Resume Writing Tips for Developers to Advance Your Career

Written By Makeda Waterman

One of the most time-consuming parts of a career in programming is rewriting a resume to fit each job post found in the pursuit of a new job. A technical mind can write an award-winning technical report at work, but the art of writing a resume can be challenging.

Have no fear. This article will discuss best practices, common mistakes, and advice for crafting an effective software developer resume. On average, most recruiters receive about 250 resumes for each online job posting. That means we have less than 3 percent chance of being called for an interview, with an even lower chance of being hired for the job. It is essential to write a resume that will stand out from your competition.

The Software Programmer Resume Format

It takes a recruiter less than one minute to scan a programmer resume and to start a short list of eligible candidates for an interview. A resume format with dark colors for the heading with a column of content to the right of the article is more appealing to the eye than a general resume.

The art of writing a resume is to format the resume using a chronological, functional, or combination format. I recommend you think about what to write before you begin because it will need a combination of technical skills with qualitative data, interpersonal skills, achievements, volunteer work, or freelance experience to stand out from the pile of resumes recruiters often receive. As a recruiter scans your resume, it has to tell a story of your past, present, and where you plan to be in the future. The headlines or section headers to add to the resume include the following:

  • Professional Career Summary
  • Skills
  • Certifications
  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Software/technology programs (i.e., SAS Suite, Java, CSS)

These headings on a programmer’s resume will ensure a well-rounded or solid resume throughout the journey of your career.

Show Off Your Work With Links

Help a recruiter understand the value an organization will gain by hiring you. One way to accomplish an effective use of links is to show off your work by adding hyperlinks to an online portfolio, work samples, or blog posts to a programmer resume. Here are a few examples of links on a resume:

  • LinkedIn profile
  • PowerPoint presentation
  • GitHub link
  • StackOverflow link
  • Upwork Profile (Freelance work)

You can also use a hyperlink to point to software applications you’ve built in your current position. A resume without a link to prove talent can be set aside for a resume has work examples in the body of the document. It can save the employer time in searching for your online presence. Furthermore, it can help a recruiter make a quick decision to invite an applicant for an interview and create a digital shortlist candidates after the first set of meetings.

Resume Mistakes to Avoid

There are some common mistakes that software developers need to take care to avoid.

A software developer with a series of general development work experience needs to use a chronological resume. A chronological resume has the most recent work experience at the top and the highest educational degree at the top in chronological order. It is a good resume type for professionals with a history of contract work. You can avoid overlapping work experience with a chronological resume if you work full-time and complete freelance work, a small business, or projects on the side.

Start with the most recent or your present employer with your first work opportunity at the end. It is important to reference “contract position” in the work experience (when relevant) to avoid giving recruiters the impression of instability.

There is a misconception that your  ‘technical skills,’ with all technology you have worked on, needs should be the main focus of a resume. I recommend using emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills to show you are a human being with a passion for working in the industry.

The way to further your career is to be honest about your understanding of programming on a resume. The inclusion of certifications, online courses, and secondary institutional references is a sign you are well educated. However, exaggerating skills can result in starting a new job and not being able to perform as the hiring manager expected.

Start With a Summary

A summary of a career is a four to five sentence description that highlights a career which includes soft skills and technical skills with a few references to your ability to work effectively in a team. Here are a few ways to outline an opening summary:

  • Reference the number of years in an industry
  • Present skills in training employees
  • Enhance tech programs completed in your position

The ultimate goal is to craft the resume with no fluff; only include quantitative content that shows a human resource recruiter you are fit for the position. For example, “Designed a customer Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software that reduced administrative work by 35% in the first 90 days” is a powerful statement.

Highlight Personal or Freelance Projects

The resume of a software developer that shows personal or volunteer projects reflects a level of determination. It can be challenging to balance personal projects and work, but human resources will see the true love you have for the work.

A project can be a JavaScript assignment for a client or creating a website with unique technology. If you have too many time constraints to run a small business or volunteer, take on a smaller new project to show recruiters the impeccable work you have to offer. I recommend a section under the heading ‘Special Projects’ or ‘Freelance Projects’ with the name of the client or organization, term, and a description of how your work benefited the company.

Showcase Interpersonal Skills

An emphasis on technical skills for a professional in your field is essential. However, companies also need to hire a programmer that is a people person. An efficient way to write interpersonal skills is listed below:

  • Active verbs: developed, organized, invented, delivered, elevated, and revolutionized are good examples.
  • Leadership: projects you lead, new hires trained, or executives you worked with to design in-house software.
  • On-time projects: paint a picture through words by referencing a time-sensitive assignment met with delays.
  • Recruiters want to help hiring managers find programmers with the confidence to take on new challenges. They are looking for a people person that can prove the results of their hard work and how that work positively impacted a company.

Advance Your Career Now

A winning resume is one written with personality, creativity, color, a resume template, and links to prove quality of work. Remember to highlight interpersonal and emotional intelligence skills to reflect your ability to work effectively with executives, management, or end users.

A programmer with freelance or volunteer projects on the side shows an individual that is ready to use their talents to help the community. As your career continues, remember to tailor the resume based on the job description; otherwise,  a hiring manager will be able to tell it is a document that is used for other opportunities listed online.

Overall, be creative in the way the resume is written and avoid using a sample resume of another programmer professional found online. Recruiters want to see personality and a person with the ability to articulate their experience that tells them how you can benefit the organization. A resume that has less technical experience examples with a focus on emotional intelligence and that relates to the client or end user is one that will get noticed.