Creating an outstanding software engineering resume is a crucial step in getting your foot in the door in the competitive field of software development.
In this guide, brimming with examples and useful tips, we'll walk through the process of crafting a resume that sets you apart. Whether you're a veteran in the field or just setting out on your coding journey, the steps outlined here will ensure your application leaves a lasting impression.
Read on and learn how to:
- Properly format your software engineering resume
- Write a strong software engineering resume summary
- Include your best hard and soft skills as a software engineer
- Describe your work experience and key projects as a software engineer
- List your educational credentials properly
- Select the perfect extra sections for your software engineer resume
- Include a cover letter with your software engineer resume
- Find software engineering resources
Oh, and if you want to turn your LinkedIn profile into a resume with just one click, we've got you covered.
1. Properly format your software engineering resume
Crafting the content of your software engineering resume might seem like the hard part. However, presenting this information in a user-friendly format is equally important.
With numerous format types to consider, let's boil it down to the three most common ones you're likely to encounter — namely, the chronological, functional, and hybrid formats.
- Chronological format: A chronological format, as the name suggests, arranges your work history in reverse order, with the most recent job first. This format serves seasoned professionals best, highlighting your career progression and expertise.
- Functional format: A functional format, on the other hand, emphasizes skills over job history. This format is favored by fresh graduates or those planning to switch careers who might not have a wide range of related work experience. Instead of focusing on job positions, it magnifies your skills relevant to the software engineering sector.
- Hybrid format: A hybrid format combines aspects of both chronological and functional formats. It's effective if you want to highlight specific capabilities while still detailing your work history. This format allows you to showcase your expertise upfront, backed by your professional experience.
Remember, the best format is the one that highlights your strengths and fits the job description. Regardless of the chosen format, ensure consistency across your resume. Keep fonts professional and layouts neat, giving employers no excuse not to call you in for an interview!
So, choose your preferred template and make your software engineer resume shine.
2. Write a strong software engineering resume summary or objective
Right at the top of your resume, beneath your contact details, should sit your resume summary or objective. While a summary encapsulates your professional experience and key achievements, a resume objective communicates your career goals and demonstrates how you can benefit the organization.
If you’re just starting out in the software engineering field, changing your career path, or have specific goals, using a resume objective may be ideal for you. It allows you to focus on how your skills and career ambitions align with the company's needs and mission.
Let's illustrate with examples:
Incorrect software engineer resume objective example
Seeking a challenging software engineering role to advance my career.
This objective falls short because it's solely focused on the applicant's wants, and lacks specifics on how the company would benefit from their contribution.
Correct software engineering resume objective example
Entry-level software engineer with a Bachelor's degree in Computer Science and proficiency in Java and Python. Looking to leverage academic knowledge, internship experience, and passion for programming to solve unique challenges and contribute to XYZ Tech's mission of creating innovative software solutions.
Why is this example correct? This objective succeeds where the previous example failed. It demonstrates the candidate's qualifications and skills, shows how they intend to apply them, and links their goals to those of the company.
As an experienced software engineer, you should be writing a resume summary. It should articulate your expertise, key achievements, and any unique value you can provide to the company. Communicate your most relevant skills in line with the job description.
Let's take a look at contrasting examples to understand how to effectively formulate your resume summary:
Incorrect software engineering resume summary example
Software engineer with many years of experience. Has worked in different types of businesses, can code in various languages.
Why is this example incorrect? This resume summary is overly broad and lacks specificity. It doesn't tell prospective employers what your career focus is, or exactly what skills and experience you bring to the table.
Correct software engineer resume summary example
Why is this summary correct? This example details the candidate's experience, specialized skills, indicates their professional focus, and showcases a quantifiable achievement relevant to the role.
Remember, a strong resume summary or objective is just the launching pad you need to propel you into the interview shortlist. Make it compelling, specific, and tailored to the software engineering role on offer.
3. Include your best hard and soft skills as a software engineer
Choosing the most relevant skills to showcase on your software engineering resume is crucial. This calls for understanding the distinction between hard and soft skills and their significance in your applications.
Hard skills are specific, teachable abilities that can be measured, like proficiency in a programming language or understanding of agile methodologies.
Soft skills, on the other hand, relate to how you work and interact with others. They're less tangible but equally important — think problem-solving or teamwork.
When you're tailoring your resume to a specific job ad, it's essential to highlight the skills mentioned in the job description first. Why? Because hiring managers or Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) may be specifically looking for these skills.
Here are examples of hard and soft skills relevant to a software engineer:
The best hard skills for a software engineer resume
- Java, Python, C++, or other programming languages
- Full-stack development
- Database management
- Debugging and code review skills
- Knowledge of algorithms and data structures
- Agile methodologies
The best soft skills for a software engineer resume
- Attention to detail
- Time management
Recognizing the most effective hard and soft skills relevant to the role shows your understanding of the job and proves your direct value to your potential employer. The right blend of these skills can make your software engineering resume shine brighter than the rest.
4. Describe your work experience and key projects as a software engineer
Your work experience section is a chance to display your professional journey and achievements. It's typically formatted in reverse chronological order and features the following:
- Job title
- The name of the company and the period of employment
- A bulleted list summarizing your main responsibilities, achievements, and key skills demonstrated or acquired.
Action verbs for your work experience section
Powerful adjectives to use in your resume
Now, let's consider two contrasting examples of a work experience and key projects section for a software engineer:
Incorrect software engineer work experience example
Software Engineer, ABC Tech
- Wrote code
- Was part of the development team
Why is this example incorrect? This example fails to show specific responsibilities, skills, or achievements the candidate held or earned during their tenure. It's vague and doesn't demonstrate the impact of the applicant's work.
Correct software engineer work experience example
Software Engineer, ABC Tech
- Engineered an efficient database management system, improving data retrieval times by 15%.
- Led a team of five in developing an innovative client solution that boosted user engagement by 40%.
- Implemented strategic quality assurance methods to eliminate software errors by 30%.
- Directed successful integration of third-party API's into company software, expanding functionality and user experience.
- Optimized code performance, resulting in a 25% speed increase in software operations.
- Project Lead, Cloud Migration Project: Oversaw the successful migration of the company’s product suite to a cloud-based architecture. Resulted in a 70% cost reduction in infrastructure expenses and improved uptime by 30%.
Why is this example correct? This revised software engineer work experience section uses strong action verbs, specifies responsibilities, and includes quantifiable achievements, which clearly shows the candidate's impact at work.
It also includes a clearly defined key project, detailing the candidate's role and the impact their leadership had on the project's success
All in all, a compelling work experience and key projects section paints a vivid picture of your capabilities. Remember to use dynamic language, be specific, include quantifiable achievements, and align your experience with the software engineering job description to showcase your fit for the new role.
5. Make your education section count
Including an education section in your software engineering resume is critical, regardless of the level of experience. It reflects your formal training, provides context to your other qualifications, and can be a tiebreaker in close calls.
Even if your education isn't in software engineering, it's valuable information. Any degree demonstrates a dedication to learning, and critical thinking skills. Mention any relevant courses you have taken or learning projects you have undertaken.
Software engineering education section example (no related background)
Bachelor of Arts in Physics
Yale University, 2015 - 2019
- Relevant Courses: Programming for Scientists, Electronics and Circuit Analysis
- Projects: Collaborated on a 4-person team to create an application predicting particle motion using Python.
If your degree directly relates to software engineering, it serves as strong evidence of your knowledge and skills in this field. Highlight any esteemed honors, relevant subjects, or notable projects related to software development.
Software engineering education section example
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Harvard University, 2010 - 2014
- Honors: Graduated Summa Cum Laude, Dean's List 2012-2014
- Key project: Built a full-stack web application as part of end-of-year project, which significantly increased departmental efficiency.
Including an education section helps round out your software engineer resume, providing further insight into your qualifications. Regardless of your field of study, this section illustrates your problem-solving abilities, exposure to relevant concepts, and potential to contribute meaningfully to a software engineering role.
6. Select the perfect extra sections for your software engineer resume
Including extra sections in your software engineering resume can give you the edge by showcasing your well-rounded personality, interests, and other competencies beyond your professional and academic life.
These sections should add value and align with the role or the company culture you're applying to.
Here are three examples:
- Volunteering: Volunteering experience, particularly if it's tech-focused, can reflect positively on your ability to apply your skills to real-world situations. It also showcases your social commitment.
- Certifications: Certifications can add value to your resume, especially if they demonstrate specialized skills or increase your expertise in a specific area. This could include coding languages or platforms.
- Personal projects: Side projects that show the application of your skills give potential employers a concrete demonstration of what you are capable of, even if these projects were not part of your professional or educational experience.
Here’s how you can list your extra resume sections
- Code Mentor, Girls Who Code (2018 - Present): Providing mentoring in basic coding principles and problem-solving skills to a weekly class of high school girls interested in tech.
- Oracle Certified Professional, Java SE 8 Programmer
- Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP)
- Fitness Tracker App: Developed a personal fitness tracking app using React Native and Firebase, with features like activity logging, progress charts, and goal setting.
These examples offer a glimpse into your personality, display your dedication to your field, and provide a hands-on showcase of your relevant skills.
7. When to include a cover letter with your software engineer resume
A cover letter, while often overlooked, can be a powerful companion to your software engineering resume. It's especially pertinent when the job posting asks for one, or when you want to provide context or detail that your resume just doesn't accommodate.
The primary difference between a resume and a cover letter lies in their purpose and format. While a resume is a concise snapshot of your skills, experience, and education relevant to the role, a cover letter is a place to connect the dots, tell your story, and elaborate on details related to the position.
A well-tailored cover letter can offer valuable insights into your personality, motivation, and fit for the role. It's your chance to catch the hiring manager's attention, show you've done your homework about the company, and express why you're excited about the role beyond coding languages or software development strategies.
Remember, an effective cover letter doesn't rehash your resume. It complements it. It's an opportunity to showcase your communication skills and to share your professional journey in a way that a bullet-list just cannot capture. So the next time you're sending out your polished software engineering resume, consider pairing it with a compelling cover letter. You might just increase your chance of landing that coveted interview call.
8. Software engineering resources
To support your job search journey and career growth in software engineering, plenty of resources are available. Utilizing these can help you stay current with the latest developments in the sector, refine your skills, and broaden your network. Here are some noteworthy tools and platforms:
- GitHub: It's an essential tool for showcasing your programming chops and collaboration on projects. Building a strong GitHub profile can significantly impact recruiters and hiring managers.
- Stack Overflow: This platform is a hub of information where developers help each other solve coding problems. It's also a source of coding news and job advertisements.
- LeetCode: Sharpen your problem-solving skills and prepare for technical interviews with the practice problems and mock interviews available on this platform.
- Learning platforms: Learning platforms like Coursera or Udemy offer a variety of coding courses, often taught by industry experts. You can access courses specific to various programming languages or software engineering general practices.
- Meetups or developer groups: Check meetup.com or search online for local software engineering groups or forums. Attending these meetings can help you network with fellow professionals.
- Tech blogs & podcasts: Following reputable tech blogs or podcasts like Coding Horror, A List Apart, or Software Engineering Daily can keep you updated with the latest trends in the tech world.
It's crucial to remember that being successful in your software engineer job search isn't only about having an exceptional resume. It's also about constant learning, networking, and staying abreast of industry trends. The resources listed above can provide invaluable support on your journey.
9. Average salary and outlook for software engineers
Crafting a standout resume is the first step to securing a rewarding career in the field of software engineering. And understanding the industry's salary and growth outlook can surely add to your motivation.
According to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average yearly salary for software engineers was $127,260 in May 2022. This impressive figure reflects the high demand for skills and competencies that software engineers bring to the table.
Moreover, the future looks particularly bright for the profession. Overall employment of software developers, quality assurance analysts, and testers is projected to grow by a robust 25 percent from 2022 to 2032. This is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.
In terms of job availability, an average of 153,900 openings for software engineers are projected each year over the decade. This means that, armed with a strong resume and the right skills, your chances of landing a role are on a favorable path.
With attractive salaries and promising job prospects, software engineering certainly stands out as a rewarding career choice.
Create a dedicated 'tech skills' section and list your programming languages and technical expertise, arranging them based on your proficiency or relevance to the job.
Detail your project experiences under "Work experience and key projects". For each project, include the name, your role, the technologies used, and measurable achievements. Also, consider providing a link to your online portfolio or GitHub account.
Include a separate "Certifications" section and list all your relevant certifications along with their issuing authority and dates.
Focus on academic projects, internships, relevant coursework, certifications, and technical skills. Highlight transferable skills and express enthusiasm for the industry.
Don't ignore employment gaps. Instead, explain them in your cover letter or an 'additional information' section on your resume. Showcase any constructive activities during the gap, like freelance projects, courses, or volunteering that kept your skills relevant.