It’s no secret that recruiters (and their automated tools) look for keywords on your résumé—but what words do you actually need? If you’re after a specialized position, you’ll need highly specialized terms, of course. But no matter what your intended role in tech, a few terms are pretty much always required.
Terms Every Software-Related Résumé Needs
Interested in landing a job as a software engineer or developer? Some tools and skills are ubiquitous; some are so ubiquitous that you probably don’t need to mention them—for example, something like FTP (or even Microsoft Word). But in any case, here’s what you need:
Git: If this article was limited to just one term, there’s no question what we’d chose: git, which is quickly rising as the most common and important source code control package. But when you’re writing your résumé, don’t stop there: include your GitHub URL, so your future employer can get a good look at your (hopefully amazing) projects. (If you don’t have a GitHub setup, you should fix that today.)
Communication skills (written and verbal): Yes, this is important. No matter how introverted you feel, you still need to communicate with people—whether end-users, customers, management, or sales. Good communication can make or break a team. Fortunately, there are many ways you can work on your communication skills; for example, attending Meetups (or even joining the local Toastmasters) can rapidly boost your skills.
Testing: Some developers consider themselves wizards at testing; others consider it the absolute worst part of the development process. Either way, if you’re applying for any kind of job building software, you need to show that you understand the whole testing process, including unit testing. If a company hires you as a developer, they’re going to expect you to produce software that’s as flawless as possible (given the usual time and resource constraints, of course).
SQL: Yes, even if you’re not a data engineer or data scientist, you still need to know relational databases, since structured (and unstructured) data is part of virtually every software system. Even if you don’t use SQL in the course of a specific project, you still need to know relational data concepts. For example, can you put together a select statement with a left outer join? If not, time to learn it—and then put SQL on your résumé. It could give you that advantage you need to land the job interview.
DevOps has grown from the older days of operations into one of the highest-paying jobs in the industry. But even though companies are hungry for DevOps talent, they want DevOps specialists with very particular sets of skills. With that in mind, here’s what you should list on your résumé for a DevOps position.
Python: Almost 30 years ago, a computer scientist named Guido van Rossum invented a small, beautiful language called Python. About ten years later, it started becoming really popular, only for that popularity to wane… but only for a while. Now it’s bigger than ever, both as a “general” programming language and a highly specialized one for data science, finance, and other fields. So if you want to work in DevOps, you must know Python.
Bash: Bash is one of those tools that most software developers wouldn’t want to include on their résumés, simply because it’s taken for granted that you know basic bash operations. Those working in DevOps, though, need to know bash way beyond other technologists. Absolutely include it on your résumé.
Other tech: If you’re going to perform DevOps in a Microsoft Azure context, you’ll need to know (and mention) PowerShell, as well as orchestration and automation tools such as Puppet, Chef, and Ansible. Presently, many DevOps positions are also asking for toolchain knowledge, including continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD). If you know them, drop them in your résumé; if you don’t, learn.
If you’re working in cloud, there are two terms you’ll want on your résumé:
AWS: Amazon Web Services is the dominant cloud provider, used by everyone from huge corporations (Netflix, AirBNB, and Shell are just a few of the many large clients) to tiny startups. If you do anything cloud, you need to know AWS. What about services within AWS, such as DynamoDB? Only include them if you’re looking for jobs that specifically call out that skill in the posting; otherwise, you might risk cluttering up your document with excessive keywords.
Azure: Azure is Microsoft’s cloud, and they lag a bit behind AWS in terms of market-share. However, if you’re going to be a cloud expert, you’re going to have to know Azure, and that also means a set of tools that includes Powershell and Visual Studio.
The next-biggest cloud behind Azure is Google Cloud. However, their market share is miniscule by comparison. There aren’t as many jobs for Google Cloud, so don’t bother name-dropping it on your résumé unless the job specifically calls for it.
If you want to land work developing in Microsoft’s .NET environment, you’ll need to have a few tools and technologies under your belt (and mentioned on your résumé). One issue with .NET, however, is that it has evolved significantly since its introduction roughly 20 years ago.
When .NET rolled out (way back in the day), pre-.NET technologies such as ASP classic and VB6 became outdated (replaced by ASP.NET). Then along came MVC, pushing ASP.NET aside. Every few years, technologies are replaced by new ones—and yet the older ones still live on. You really have to keep very current in this particular ecosystem. Here are some terms to know and use:
C# or VB.NET (or both): C# is the most common language used for targeting .NET.
.NET Core: This is the latest incarnation of the .NET framework. However, Microsoft has announced that they will soon drop the word “Core” and just call it .NET. For now, many jobs still utilize the term “Core.”