How to Write a Software Engineer Resume
What Is a Software Engineer Resume?
If you’re looking for a job as a software engineer then you must make your software engineer resume stand out from the crowd.
An emerging industry that continues to grow, becoming a software engineer is at the top of many people’s lists when it comes to a job, so ensuring your work experience is coherent is important.
Sometimes HR departments use various resume filters, such as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), to make sure they only review applications with relevant skills. Some engineers struggle to put down in words their achievements at the application stage in a way that lets them pass these filters.
Doing your homework is a big part of this process. Exploring what skills and work experience is needed for the role, through close reading of the job description, will make it easier for you when penning your resume.
Tailoring your resume to match the job description, for example by mirroring the wording, is good as it increases the chances of passing the ATS and allows the hiring manager to cross-reference your experience against the skills they are after.
Many candidates apply for the same role so make sure you highlight your relevant skills.
Whether you have started writing your software engineer resume or you want some extra inspiration on how best to showcase your skill set, this article will walk you through the process, including sample software engineer resume examples to help you on your journey to getting your dream job.
What Will an Employer Be Looking for in Your Software Engineer Resume?
Begin with any prior experience you have as a software engineer or developer. Note the tasks you took in each role and see how you can relate them to the job you are applying for.
However, if this is your first hurrah into software engineering then think carefully about the following points before applying:
- Why do you want to become a software engineer?
- How will you make the leap to the industry?
- What relevant qualities do you have to make you stand-out from experienced applicants?
Next, write a list to see how your education pairs up with what the company is looking for.
If you studied software engineering at college, make sure this is listed within the first section of your resume so the hiring managers know you have the necessary qualifications.
Do You Need a College Degree to Become a Software Engineer?
The quick answer to this is no.
As long as you have the technical abilities and have learned the language, so to speak, you can start transitioning to a job in software development.
Still, knowledge of computer science, mathematics and coding is a must.
Ensure your resume states how you obtained the necessary qualifications for the position.
Hiring managers will be looking at the language you use as well as your technical ability.
There are various courses and materials you can take to teach yourself, especially if you are looking for a career change. Learning software engineering is not a quick process so if this is something you want, put aside a good amount of time.
If you did major in computer science or mathematics, or have specialized training, this should be at the top of your resume.
Hiring managers want to see this information as quickly as possible. Therefore your resume’s layout and positioning are really important. Put your resume in reverse-chronological order with your most recent achievements first to save the hiring manager a lot of time.
Put a link to a portfolio of previous software engineering work available right at the top of your resume so they can see it as soon as they get it. It might also be a good idea to include any important moments in your career where your technical abilities have helped you solve tough problems – this shows proactiveness and forward-thinking.
I am an experienced software developer with over 4 years’ experience constructing pivotal programs for large-scale projects. I have helped to build Java-based applications and look forward to putting my skill set to the test.
Overall, your software engineer resume should include:
Personal Information – Put the correct contact details down so the hiring managers can get in touch.
Summary or objective – A summary of your work experience and skill set is an important introduction and should sit just below the resume header.
Work history – A summary of previous companies you have worked and the relevant experience you have obtained.
Skills – Write a detailed list of skills you have, especially technical abilities.
Key Skills to Include in Your Software Engineer Resume
The skill set of a software engineer can be vast and very technical. Put as many of your abilities on your resume as possible.
Here are a few important skills hiring managers are looking for in software developers:
Coding, tech and computer programming – Very integral to the role, so showcasing these hard skills are necessary. If you have specialized coding qualifications or have worked on bespoke software platforms in the past, highlight these. Use appropriate abbreviations where possible. Showing you know your PHP from your Python will impress hiring managers.
Communication and Team Work – Good communication is a must for working with different departments and teams. Working with other developers to maintain, develop and repair software, which makes such soft skills are important for ensuring everything goes smoothly.
Problem solving – A big part of being a software engineer is having the ability to use your technical, coding and communication skills to solve basic or intense software issues. Showcase your problem solving to help the hiring manager know your capabilities in tough situations.
Attention to detail – This soft skill is important to show as it can be used to prevent problems as well as fix them. If possible, use an example where attention to detail helped you fix an intense software issue that was delicate and needed your full attention.
Multi-tasking – Using various platforms and applications, you might have to maintain a variety of these at the same time as a software engineer. Use examples of when you had to manage multiple tasks at the same time, even if they were not software.
Specific skills mentioned in the job description – If there are specific skills or software mentioned in the job description, and you have them, make sure these are in your resume. You can use your cover letter to highlight them as well.
- The workflow processes you use
- Overall project management skills
- Any leadership experience you have
How to Write Your Software Engineer Resume
Remember that hiring managers have lots of applications to look through, so ensure your resume is clear and concise. Let them see what you are made of straight away.
Begin your resume with a header consisting of your full name as it appears on identification documentation, current job title and location. If you have an online portfolio or GitHub site, link to it here as well.
Whether you list yourself as a software engineer or software developer depends on what the company is looking for. Check the job description and tailor your resume.
Your location is not required, but it is recommended as hiring managers can determine commuting time and consider where you are in relation to their offices, unless it is a remote working job.
SHAUN TAYLOR – Software Engineer; Philadelphia, PA.
Github profile: github.com/ShaunTaylor
Summary or Resume Objective
A resume objective is, in a nutshell, an introduction into you, your experience and introduces a key element that sets you apart from anyone else.
The example below is clear, concise and offers a snippet of technical knowledge and a range of soft skills. It also shows motivation and explores how you have contributed to a team.
With over 7 years of experience in software engineering, I have a vast amount of technical knowledge in creating intermediate applications and have contributed my large-scale software experience to a wider team. I work well both independently or as part of a team and thrive on trouble-shooting problems with good attention to detail. Confident in using SQL, non-SQL and JAVA programs, I am keen to extend my knowledge even further and am ready for new challenges.
When summing up your skills, make sure to show as wide a range of experience as possible.
These might include:
Show how this work met specific project briefs.
You should also show all the programming languages you are familiar with. Among those more in demand are:
Have you used object-oriented design to complete projects? If so, aim to show how you incorporated:
Future employers will want to see evidence of your experience, so consider developing an online portfolio to showcase projects you have been involved with. Be ready to demonstrate:
- What libraries you are experienced with
- What tech stacks you have used
- What functionality you have built into software
- How clean your code is
It can be particularly valuable to show quantifiable results achieved for your current employer or clients.
Include any freelance or side projects you have completed to highlight the range of your experience. For example, have you contributed to any Open Source initiatives?
The skills and experience section of your resume is where the magic happens. This is what gets you the interview.
Now it is time to list your work experience. Go in reverse-chronological order so the employer can see your most recent (and relevant) experience and give some examples of work you did in each role.
04/2016 to 10/2019
San Diego, CA
- Architected a new platform with a team of fellow software developers
- Collaborated on several tracker applications for our key clients
- Used my JAVA experience to troubleshoot any systematic errors
This shows the hiring manager more than just a generic list of software developer attributes that they know already, making it more personalized.
This example shows how you have used teamwork to develop software and how you developed specific programs to help your previous client base, without including too many abbreviations or tech-heavy wording.
Qualifications and Education
You can list education and qualifications in a table or as a series of bullet points to save space.
If you have little to no experience, this article will be of help to you.
Stick to the facts and relevant educational establishments: generally, once you are past university it is not necessary to list your elementary school.
Bold the most relevant qualification and where you obtained said qualification. You can again highlight it in your cover letter, so use the resume formatting to your advantage.
Hobbies and Interests
This section, the last thing on the resume, can tell the hiring manager a bit about your personal interests and is your chance to show a bit of personality.
Keep it fresh and interesting but do not go over the top. One or two sentences will do.
My hobbies include mountain biking, reading, swimming and chess.
These show you have an adventurous spirit, motivation and like a challenge.
What if You Are New to Software Engineering?
Tailor the information and examples listed above if you’re new to the industry. Remember to take all the soft skills you have acquired in different jobs and show the employer how it relates to the role in question.
For hard skills, you can write how your technical abilities have grown and your efficiency in computing, even if you have never had a job in the industry.
Lack of experience is not a deal-breaker, provided you have the qualifications.
Top Tips for Writing Your Software Developer Resume
1. Who Are You Talking To?
Before drafting your resume, spend some time thinking about your wish list of employers – by sectors if not by specific company names. Then you can tailor the content of your resume properly towards your target audience.
Do you want to work for a software development giant, starting in a junior post with the promise of big promotions further along the way? Does salary matter most, or is job satisfaction your biggest motivator?
Perhaps you would be happiest starting with a small enterprise where you will be right in the middle of exciting new developments from day one? You may want to be sector-specific too, so you can develop software solutions in-house.
Being goal-oriented helps you to shape your software developer resume. If your initial targets don’t work out, you can always cast the net wider later.
2. Be Prepared to Change Your Resume
Your resume is not a fixed and rigid piece of communication. You should aim to make changes regularly to suit different job specs and employers.
Depending on the specific company or role you are applying for, you will want to highlight certain aspects of your experience to impress each one. The same information will not be relevant to every role or company.
3. Layout and Checks
Here are some of the most important software engineer resume layout tips:
Keep it to one page or, at most, two. If your resume is longer than that, employers might lose interest.
Check the layout for readability as a physical document but also for electronic transmission. Creating a PDF version of your resume is a good idea when sending by email, as it will keep all formatting intact. Remember to also make sure you’ve not used words or expressions that could be red flags for firewalls.
Proofread your resume, then do it again, and then get someone else to check it too. Spelling mistakes or poor grammar are not acceptable. In a UK audit of 20,000 online CVs, only one in ten was error-free. From an employer’s point of view, this shows a lack of care and attention to detail.
Keep things professional. If your email address is [email protected] or similar, this is the time to change it. When linking to social media, use your LinkedIn profile for further information, not a Facebook page full of party photos.
In other words, one of the best tips for software engineer resumes is that you do need to pay attention to the details.
CHere is a quick reminder of the best ways to ensure your resume bags you that software engineer job interview.
Keep it simple, making the advantages of employing you clear and easy to see.
Use keywords from the job description, and draw out skills that match the specific job vacancy or employer.
Showcase key software engineering experience and skills.
Check it multiple times to ensure errors don’t hold you back.
Don’t be afraid to show your soft skills too.
One last important tip on how to write a resume for software engineering – be honest. An eye-watering 75% of HR managers report uncovering lies on job applications. So boastful, inaccurate claims will not go undetected.