make sure your degree and school are easy to find. If you don't have a traditional technical degree (such as CS), add a few words about your experience to explain why you're a good candidate.” Although you might not have a computer science background, if you have experience working with computers, you might be considered for the position anyway.
In the tech industry, certifications are a common way for developers to gain more experience in different programming languages, software, and hardware. It’s a way to stand apart and show that you specialize in certain areas and it will put you higher on the list if the job requests certain certifications. However, it’s important to make your certifications clear on your resume for both the human who will read the resume and the computer system that might pick yours out of a hundred other applications. Bharath suggests putting the logo in a prominent area to catch the eye of a hiring manager and to list it out somewhere on the application so a hiring system will pick it up as a keyword.
Most employers use automated systems to go through resumes; these systems pick up on keywords in order to cut down on the amount of resumes they receive. Therefore, it’s important to consider keywords when crafting your resume. While you want your resume to first appeal to the human eye, you also want to consider a computer’s algorithm. For example, if the job requires you to have a strong knowledge of Java, but you only list Java once on your resume, that might rank you lower in the list than other applicants who mention Java more than once in their resume. As Bharath states, “Applicant tracking systems have their own logic to find resumes and you want to make sure your resume has related keywords. You have to mention related keywords based on the job description to rank in the applicant tracking system. Keywords and up to date skills are extremely important to rank high in applicant tracking system.”
Trevor Smith, Manger of Web Development at Halogen Software highlights the importance of keywords on a resume, “If you are looking to pursue a programming job, then use words like Agile development process, or SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle), for example.” This goes back to reading the job description and picking up on the key words the company has provided. Your resume is what will get you in the door of a company and in your interview you can expand on skill sets you can offer that the job might not require.
In short, when writing a resume for a developer job, you will want to keep it concise, focus on the job description, and show measurable results of your past work. By following these guidelines, you should be able to make it to the top of the pile and get in the door for an interview. Check out openings on Monster to find developer jobs in your area.
Monster wants to know: What advice do you have for writing a resume for a software developer job? Tell us in the comments.