How to write a killer resume
9 guidelines for Software Engineers
Your resume is the very first step in any job application process. When you are looking for a job, you must first pass the screening test, and your CV is the best opportunity to advertise yourself to your future employer and to demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the available position.
It is practically your business card and a marketing document. So, here are some tips and tricks for you to write a killer resume and give yourself the best chance of landing a job interview.
1. Set in mind your resume objectives
Before you start writing your resume you should set in mind (or on paper) few objectives. One of the most important objectives of your resume is to present to your potential employer specifically your qualifications for this job. Write down all the information you want to include in your resume and then structure it accordingly. Make another list of all the information you collect from the job add you are applying for and compare it with the first list.
The main objective of your resume is to schedule an interview. Think about what would convince you to interview and hire someone like yourself, and highlight those elements.
2. Research your future employer
Tailor your resume to each individual job you apply for. You have more chances to land an interview if you know your future employer. You have to research the company, the business, the job description. Pay attention to what the company you are applying for needs and is looking for, then organize the information in your CV in such a manner that it highlights how your experience is relevant to the company’s and job’s requirements.
Find out the values and mission of the company you are looking into and try to see if they fit your values and mission. Write a short career overview at the beginning of the CV about yourself highlighting the values you have in common with your potential employer.
3. Start with the technologies and tools overview
If your resume is two pages long and you leave the best for last, most likely nobody will read the last part. Put the technical expertise first. It makes the resume much easier to scan.
Continue with the business domain and experience.
Example: Scriptwriting – 2 years, IT Software – 1 year, etc.
After the technical expertise and the business domain experience, write a career summary, no longer than 1 paragraph, that will contain an overview of your skills and experience.
Highlight the experience that your potential employer would be interested in. Your resume doesn’t have to be too long, but it needs to be consistent.
4. What information to include
Your CV should include studies (school, high school, university), professional experience, additional projects, foreign languages, courses & certifications (if you have). Try to be relevant. Don’t mention activities that are not related to the job you’re after. Keep your focus on the experience you have in the domain they are interested in. You can include volunteering because it shows you are a giving person with strong social involvement. You may also include hobbies in your resume because they build a picture of your personality and social skills. Don’t include personal information in your CV (marital status, children, etc.). They are not relevant and some details about your personal life can backfire.
If you've done projects in your spare time that are technically challenging, or that have a sizeable user base, include those in your resume. Also, include technical details of your work: programming languages, your individual contribution, metrics. Choose your words carefully, so you can highlight your skills. Instead of writing: “Worked with a team of 3 on an e-mail plugin” (which offers no information about your experience, nor your abilities) you could be writing: “Implemented in C++ an Outlook e-mail plugin which performs automatic backups. Along with two other team members who wrote the backup storage server, we shipped the product to 300,000 customers” (offers details about your skills, your experience, your team-playing abilities and the outcome of your work).
Describe your work using facts instead of adjectives. Instead of writing: “I developed amazing results very fast”, you should be writing: “I increased the application performance by 15% after 1 month of work”.
Choose your words carefully and include only relevant information!
5. Use the right resume template
Use a standard, simplistic resume format. Avoid fancy formatting that could be a distraction. Publish your resume in multiple formats. The standard currency is Word and PDF, but you could link it to a TXT version that's online. Recruiting involves forwarding resumes around, so have one that is maximally available.
Salveaza CV-ul in mai multe formate. Formatele standard sunt Word si PDF, dar ai putea sa salvezi si o versiune TXT pentru orice eventualitate. Recrutarea implica redirectionarea CV-urilor catre persoanele interesate, astfel incat sa fie disponibil si usor de accesat de catre angajator.
A good template should be structured liked this:
- Summary (e.g. Software Engineer with thorough hands-on experience in..., Supportive and enthusiastic team player dedicated to solving project issues, etc.)
- Skill Highlights (Agile/Scrum methodology, Performance and scalability optimization, API design, strong decision maker, efficient data management, fluent in C, C++, C#, Oracle, .NET, etc.)
- Experience (name of the company, position, responsibilities, achievements)
- Projects, with technical implementation descriptions. Recruiters look for keywords, engineers look for algorithms, techniques and niche software
- Education (school, high school, university, certificates, diplomas, etc.)
- Hobbies (not mandatory – only write about the ones that speak about your character or about your ethics)
6. Make it look good
Use web-style writing like bullet points and numbering - tasteful usage of bold and italics can make a CV much easier to scan. Remember that this is a resume, not a novel. Keep it short and relevant!
Try to make it aesthetic. It doesn't have to look like it was made by a UI designer, but stick to one font and make your sections consistent.
Don’t make it longer than 2 pages (unless you have 10+ years of experience).
Leave spaces between paragraphs and try to clearly delineate each section of your resume.
Don’t use emoticons or pictures - they make your resume seem childish and unprofessional.
7. Keep it real
Don’t lie and don’t exaggerate. Keep it real! It’s very easy for an employer to verify everything on your resume since there are agencies whose business line is to check the background of potential employees. More and more companies are hiring this type of agencies to simplify the recruiting process. MindIT is the first company in Romania to carry out employee background review services.
Also, you should include only what you can speak intelligently about. If it's on your resume, it's opened for deep questioning, and you don’t want to put yourself in an embarrassing situation. Don’t underestimate yourself, but don’t oversell yourself either. Try to be as honest and correct as you can. It’s better to be a little modest and then proves your skills and abilities, than to brag about yourself and prove you are not that well prepared for the job.
If you write in your resume that a certain person from a previous job could recommend you, make sure that you inform that person about your intent. Never give false names of people that could recommend you, because most companies actually follow through with the check-up.
8. Focus on your achievements more than on your duties
No one will be impressed because you list some responsibilities from a previous job description and you actually followed them through. That means doing your job and it does not set you apart from the rest of the candidates. Write about some projects you worked on and what was your contribution to them. Mention if you implemented a new procedure at work, if you helped in securing a project or if you found a way of simplifying everyone’s work.
Include in your resume the most important achievements from each job.
9. Intent letter
If you finished writing the perfect resume, you can throw in a short intent letter. Now, this is not mandatory in the IT field nowadays, but if you want to go the extra mile, you can write a letter that would include all the information you think your employer needs to know, before meeting you face to face. The intent letter should include information about your values, your success stories, your failures and how you overcame obstacles in your career. Write an intent letter that is honest, original and relevant.
We hope that after reading this article, you are ready to write a killer resume and go after your dream job. If you are satisfied with the outcome, send us a copy! Kepler is always looking for fresh and talented software engineers like yourself to join our team, and we have a few interesting jobs available right now – one of them could be a perfect match for your skill set. Let’s talk!Send us your resume!