Quick guide: How to write a Software Developer CV

March 8, 2021
9
min read
Quick guide: How to write a Software Developer CV
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Why do I even need to write a CV as a software developer? Can't they test my skills or look at my projects on GitHub?

Unfortunately, you can't always program yourself out of everything.

A survey was done on nearly 1,000 technical recruiters, which found out that 75 % of them had hired or turned away a candidate due to their CV.

So yes, you can get hired without a resume, but the odds don't seem to be in your favor.

Now, I know you tech guys and gals don't like too much fluff, so let's skip lengthy introductions and get you started on writing a great software developer CV.

Picking the right resume format as a software developer

For those in the front line of digital innovation, picking a skill-based resume format becomes the norm.

Why is that?

Because, as a software developer, your technical skills are essential to the job. A skill-based resume adds your skills to the forefront of your CV, making it easy for a hiring manager to skim your resume and see if your skills align with what they're searching for.

However, just because you're a software developer doesn't mean you're stuck with a skill-based resume format. If you have phenomenal work experience, then, by all means, go with a chronological style that puts your work experience to the top.

Regardless of what resume style you go for, it's imperative as a software developer to highlight your technical skills throughout your resume.

Here's an example of a software developer CV:

Software Developer CV example

Standard resume sections for software developers

Now that you know which resume format to pick, here's how you can write a software developer resume, section-by-section.  

First, let's start with the standard resume sections that are included in every CV: 

  1. Personal information
  2. Resume summary or summary objective
  3. Skills
  4. Work experience
  5. Education

These five sections are pretty much mandatory on every resume, as they include all the essential information a recruiter needs. They can be arranged in multiple ways but should always be included. Not having them could result in your CV getting rejected by the Automated Tracking Systems (ATS). 

Any additional sections are optional and, if appropriately added, can give your resume that extra kick. 

Let's have a look at these standard resume sections to make sure your software developer resume has everything it needs.

Personal information 

This section is straightforward. It goes at the very top of your resume and contains your contact information. As a software developer, this section is also where you can include your GitHub account

Including your GitHub is recommended. However, make sure you have something substantial in it. Otherwise, you will just be wasting your recruiter's time.

If you decide to include your GitHub in your resume and make your repository public, know that you will be judged by it. Because of that, it's a good idea to attach a README to your repositories.

Recruiters have limited time and will most likely not be able to dig deeply into your code or might not even be technical enough to do so.

As a result, by not having a README, the recruiter skips that fantastic project you worked on that could have landed you the job.

Apart from your GitHub, here's what else to include:

Mandatory

  • Name and surname
  • Phone number: Make sure to add the proper prefix when applying to a different country job. 
  • Email address: Remember to add your professional email. [email protected] used to be cool, but try to stick to something professional like [email protected] for the moment. 
  • Home address: Adding your home address can be a bit tricky, as it's been known that it can lead to discrimination. It's ok to add your city and state. 

Optional: 

  • Professional acronym: Professional titles, education, certification – you put the time to get them, might as well add them.  
  • LinkedIn, other social media: Adding your LinkedIn account to your resume is usually recommended. You could share your other social media accounts as well. Just make sure they are relevant to the job. 
  • Personal website or portfolio: This is a great way to show your projects without taking too much space in your resume. 
  • Photo: This depends a lot on the country you will be submitting your resume to. For example, you shouldn't add one if applying for a US-based company but should if using for one in Germany. 

In the end, it should look something like this: 

Software Developer CV example

Do you need a resume objective or summary as a software developer?  

Writing a resume objective has become less relevant for software developers. Why? Because a summary objective is about what you want in your career and not about what you can offer to your employer.

Most software developer summary objectives end up being written vaguely like "outgoing and driven, seeking a role in Python to further my career interests in web development", adding little to nothing of value to a CV or a recruiter.  

Instead, opt for a resume summary (also known as a professional summary), especially if: 

  • You're changing focus in your career (example: systems programming to web programming);
  • You have something unique and essential you want to highlight; 
  • You will post your resume on job boards (monster, dice, etc.) and want recruiters to contact you.

Here are the basics when writing a resume summary. It should: 

  • Be 3-4 bullet lines of text summarizing your experience; 
  • Highlight your unique skills and accomplishments; 
  • Be specifically tailored to the job you're applying for (You can do so by adding keywords and related skills from the job listing) – this can give you a headstart with the ATS. 

All in all, the point of a resume summary is to hook the recruiter into reading the rest of your resume. Only add one if you feel it has merit. 

Here's an example of a resume summary: 

Software Developer CV example

Adding skills on a software developer CV 

As a software developer, you rely on specific technical skills to perform your job. Because of this, hiring managers pay a lot of attention to this section of your resume. Making it very important to add skills that align with what they are searching for. 

You can do so by researching the job description properly and tailoring your resume to the specific programming languages, systems, and programs they are searching for in a candidate. 

Here are some examples of the technical skills – also known as hard skills – you can add:

Front-end developers can include frameworks such as:

  • React
  • Angular
  • JQuery
  • Emberjs
  • Svelte

Back-end developers can include: 

  • Server-side programming languages such as Python or PHP 
  • Operational routing APIs such as Toutific or OnFleet
  • Experience with AWS or other cloud services
  • Oracle/SQL
  • WebLogic
  • Spring Frameworks  

And, if you are a full-stack developer, in addition to adding your use of Serverless or Node.js, make sure you add both front and back-end skills to this section. 

Apart from hard-skills, there are also  soft skills that would benefit your software development CV, such as: 

  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Analytical Skills
  • Time Management
  • Team Work 

However, the key is only to add skills you know in-depth and relevant to the job posting. 

Adding too many skills or worse, adding technical skills that you barely know might give your recruiter the impression that your knowledge is too broad or that you're a newbie who is simply padding his resume. 

Your skills can be jotted down as a list where you separate your hard skills from your soft skills, or you can go with your tech skills, like this: 

Work experience

This is the meat and bones of your CV. Every other section of your resume so far has had one objective — to get the recruiter interested in reading your work experience.

Remember how we said skill-based resumes are becoming the norm? It's a good idea to emphasize your tech skills throughout your job entries. This will let your recruiter know that you understand those skills in-depth, giving you an edge over your competition. 

Your work experience should be listed in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent job. It should include:

  • the name of the company you worked for;
  • the company's location;
  • your job title;
  • and lastly, how long you have worked there.

Then, each entry should be: 

  • 3-5 bullet points that highlight your achievements and accomplishments. Try not to list your responsibilities. Instead, focus on the positive results you've achieved.  
  • Specifically tailored to the job posting. 
  • Quantified. If you can measure the impact you had in your previous jobs, it's a superior added value to your CV. Basically, by quantifying your results, you can give a sense of the size and scope of the work you've done. 

Here's an example of how a work experience section can look: 

Education 

Depending on where you find yourself in your career, the education section is either the most critical section of your CV or one of the least. 

If you're a fresh graduate and don't have much experience, then this section should be added near the top of your resume, beneath the resume summary. 

In which case, you can make it stand out by adding your:

  • GPA/Grade (add only if above average, there's nothing wrong with not including it.) 
  • Programming Courseworks (such as operating systems, networks or algorithms & data science)
  • EE Courseworks (such as Computer Arch, VLSI Design, and Embedded Systems)  
  • Extracurricular activities (such as a Computer Club) 

However, if you're already a seasoned developer, then the education section takes a back seat, and you can add it beneath your work experience.

Something as simple as including the name of your university, the name of your degree, and the year of your graduation should be enough.  

Something like this should be enough: 

Optional resume sections for software developers

These sections, though optimal, are given a lot of importance by companies (such as startups) that put a high value on work culture. They add a bit of personality to your CV and can give your potential employer a better understating of your character as a whole. 

Here are some of the optional sections that can help your software developer CV : 

  • Side projects: Adding personal projects to your CV can be very important if you start as a software developer, as it shows the recruiter your passion for programming. 
  • Certifications and courses. This section is a great place to let your recruiter know you're someone who likes to stay up to date with new software and programs. Jot down relevant courses and that new cloud-based certificate here. 
  • Hobbies: Try to add hobbies that are unique and interesting. Bonus points if they align with the company's work culture.  

You can also use this section to add extra keywords that align with what the job demands. Helping you get through the first stage of the hiring process — the Automated Tracking Systems 

Getting through the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) 

It's almost sure you'll be applying digitally. That means you're not just going to be tailoring your resume to the recruiter, but also the algorithms.

Take the example of Google; they get around 3,000,000 applications a year and only hire 7,000.

That's 3 million resumes!

Can you imagine sifting through that? 

It's no wonder over 98 % of Fortune 500 companies use applicant tracking systems. 

What, with the average resume getting 7.4 seconds of spotlight, it would take our poor Google recruiter nearly 257 days (if my math's correct) of non-stop work to sift through those 3 million CVs. 

We want to stress how important it is to add relevant keywords to your resume to have a greater chance of getting through the ATS.

An ATS breaks down your resume into different sections and then scans it for relevant keywords, assigns it a score, and determines if your resume gets passed to the recruiter. 

Apart from keywords, your resume should also be structured so that it is easy to read by the ATS. That means your resume should have: 

  • The right font size (11-12 pt for body text and 2-4 pt larger for headings)
  • Proper resume font (nothing too fancy) 
  • The right margin (1 inch on all sides of the resume)
  • Single-line spacing (avoid double space) 
  • White space (seriously, try not to cram everything in there) 

Lastly, it should also be sent as a PDF

One way to avoid most of these ATS shenanigans is by picking an ATS-friendly resume from a resume building site like Kickresume

Extra tips submitting your CV 

Even if the ATS and the recruiter fall in love with your resume, be aware of the next stage – recruiters are likely to google you. 

Because of that, it's good to be prepared to have your publicly available social media profiles align with the job you're searching for. Also: 

  • Try to limit your resume to one page
  • Attach a cover letter to your resume if you have the option, as it can help you stand out. 
  • Send it during off-peak hours as recruiters are busy, and you want them to read your resume when they have time.  
  • Edit and proofread your resume
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