With the pandemic accelerating the pace of digital transformation, software developers are in higher demand than ever before. In fact, two-thirds of HR pros said that finding software developers was their biggest recruitment challenge of 2021, according to research from CodinGame.
It’s no wonder that recruiters are treating experienced software developers like “job market royalty.” Despite robust demand, though, your resume still needs to make it past the automated screening process and appeal to hiring managers if you want to land an interview.
In this guide, we’ll cover the major steps to creating an effective software developer resume, as well as some things hiring managers look for in a software developer who can thrive in today’s increasingly complex technical environment.
Characteristics of an Effective Software Developer Resume
Forget subjective terms and clichés like “results-oriented performer” or “strong communicator,” advised Karen Kowal, certified resume writer, executive coach and former engineer and VP of Technology for American Express.
When hiring managers review resumes for a purely technical role, they look for proficiency with a specific tech stack or set of hard skills that match the requirements for the position. With some 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies using applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen and select applications, your resume needs to be customized and demonstrate a match between your skills and the job description to make it past the automated screening process as well as human reviewers.
The first step is to thoroughly analyze the job posting to identify the must-have requirements. Then apply search engine optimization techniques (SEO) by incorporating the specific keywords (hard skills) from the job description into your resume every time you apply for a position.
Is it absolutely necessary to customize your resume each time you apply? Kowal put it this way: “The only exception to the rule is when you really don’t want the job.” Got it.
However, it’s not enough to pepper your resume with keywords—it must be done effectively. Because ATS rank resumes according to relevance, your document’s keyword quantity and frequency matter—as does keyword order. The bottom line: Listing the same words in the same order as what’s in the job description increases the likelihood of your resume being read.
To achieve keyword optimization, Kowal uses a “bookend” technique. She lists nine areas of competency matching the job description in the top third of a resume, immediately below the developer’s keyword rich branding statement. Here’s an example:
.NET Full Stack Developer | IT Senior Developer
Senior full stack developer with over 10 years of experience developing .NET, web and cloud applications. Specialize in interpreting / clarifying business requirements to build software, in Scrum and Agile environments, that exceeds customer needs. Recognized for ability to lead development of complex projects, improve quality of code and introduce innovation into the process producing better results. Won 3rd place in FDR’s 2018 innovation award program. Areas of competency include:
· UI / UX · Front End & Back End Development · SaaS Development
· Digital Platforms · Responsive Web Design · AWS Cloud & Migration
· RESTful APIs · Object Oriented Design & Programming · Agile, Scrum, Waterfall
She also includes a toolbox or technical skills list at the very end of a resume:
Operating Systems: Windows, Unix, Linux, iOS
Methods: Agile, Waterfall, Scrum
Tools: .NET Framework, Oracle, SQL Server, PL/SQL, Visual Studio, Intelli J, NetBeans, Selenium, Web Tests, NUnit, JMeter, Telerik, NuGet, oAuth, jQuery, Jira, GIT, VSTS
Technology: .NET Core, Drupal, ASP.NET, .NET, AWS Cloud, Restful APIs
Design: Object Oriented (OOD, OOP), Microservices, Database
How to Write a Profile Summary
Your branding statement is how you market yourself and communicate the value you offer to a prospective employer. It should focus on what you’re good at and what you’re recognized for. To make sure it resonates with the hiring manager, a branding statement needs to tie your experiences back to the position by using keywords and requirements from the job description.
It’s also a good idea to list one or more generic job titles under your name and contact information. A well-constructed headline can help you convey what you’re looking for and get past an ATS. Here’s an example:
.NET Full Stack Developer * IT Senior Developer * Project Leader
How to Write a Professional Experience Summary
Placing keywords strategically throughout your work experience summary is another way to increase optimization and grab the attention of hiring managers. However, hiring managers also want to see how you’ve applied your skills and how the apps, services or “things” you’ve developed or the people you’ve trained have impacted the company and its top and bottom lines.
“Hiring managers interpret the things you’ve done at your previous companies as what you can do for them,” Kowal explained.
To achieve maximum impact, under a brief description of each position, use bullets and the PAR scheme to illustrate your technical prowess and most recent accomplishments:
- What was the problem?
- What action did you take and what skills did you use?
- What was the result?
Kowal offered these examples:
First Data Resources – Omaha, NE Jan 2016—Jul 2020
IT Senior Developer – Product Engineering
Full stack developer and scrum team member developing loyalty products and new loyalty features used by Fortune 500 companies including retail, travel, financial services, and entertainment.
- Led design, process documentation and alignment, test plans and user acceptance in an Agile environment. Met the 10-week schedule.
- Developed “Refer-A-Cardholder” feature to increase value and reach of loyalty programs including websites that are accessible for the blind and vision impaired by introducing a screen reader.
- Improved performance by developing load automation tests using Visual Studio 2019 and JMeter.
- Enhanced security of Angular based applications ensuring specific authorization and privileges for users (customer audience) eligibility based on promotional offers.
- Eliminated disk space resource issues by leading the successful migration of CRM batch files from in-house service to AWS Cloud.
- Improved the ability of clients to manage all product features by using Restful web APIs to improve backend functionality.
Final Tips and Characteristics of an Effective Software Developer Resume
To encourage reviewers to read your software developer resume, limit the length to no more than two pages. If necessary, list additional positions at the end of the document, but keep in mind that it’s better to focus on your most recent jobs and in-demand skills. Also…
Your resume must be readable by computers and humans: A .docx file or PDF file is generally compatible with ATS and human reviewers.
Be sure to include hot certifications, recent coursework and links to work/coding samples: Demonstrate a passion and commitment to continuous learning by including top certifications and recent coursework. Be sure to include links to side projects, open-source projects or GitHub coding samples that utilized the skills necessary for the job. (In addition, more specialization and skills will allow you to potentially negotiate for a higher salary.)