24 Jul 2016

Developers: 7 Essential Tips to Formatting Your Resume

developer with laptop

There are over one million developer jobs in the U.S. alone and the median pay for those positions is over a hundred thousand dollars a year. Employment for developers is, moreover, expected to grow by 17% from 2014 to 2024.

These factors make web and software development an very appealing field for young professionals who specialize in computer programming and college-aged students majoring in computer science. With growth and opportunity, however, comes competition. To land a good developer job you need to ensure that you’re standing out, and like any job, the first thing your potential employer will see is your resume.

So what should you do to ensure that your resume stays at the top of the pile? Here are seven essential formatting tips for your resume.

1. Provide a Brief Profile or Summary First

A profile section at the top of your resume can be a good way to distinguish yourself from other candidates. It gives your potential employer a sense of who you are and what abilities you have that might not be apparent from your experience and employment history.

In addition, it’s likely that the first person looking at your resume is not a programmer—they’re probably in human resources or recruiting. Giving a brief profile of yourself is a good way to interest these non-technical professionals and to ensure that you’re resume makes the first cut.

Remember, though, that most people’s profiles are generic. So, while you should be brief in describing yourself and your experience and objectives, include a few skills that you think are special or unique to you. If you’ve had to give a lot of tutorials or constantly led meetings related to your work, you might stress your presentation skills. If you’ve overseen other developers or employees on specific tasks, then highlight your project management experience.

2. Tailor Your Skills Section to the Job

In your profile section or beneath it, provide a bulleted list of skills that you have that are relevant to the position. Skills, of course, can be anything that you consider yourself to be good at or have significant experience in. Mention general skills any developer should have, but also highlight a handful of skills that you think make you a unique developer.

Tailor your resume to the individual job you’re applying for. If there are skills of yours that will be valued more than others for a specific position, make sure to emphasize them.

3. Include Your Specific Technical Skills Separately

List the programming languages you know and platforms or operating systems with which you’ve worked. Programming languages differ by professional sector, so make sure and include those that are most relevant to the job you’re applying to first. In the financial sector, for example, Scala, Java and C# are key languages to know; in media, advertising and design, Ruby, PHP, JavaScript and Objective-C are the most important.

The top ten programming languages today are Java, C, C++, Python, C#, R, PHP, JavaScript, Ruby and Matlab. Note that languages like R, which is a statistical computing language, have become increasingly popular over the last few years due to the importance of big data analysis and visualization.

4. Keep Your Educational Background Brief

Also toward the top of your resume, provide a small section that lists your computer science or programming education. While it’s worth listing your educational background, make it brief. You don’t need to mention every computer science course you ever took as an undergraduate. If there is something unique about your education that you think makes you an especially good fit for a specific position, briefly mention it in your description in your profile, or include a short bullet point in the education section.

5. Experience Means More Than Just Who You’ve Worked For

Your experience section should be the evidence that backs up the claims you make about your skills and abilities. List relevant places you’ve worked (no need to include your first job at Starbucks when you were 16), but when describing your responsibilities and what you did at that job, don’t just list things that every developer has done. You want to stress what makes you unique as a candidate for that position.

For your top work experiences, one industry expert suggests having three sections when describing your work: a “Skill’s Used” section that simply lists the languages and platforms you used, a “Role Overview” that gives a brief description of your role and then an “Interesting Challenges” section where you can detail and highlight elements of your job that were unique and interesting to you and that might be especially relevant to the position for which you’re applying.

6. Show that You’re Up To Date with Industry Trends.

When describing your work experiences, underscore your abilities in relevant and important sectors of your industry. Emphasize your work on big data projects and your knowledge of analytics products and machine learning tools. Experience with big data and open source software continue to be of great value to employers in just about every sector of programming and development so giving some details on your interest and work on them will make you a strong candidate.

Flexibility is also worth stressing. Top firms want full-stack developers who understand the intricacies of product development from the core to the presentation layers of software and websites.

7. Let The Content of Your Resume Standout, Not its Appearance

You don’t want the appearance of your resume to distract from your experience and skills by being ostentatious or flashy. Readability is the most important characteristic of your resume’s appearance. Trying to make your resume appear visually different is not how you want to stand out.

Go for clarity and simplicity. Keep your resume to around three pages at most and ensure that there is adequate spacing between everything so that your potential employer can clearly distinguish between everything and navigate the document quickly. Have your name and contact information stated at the top and use a simple and appealing font. Make sure and proofread your resume multiple times. Spelling and grammatical errors are a quick way to end up in the rejection pile.

Good Luck

Landing your dream job starts with how you present yourself in your resume, so make sure and put your best face forward by following these tips.

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