How to create a killer developer resume that showcases your software engineering skills

This article will help you prepare a resume that is both professional and effective in getting you hired.

Recently, I wrote an article on how I prepared for job interviews and how I finally got the job I wanted at Twitter. Many people reached out to me (over 400+) in order to find out more. They wanted to learn how to create a great resume.

This article was compiled by Kristin, a senior tech recruiter at Twitter. She was a great friend and colleague during my recruitment process.

This article is about:

  • What should you include in your resume?
  • Do not include any slang in your resume
  • Extra tips
  • Advice for recent graduates
  • I recommend the following tools/resources

10/19/2018 – Read more about my courses to see how I prepared.
8/25/2018 – Read to see my experiences and learnings from a year of Twitter.

This is what it’s all about

I vividly recall the day I was asked to write my resume. I didn’t know where to begin. I wasn’t sure if my retail experience was relevant. In other words, I was completely lost when it came time to write a resume.

Resume writing can be both an art and science. It can be daunting.

Let me be clear: I am not an experienced recruiter. I don’t know what a recruiter is looking for when reviewing resumes.

I want to share my thoughts about how I prepared my resume. Kristin helped me to fill in the gaps that I could not.

This is a condensed version of our collective wisdom.

What should you include in your resume?

A resume should not be too long, too short, or difficult to read.

This means:

  • Be consistent. Consistent fonts (Arial/Times New Roman are fine) and not more than three font sizes to ensure readability
  • Use sections (use four major ones: Education, Skills and Work Experience)
  • Be specific and use keywords in your resume. Recruiters do look for keywords in resumes (e.g. Java and Python, Hadoop, real time are all examples of keywords.
  • If it is relevant, social media accounts can be listed. GitHub is a popular platform for hosting software. It’s okay to list. Snapchat? Not so much.
  • Describe why you are the right candidate for the job. A cover letter can be added to your resume as an attachment or simply a summary. These letters give recruiters a better idea of you and your motivations for applying.
  • Use numbers. Don’t just copy and paste the metric. “I helped the website grow from 10K to 100K visits per day.”
  • Use an active voice. Use verbs such as “designed”, “implemented,” and “executed”
  • Use PDF. Use PDF.
  • Choose two to three projects that you are very familiar with. These should be your top-to-bottom knowledge, from front to back. Two to three projects is enough to demonstrate dedication and the ability to ship products. These are two qualities that every company should have.

Take a look at the following resumes:

The resume was written in a.docx format and it is very difficult to correct the formatting. It’s best to leave it to the recruiter to make sure that he/she has a Microsoft Word application installed so they can read it correctly.

Save it as a PDF. This will save you so much time.

A simple resume can make a big difference. This is because a recruiter at a top-tier firm receives hundreds, or even thousands of resumes every day. If they spent 1 minute per day reviewing a resume, they would go through 300 resumes every day. This is 300 minutes, five work hours per day, and 25 hours per week.

A concise and brief resume is a good idea. This goes along with the rule that a resume should not exceed one page. This guideline is not the rule . For college-fresh graduates with little experience, this rule of thumb should be followed.

Do not include any slang in your resume

Don’t assume your resume is a chronological list of all the things you have done in the past. Also, be very careful when curating your resume.

This means:

  • Don’t list every position you held since high school. A summer job in retail would not be of interest to a tech company.
  • Don’t quantify your skill level. You can list technologies that you have worked with and not label them as “Good,” or “Expert,” etc.
  • Don’t list every buzzword you’ve heard about. Examples include “big data”, “real-time”, “machine learning,” and “batch stream.” Be careful with them. During the interview, you will likely be asked to show your knowledge of these technologies.
  • Don’t go into detail without explaining why it is relevant. Many candidates are able to do something amazing, but recruiters don’t see the relevance.
  • Do not list skills that aren’t relevant. Microsoft Excel, Word, etc. are the most basic computer skills that most people have, so those can be left out.

Extra Tips

This section will be focused on the minor things I consider to be useful. This section helped me to set the right tone for my resume writing.

Create a story

Your resume is your story. Imagine that you are taking someone on a story-telling adventure. The story is all about you.

Recruiters and hiring managers want to know Are you smart in your field? Do you have potential for growth?

A resume can be used as a canvas for putting your best foot forward. What are your highlights, challenges, and obstacles? How can these help you be a great candidate? These are the questions that a resume should address.

Similar to patents, publications or inventions relevant to the job are great things to include on your resume.

If you can present a compelling case that a patent is relevant to the application, you are free to include it on your resume. It is an extra-curricular activity that shows passion, grit, and dedication beyond your normal work environment.

Optimize for readability

This is something I believe it is important to know. Your resume should not be a summary of all your past activities, but rather a carefully curated record of your journey.

You should be very selective about what you include and what you don’t. Each bullet point should give a clue or signal to the recruiter about who you are and why you are a good match.

This is a great mental exercise that I do. If I have only 60 seconds to convince someone why they should hire What would your pitch look like?

Then, I go backwards and build on what I have done to make my point.

Here’s an example:

“I am a backend software engineer, who is driven and well-versed with RESTful architecture. I developed web apps that were highly scalable and could scale to millions of users. This was also how I created the product vision for my company.

These are the points that I want to emphasize:

  • backend engineer
  • RESTful architecture
  • Scalable
  • product visionionary

Then, I would curate my resume around these four pillars. What are the things that I have done in the past to show my passion for product, my skills in backend engineering, my experience with RESTful architecture design, and what metrics can I show to prove the products are scalable.

We are grateful

Thank you for reading thus far 🙂 If you enjoyed this article, please consider buying me a coffee here (coffee helps me write):

Advice for recent graduates

This section is for people switching careers from non-tech jobs or fresh graduates.

Is brand important? Yes. It is important to consider the school you attend and the company with which you have interned.

Companies tend to hire heavily from certain schools — Stanford, MIT and University of Washington are just a few examples — and if one of these top Computer Science Schools is your choice, you will have an advantage over other applicants.

Even if you aren’t a student at a top school, there is still hope. While a good brand name is a good signal, there are other important signals.

Kristin recommends that you provide details about how your experience can be a fit for the company you are applying to.

She often sees candidates writing about their summer retail experience and the positive changes they have made. The recruiter is not able to find out anything about the potential for success in a tech-based environment.

The work environment in a tech company is different than a retail job. I will leave this topic for another day. A recruiter and a hiring manager want you to show them why you are a good fit and why they should hire.

Good candidates will be able to write about their retail experience and tie it into something that is relevant to the job they are applying for.

Don’t be discouraged if you think you won’t get a job because you haven’t worked with technology before. You don’t have to be an expert in technology to determine whether you are qualified. Interests and hobbies can also be helpful indicators.

You can put your skills if you have a passion for electronics or soldering things together.

The recruiter will want to know how your background is related to the job. Every person is unique and brings different skills to the table.

Demonstrate to the recruiter your capabilities. Give the recruiter 60 seconds to show them what you can do.

You can use the opportunity to land your dream job once you have your foot in that door. You can read my article on how to prepare for a job interview and how I finally got my dream job at Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *