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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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What are your tips for an effective developer resumé?

What are your dos and don'ts for an effective resumé?

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grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev • Edited
  1. Remove the “skill level bars”, I have no idea what “80% skill in HTML” is.
  2. Keep your job history succinct, I don’t need to know about your first work placement unless you did something awesome there(or you have very little experience and this is your first job of course!) Focus on skills you used in that job that apply to the role you are applying for.
  3. Don’t be too adventurous with your CV (should be number 1), Word doc is still the best way to present a CV as they are often sent through automated screening processes and your static image embedded in a PDF will not be understood by a computer.
  4. Don’t list every technology you have ever done “hello world” in. Put your top 5 technologies, I won’t believe you are an expert in 25 technologies at 19 years old, also don’t use logos write the actual names (you can put the logos next to the names if you want).
  5. Make sure to link to your socials, GitHub etc if you have them, they will try and find you anyway. Or link to pet / professional projects that you have done a significant part of so people can see your code.
  6. Only list hobbies if they are interesting, reading and going to the cinema have no significance as far as an employer is concerned.
  7. Try and showcase how you can work in a team and solve problems when writing about your work history, also try and tailor the descriptions of activities to match the job you are applying for.
  8. Make sure your contact information stands out!!
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matthewbdaly profile image
Matthew Daly

Don’t be too adventurous with your CV (should be number 1), Word doc is still the best way to present a CV as they are often sent through automated screening processes and your static image embedded in a PDF will not be understood by a computer.

I don't disagree, but I'm of the opinion that it's more important to be able to present your CV in the appropriate format than to actively maintain it in that format.

I maintain my CV as a Markdown file using Emacs Orgmode. That way I can keep it in version control, I can convert it to HTML and style it easily, and I can use Pandoc to generate versions of it in Word and PDF format as needed.

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kavyaj profile image
kavyaj

Hey Matthew,
Just noticed that you used Markdown for your CV. I've worked on a similar side project where you can create your CV with Markdown. Would love for you to try it and share with me if you have any thoughts:
resumey.pro/

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bam92 profile image
Abel Lifaefi Mbula

Congratulations for your project. Can you check your footer for the year?

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kavyaj profile image
kavyaj

Thanks Abel!

Ah yes haha, thanks for highlighting it!

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grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev

You are right, there is some nuance to what I am saying but it was a comment not an article and it would need a lot of explanation lol! 🤣

They way you have it set up is great and, as you said, some other formats may be appropriate in some circumstances, I was trying to give the best “for 90% of circumstances” advice.

I like the idea of having version control on a CV, should go one step further and build a tool that lets you have a list of skills / experience items and then it lets you select the ones relevant to the job role you are applying for, that would be epic!

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ziker22 profile image
Zikitel22 • Edited

I would go even harder on number 6. Dont include your hobbies at all.
It sounds harsh but truth is recruiters just dont care.

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cicirello profile image
Vincent A. Cicirello • Edited

If including a hobby would cause resume to need an extra page, don't include it. If there is something more relevant that fits, then go with the more relevant thing instead obviously.

However, one line with a hobby or two at the very end has been useful to me personally long ago in the past on two occasions. The first was in 1995 while as an undergrad. I listed bowling. It was while interviewing for co-op positions (Drexel University where I went has a required co-op program). After talking about relevant stuff, the interviewer (president of company) mentioned bowling and we just talked informally a bit. I was offered the position, along with 14 others, and I went with this one over the others at least partially due to the friendliness of interview.

Two weeks into the job, the company organized a bowling outing. I don't think it was coincidental as multiple people already knew I bowled who I hadn't directly told.

The second useful time was in 2005 while interviewing for faculty positions. Faculty CVs are much longer than a typical resume---they have stuff like publication lists, grants, course development, etc (anywhere from 10 to 50 pages depending on experience). Near bottom of last page of around 20 or so pages I still listed bowling even though I hadn't been in leagues for a few years. After a long interview day, giving presentations and various meetings, during dinner with search committee, one committee member commented on that which lead to less formal discussion which was a welcome change of pace after 8 hours of interviewing. This is where I still work today 17 years later.

A hobby on your resume isn't going to get you an interview. But it might lead to a higher quality interview, whether it be an interviewer using it as an icebreaker to put you at ease, or in both of these examples an interviewer using it later in the interview. Hobbies are usually off-limits to interviewers (e.g., it's in a list of things we're not allowed to ask about during interviews at my institution). By including on resume, you give interviewer something they can potentially use to improve your interview experience that they otherwise can't bring up.

So if you have a spare line available at very end, it is fine to include a hobby. Just make sure all of the important job related stuff is more prominent, and don't sacrifice anything relevant to the job to make space for it.

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mellen profile image
Matt Ellen-Tsivintzeli

No, you don't understand. Commanding my orc army makes me great management material

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grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev

🤣🤣❤️

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dougmckechie profile image
Douglas McKechie

True, but do recruitment agents care about anything other than getting their commission? - lol

More seriously: As a hiring manager I disagree. Team fit is almost as important as technical skills, if the candidate happens to have some hobbies that crossover with others in the team or might bring benefits to the company then that is interesting to know.

Also I think its healthy to know that people have hobbies an interests outside of sitting in front of a computer coding all day. I think it makes for a more well-rounded person.

Finally, one of the key reasons I got my current job is because I mentioned that I attended Toastmasters as a hobby. One of the owners of the company knew what that was and thought it was great I was involved with an organization to help improve public speaking skills. They happened to be looking for someone who could communicate clearly not just code.

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grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev

You are right…but, when you get to interview stage it is nice for some interviewers if they have an ice breaker, so it is more for then!

However if I had to choose between every other section and this one I would certainly say ditch this one! 👍❤️

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ardunster profile image
Anna R Dunster

I've seen contrary advice from people who do a lot of hiring, although it's been a while and I don't have a source offhand. I think a couple lines to show you have a unique personality if you have space for it isn't a bad idea. But only if they're interesting or unique, or can be made to sound that way.

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pinotattari profile image
Riccardo Bernardini

To be honest, I saw both schools

  • "Yes! Include hobbies! You are a person, not a robot! Haven't you some personality?!?"
  • "Do not include hobbies! I do not care about them! You must work, not play"
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ardunster profile image
Anna R Dunster • Edited

I guess it depends on the company and the interviewer(s). Conversely, I'd rather work for someone who views me as a person, than someone who views me as a robot. So, if adding hobbies at all is a mark against me getting an interview, I'm probably better off. (This is nuanced of course given that there is a spectrum from "wow, this person totally overshared, trash" to "Who cares about you your hobbies? trash")

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jalvaradosegura profile image
Jorge Alvarado

I totally agree with all of them. I would maybe add: keep it under 1 page.

What do you think?

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waylonwalker profile image
Waylon Walker

I've never seen anything good come out of multiple pages.

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grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev

Great suggestion / addition ❤️🦄

although “aim for one page” just for nuance, as sometimes you do need the space if you had a particularly complex role / depending on the role applying for!

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waylonwalker profile image
Waylon Walker

resume`s with every single technology possible for every single area just smell of someone keyword vomiting and actually has very little idea about how to use any of them because they have yet to specialize.

If you list half a dozen databases and your last few roles are centered around being a DBA I'll probably believe it.

If you list every front end framework, back end framework, database, cloud, language, os, it smells like lack of specialization.

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shackra profile image
Jorge Araya

regarding your point 5, should people put their pronouns on their bio to virtue-signal to any potential employer?

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grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev

I would certainly say it depends on the employer and your view on adding them (which I would guess is you don’t like it from the wording so don’t bother or worry about it!)

FAANG or places like DEV absolutely include them if you feel comfortable doing so, smaller teams, probably not.

I would say that is one to decide when you explore the culture of a potential work place.

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sean9999 profile image
Code Monk

dang! I use skill level bars. I thought it was a nice visual way to order competencies from "best at" to "worst at". Of course it's not an exact science. It's a self assesment. It's like saying "I'm really good at Go, pretty good at HTML, not bad at Ruby, and I really like Rust but I'm new to it and don't fully understand it"

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grahamthedev profile image
GrahamTheDev

Hehe, don’t worry I have made most of these mistakes myself. The problem with them is actually worse than I made out. If you put a bar at full then your are signalling you know everything and that sets unrealistic expectations and leaves you wide open! If you put 75% then it looks like you have a lot to learn still as 1 in 4 questions you can’t answer. Neither of the scenarios work well so better to just leave them off. 👍

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xanderyzwich profile image
Corey McCarty

Not only does the reader not know what 80% JavaScript means, the writer doesn't know how much of something that they don't know.

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etienneburdet profile image
Etienne Burdet

Posted my answer before reading this one… 100% agreed.

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idrdani profile image
Idrdani • Edited

Thanks for sharing such a useful point it will help in future when I try to build my resume. Site

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scottshipp profile image
scottshipp

At my last two companies, I interviewed developers from all levels, intern to lead. The advice I'm going to share here is directed toward the interview loop, so it may be somewhat different than what you're used to seeing since most of the standard advice is about getting an interview in the first place.

First tip: Keep your resume to a single page unless you're a special case. If you're a special case, still keep your resume to a single page. I am going to read your resume, but I will only read the first page.

Second tip: What do I want to see on that first page? I want to see how you brought business impact to the last three companies you worked at. You have about ten minutes and maybe thirty lines to show off your proudest best-of-the-best achievements. Please don't waste them with any of the all too common throwaway statements like:

  • "Designed and implemented features."
  • "Fixed bugs."
  • "Deployed releases."

Here is a template you can follow, which I got from Lazlo Bock's book Work Rules (he was the head of people at Google):

Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z]

A good example bullet point on your resume is something like:

  • "Increased customer acquisition 15% as measured by new account registrations by redesigning the account sign-up page flow."

Third tip: Follow business impact with the technical details and name the tools, frameworks, libraries, etc. that were used. Don't include anything you aren't prepared to talk about with details. The business context and impact is more important than the technical details because that's what determines whether or not your solution was good or not.

When we talk about your technical solution in its business context, I will hear how you think, and find out what constraints you had to work in and how you balanced making a business impact within those constraints, through the application of said technology.

Final tip: If your resume was awesome and your in-person was awesome, then that is when I will go back to my desk and look at your professional site, GitHub or whatever else you may have linked from your resume.

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eybbus profile image
Eyþór Freyr Óskarsson • Edited

Accomplished [X] as measured by [Y] by doing [Z]

I really don't get this. This just feels way more bullshit marketing thing. I would rather have the "throwaway statements". It actually tells me what you were doing in that job and does it quickly. The "xyz" is also not feasible for a lot of people since they don't have access to metrics like those.

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scottshipp profile image
scottshipp

If written well, the Z is the "throwaway statement" but along with X and Y it explains how you brought value. This "value" doesn't make sense to a lot of developers because what developers appreciate most is hack value. But managers and directors appreciate business value instead.

Let me give a couple examples that hopefully help expand on the idea and show that you can include Z for hack value while also showing business value with X and Y:

  • Made 100 more developer hours available each year by implementing a data pipeline in Akka and Spark that gave business stakeholders the ability to dynamically retrieve data insights and eliminated ad-hoc service requests for data.

  • Improved customer experience, as measured by an average 150ms lower latency in service responses, by using JMeter and JVisualVM to identify and remove bottlenecks in a Java service.

  • Saved operating costs as measured by $100,000 lower AWS spend for 2020 by migrating services to the more performant Play! Framework and RxJava libraries, thereby reducing the size of service pools.

Hope it helps.

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ubervincent profile image
Vincent Lam

This actually makes a lot of sense. I just started out in my career but it really helps me to see what value my work actually bring

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hrishio profile image
Hrishi Mittal • Edited
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andresbecker profile image
Andres Becker

Make it highly scannable. Assume I won't read it carefully, but will definitely appreciate it being easy to read.

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warwait profile image
Parker Waiters

Create some information architecture for skills you might have. If you're applying for a dev job, and you want to point out other software skills, like photoshop — don't mash it together with your python skills.

If your skills section is too "flat" someone might read into it as "oh, this person is way too much of a generalist", are they specifically skilled as a python developer?

You can have those other skills, but just make sure to present them in a way that reads well to someone who is going to only quickly glance at the document.

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missamarakay profile image
Amara Graham

I'm a hiring manager, so I have a slightly different angle on this.

I think most of my advice is centered around "don't make me think". You want your resume to be so easy to read and parse that an HR system or a person can easily skim and find what they need.

List your technology, products, operating systems, frameworks, programming languages, etc. clearly. This should evolve overtime since you may write C in a university program and then never again, just like you may eventually decide you want to specialize in a particular JS framework.

Similarly, for projects and experience you may want to bold the items above if written in sentences.

Also for projects or experience, write exactly what you did on the team, not what the team did as a whole. It's more impactful if you write "led release automation" than "executed the full project lifecycle" or something cumulative. In the interview you can tell me a quick summary of what the whole team did if it necessary.

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harikayedidi profile image
Harika Yedidi

Do

  1. Keep it one page by listing your latest work experience on the top. One tip to keep it short is to list only relevant job experiences
  2. Create a resume website if possible so you can add any additional details into the website and you can also showcase your portfolio on it.
  3. In addition to contact information, add links to your GitHub and other social profiles- LinkedIn or Twitter.

Don’t

  1. Do not write paragraphs of your work experience. Use Bullets to describe the work you did. One thing that really helped me is starting every sentence with an adjective - Developed abc using xyz, architected xxx, Designed, Automated etc
  2. Do not use small fonts to fit in a lot of information. Use good readable font with size 12 or above.
  3. Do not list all the skills that you have, only list the ones that you are proficient with that relate to the job.
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waylonwalker profile image
Waylon Walker

If you list your github, I will probably poke through it. If its good I might get excited, if its not, i am not going to really hold that against you as its likely all side projects you are not getting paid for.

If I find dangerous stuff in there like leaked passwords, tokens, or keys in plain sight, I am going to recommend not calling back for an interview. I want people on my team that I can trust above all else.

Most of the time When I poke through someone's gh profile, it was all one commit repos, from a few days ago, and half the code is commented out. I'm not really going to get excited either way for this.

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anishhegde profile image
Anish Hegde

I have spent considerable time reading resumes on the interview panel, doing resume reviews and talking to recruiters and here are some things that will help folks stand out.

Some pre-conditions

  1. Recruiters spend only a few seconds on each resume to see if you are a fit.
  2. Most Recruiters and Hiring managers are looking for specific skills.
  3. Some applicant tracking systems and recruiters use something they call a "Boolean" to filter based on specific keywords.
  4. Humans are attracted to numbers and results.

You can now leverage this information to improve your resume.

Some steps that will help you stand out.
1. Sections:
If you have any experience, add it before any other section on the resume. Make sure the top half of the resume is crisp and gives the right set of information to the reader.

2. Target:
Hiring managers and the team spend a lot of time crafting Job Descriptions. Take a look at it and see if your resume is missing some relevant skills and add a point around it in your resume if it applies.

If you are applying to an Android role, have mostly Android related projects and experience points. Some resumes tend to have a lot of different technologies and projects that does not align with the role.

3. Experience Points:
Experience Section is a great place to talk about what you did and how it impacted the business you worked at. Use numbers and other quantifiers to drive a solid point related to your previous work. This will help catch the recruiter's attention and show how impactful you have been. Read the wiki on STAR format.

4. A/B Test
Some of these tips will help you, but it is always better to test if your resume is working for you. If it does, double down on it or else modify and try.

These are some tips that I followed in the middle of the pandemic to get a bunch of offers from big tech companies and startups and I hope it helps someone here.

Based on my job search journey and challenges I ended up building an app resumepuppy.com with my classmates to help others land interviews. If anybody checks it out, happy to hear feedback.

All the best!

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rolfstreefkerk profile image
Rolf Streefkerk

"Recruiters spend only a few seconds on each resume to see if you are a fit."
I've never understood this attitude, and I never will. You want to hire good people, you have to invest some time to understand what people have done and in a few seconds this cannot be done.

However I do agree, the resume needs to capture the attention of the reader within the first few paragraphs of whatever structure that has been applied.

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anishhegde profile image
Anish Hegde

I agree with you on this! If you want to hire great people you need to be able to put in the extra effort to get signals from the resume.

From what I understand, this issue is usually for internships, new-grad and other entry-level jobs. These job postings get 1000s of resumes and the recruiters need to sift through them pretty quickly.

I do see that there are tech solutions trying to help recruiters here and I hope it gets better over time so that deserving candidates get interview calls.

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kavyaj profile image
kavyaj

Few things from my end:

We would need to understand what recruiters look for. Regardless of ATS (applicant tracking system) or a human reviewing your application, here's what they typically look for in a resume:

  1. Your tech stack - how relevant your technical skills are, to the role. While some skills are easy to pick up, recruiters tend to favour candidates whose tech stack matches their requirements
  2. Relevant experience - how many years and in what capacity have you worked in the past. This is taken as an indication of how you may contribute in the future at the hiring manager’s company.
  3. Clear & concise resume - if it is too long, recruiters may even skip reading it.

With this in mind, I would:

  • make it easy to read with bullets, tech stacks, project details
  • keep it short & concise, don't overwhelm with info
  • recruiters (& ATS) are experts at keyword search, even if they don't understand technical nuances. I would add relevant keywords based on the job description.
  • add tech stack at the bottom of every employment
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xtineskim profile image
Christine Kim

When I was a university student applying for internships, I found that including my personal projects and hackathon experience helped showcase my technical knowledge when I had no "technical experience". But describe them in a professional manner (for ex, don't add "Founder of app XYZ", unless it actually has customers)

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waylonwalker profile image
Waylon Walker

Get some reccomendations as close to the person as who is hiring you as you can. I've really made some great impressions with this in the past.

Don't make it too long, list the roles you have had, what made you great at them, and the value you brought.

Give an actual message to the person trying to hire you. Tell them why you want to be there, and why you are a great person for the role. Let them know you did your research for the position, and what value you can bring to them. It's more about selling yourself to this person than just selling yourself.

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xanderyzwich profile image
Corey McCarty
  • Avoid multiple columns. Software readers can completely miss anything not in the left column.

  • Use keywords wherever you can fit them in. Tools, languages, deployment environments, use keywords that are popular in the job listings that you are seeing for your desired new positions.

  • Front load the things that make you look better. If you have a degree then put it near the top half, and explain what things you did in completion of that degree that make you a good developer. If you are light on experience, but have lots of projects then you should have a projects section. This is especially beneficial as it allows you to fit in lots of keywords.

  • When describing a job/position you write the bullet points as achievements. These achievements should explain the goal achieved and the means of accomplishing it.

  • If you use a summary/objective then it should be specific to you and not things that EVERY developer could say about themselves.

Watch this video:

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felipeazucares profile image
Phil Suggars

Not sure if this is different in the US, but for a UK CV, rather than list all the projects you've worked on, (and If you have the experience), try to quantify the business impact that your efforts have had. So rather than, "developed new error module for Cyberdyne" try "Increased sales of T-999 units by optimising workflow with new error module built on the HARM stack."

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etienneburdet profile image
Etienne Burdet
  • Keep it short and relevant: no need to put every single framework in there. Aim right for every single application.

  • Keep it very objective: "Did XXX project in Rails as a junior dev" is, "Security Expert" is not, skills bar/graph aren't either. Subjective things belongs to your cover letter, personnal website, social network. I include pictures of you in "not objective" (for countries where people add it).

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