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Refactor Your Resume

This is mainly focused on people looking for early career programming jobs off-campus.

A lot of friends reach out to me for help with their resume. I also found myself advising the same stuff on a lot of Discord groups so I decided to write it up.

The Skills section

Prefer putting skills that are present in the Job Description first. Don't put everything you've barely worked with here. Showcase your best skills that you're confident enough in to be interviewed on.

A few categories of things that I've seen which are not required:

  • Deployment Tools (eg: Vercel, Netlify, Heroku): A lot of these platforms have single-click deploys. Having this says nothing apart from you being able to click a few buttons and write a bit of configuration.
  • Version Control (eg: git, Github): While these tools are very useful, I'd assume you know how to use this & aren't sending code through email in zip archives.
  • IDEs (eg: VSCode, Sublime Text): So, you can open up a text file in a program made to do that? Nothing special about it.
  • Productivity Tools (eg: Notion, Jira): Using text editors, task management apps are not skills that are going to impress a recruiter.
  • Project Management Buzzwords (eg: Agile, Scrum, Waterfall): You're not a project manager. These skills aren't relevant. It doesn't matter if you delivered work all at once or in sprints.
  • For folks putting SQL : There's no need to list every single SQL DB (MySQL, PostgreSQL, MS SQL etc.) in your resume. Interviews focus on your understanding of the relational DB model and not what flavor of SQL you use. Listing one is enough.
  • Long List of Programming Languages : Only list languages that you've a strong grasp over. Seeing "C, C++, JavaScript, TypeScript, Python, Java, php" all because you used them a few times doesn't look good.

Unnecessary Sections


Proof of Work is always better than a piece of paper saying you learnt something.

  • There a few roles that occasionally mention certifications (sysadmin, devops, security). Apart from those, putting a certification on the resume doesn't matter much.
  • Most online courses will have some sort of a capstone project. Build those projects. Add a few features of your own and list them instead of the certificate.

Unrelated Interests

It's likely that someone will ask you about your hobbies in your interview. Saying that you like "cycling or dancing" doesn't give you any edge over other resumes. Unless you're interests are relevant, it's best to leave them out of the resume.

Some More Advice

Avoid Long Paragraphs
Your resume is not an essay for English class. Keep it concise and use bullet points.

Use a Single Column Layout if you've less Experience
It's better to trim down your resume and fill a single column layout than bloating it up with unnecessary things.

On the Education Section

  • If your GPA is low, remove it.
  • Anything before college isn't really relevant in this section. There's no need to put the name of your high-school or your college entrance test scores.

Note: There are exceptions to every point which I haven't mentioned since they're very specific. We can discuss them in comments.

Best of luck on your job hunt. 👍

Top comments (1)

andrewbaisden profile image
Andrew Baisden

Every time I change company I refactor my CV so it stays relevant with the times.