How to Craft the Best Software Engineer Resume
When it comes to landing a job in the competitive field of software engineering, having a standout resume is crucial. Your resume is often the first impression recruiters and hiring managers have of you, so it's essential to make it count. But with so many applicants vying for the same positions, how can you ensure your software engineer resume stands out?
In this article, we'll explore crafting a good software engineer resume. From understanding the industry's unique challenges to highlighting your relevant skills and experience, we'll share practical tips and real-world examples to help you create the best software engineer resume that showcases your unique talents and makes you a top candidate for your dream job.
This isn't just another generic resume-writing guide. We understand the unique challenges software engineers face in today's fast-paced industry. We'll show you how to write a great software engineering resume, correctly demonstrating your technical expertise, problem-solving abilities, programming language knowledge, and passion for the field.
Whether you're starting as an entry-level professional, progressing to a lead software engineer role, or fresh out of college, our comprehensive software engineer resume guide will equip you with the necessary tips, practical software engineer resume examples, and real-world insights to help you achieve your career goals in software engineering.
Create a solid software engineer resume format
Here's a structure for a software engineer resume example:
- Header: Your name and contact information, including phone number, email address, and LinkedIn profile link.
- Professional Summary: A brief overview of your experience, skills, and objectives.
- Technical Skills: A list of technical proficiencies relevant to the job you are applying for, including programming skills, frameworks, and tools.
- Work Experience: A detailed summary of your work history, including your job title, company name, dates of employment, and key responsibilities and achievements in each role. Use bullet points to keep it concise and readable, and prioritise technical skills and experience. Focus on outcomes rather than processes.
- Projects: A section highlighting your most impressive personal projects. Use bullet points to keep it condensed but readable, and discuss the outcomes rather than the processes.
- Education: Information about your educational background, including the name of your degree, the institution you attended, and any relevant coursework or awards.
- Certifications and Training: A list of any certifications or training you have completed that are relevant to the software engineering field.
- Awards and Achievements: A section highlighting any awards or recognition you have received for your work that is related to software engineering.
- Professional Development: A section that showcases your efforts to stay current in your field, such as attending conferences or participating in online learning programs.
- References: You may include a list of references who can vouch for your skills and experience.
Please note. The simpler and more concise the resume is, the easier it is for recruiters to pull the necessary information about you to determine the next steps.
Software engineer resumes example
Your resume has only six seconds to make an impression. Recruiters spend an average of 5-7 seconds to scan your resume. However, it is important to note that you shouldn’t use the same software engineer resume for each job application. It would be advisable to customise your resume to suit different job roles and responsibilities.
Recruiters in the software engineering field are bombarded with resumes that all tend to look the same. Many applicants use standard templates from big tech companies like Microsoft or Google, resulting in repetitive and unremarkable resumes. Failing to stand out in a field where resumes are often skimmed for just a few seconds can be a significant risk, as your application may be pushed aside in favour of more eye-catching candidates by a hiring manager.
To access an editable Word version of this software engineer resume example template, please follow the link provided. This will enable you to easily customise the template to your specific software engineer job description and role.
What to include in a software engineer resume
A software engineer's resume should have a clear narrative about who you are as a potential employee. Crafting a software engineer resume that is simple and to the point software engineer resume can make all the difference in capturing a recruiter's attention.
For software engineers with experience
Your resume objective should articulate how your skills have evolved over time, demonstrating that you are the ideal candidate for the position.
Customise to the reader experience
It's important to customise your resume to the job posting whenever possible. This way, hiring managers can quickly see how your experience matches their requirements. Ask yourself what information they need about your experience to determine your qualifications for the software engineer of software developer position.
By presenting your skills and expertise clearly and concisely, you enable a hiring manager to quickly identify the key details needed to move you forward in the hiring process.
Before your application for a job can be seen by a recruiter, it will likely be reviewed by an applicant tracking system (ATS). This system will scan your resume for certain words that match the requirements listed in the job posting. If your resume lacks relevant keywords, the applicant tracking system might automatically reject your application, even if you have the right experience. To increase your chances of success, include as many relevant industry and job-specific keywords as possible in your resume.
Highlight your technical skills
When creating a software engineer resume, it's important to highlight your technical competency since they are essential for the job. To make it easier for recruiters and hiring managers to identify the specific skills they're looking for, it's recommended to break down the technical skills section of your resume into more particular subsections.
If you have attended a training course or earned certification, it's worth noting that as well. Organising your technical expertise can help recruiters quickly identify if you have the necessary skills for the software engineer job.
Be specific about your accomplishments
When creating a resume as a software engineer, it's important to show specific achievements in areas such as designing and delivering cloud solutions, using the latest technologies and development methodologies in DevOps, or experience with microservices, Lean, Agile, Serverless, containerisation, and cloud platforms.
To make your resume stand out, use specific details like project type, technologies used, or type of client, and include outcomes like a completed website design, successful application launch, or a % decrease in code churn.
It's essential to provide context by highlighting your skills and when and how you applied them. Incorporating key details, technologies, or quantifiable metrics will help your software engineer resume stand out wherever possible.
Choose the right layout
To make your resume easy for the reader to follow, it's essential to select a layout that allows you to create a clear and concise narrative. Recruiters prefer traditional chronological layouts as they provide a straightforward and easy-to-follow structure.
Unless you're making a significant career change, using a chronological format that highlights your work experience in reverse chronological order is advisable.
To make your resume easy to read, it's best to avoid design elements that may impede scanning by either a computer or a person. Using a flashy design may also make it challenging for a human to find the information they need quickly.
Divide your resume into sections such as education, experience, and technical skills to simplify a recruiter's job. It's vital to keep formatting simple and use easy-to-read fonts. Order, starting with your most recent role.
Basic framework of resume design
No matter what your specialities are or where you are in your career, there are a few tried and true resume writing rules you’ll want to keep in mind as you draft your own.
- Keep the resume to a single page
- Tailor the content to the job posting
- Highlight key achievements in a separate subsection
- Proofread the resume thoroughly before submitting it
- Enlist the help of someone else to review it
For those with no work experience or making a career pivot
If you lack professional experience as a software engineer but have completed a computer science degree or like a coding bootcamp, you can still create an impressive resume by making some minor adjustments to your entry level or junior software engineer resume.
Write a summary
Crafting a well-written resume summary section can effectively connect your previous experiences, recent training, and future objectives, enabling recruiters to assess how your skills align with their requirements.
Highlight your education
In the education section, emphasise your computer science skills, related training, and education to offset your limited professional experience. Create well-defined sections dedicated to your education and related skills and place them at the beginning of your resume to bring to attention your qualifications.
Create your portfolio of projects
Include experiences relevant to your new career
Be open-minded about what experiences could be relevant to your new career. If you are transitioning to a different field, don't conceal your previous work history, as it could display valuable skills you have acquired. Highlighting your relevant responsibilities from past jobs, such as planning or project execution, is important. These abilities could be an asset to your future employer, as they won't have to teach you them from scratch. Be bold to showcase your accomplishments and skills, and avoid downplaying your past experiences.
How to correctly display your contact information
To ensure that the hiring manager can easily reach out to you, the resume header section should be placed at the top of your resume. At a minimum, it should include your name, phone number, and professional email, while your address can be optional. You can also enhance this section by including a link to your relevant blog, LinkedIn profile, website, or other appropriate information.
How to make your software engineer work experience stand out
Your software engineer resume must do one thing. Show that you’ll do a better job than the other candidates. But how can you do this? To accomplish this, it's important to highlight the right software engineer skills on your resume. This can be achieved by carefully analysing the job description and comparing the required skills with those you already possess.
Include all relevant skills on the skills section of your resume, prioritising the most commonly used skills for a software engineer position. By effectively highlighting your software engineering skills and qualifications, you can show potential employers that you have what it takes to excel in the role and stand out from other candidates.
Here are the top 5 most commonly used skills for a software engineer resume:
Top 5 Hard Skills:
- Programming Languages (e.g. Java, Python, C++)
- Database Management Systems (e.g. MySQL, Oracle, MongoDB)
- Software Development Methodologies (e.g. Agile, Scrum, Waterfall)
- Operating Systems (e.g. Windows, Linux, macOS)
Top 5 Soft Skills:
- Problem-solving and analytical thinking
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Adaptability and flexibility
- Attention to detail and accuracy
What if you don’t have work experience?
In a highly competitive job market, your CV needs to stand out. Nevertheless, honesty should always be prioritised. While exaggerating or lying on your CV may be tempting, the repercussions can be severe, including termination if the falsified information is discovered post-employment.
Here are some tips for your CV to stand out despite having no job experience:
- Focus on your achievements: Focus on accomplishments, not just job duties, to make your CV stand out. Use specific personal projects as examples and quantify success where possible. Instead of "helped develop an Android app using AR," say "developed an Android app that boosted sales by 5% in 6 months”.
- Customise your CV for each job: Rather than using the same generic CV for every job you apply for, Customise your CV for each job application by highlighting the skills and experience most relevant to the position, demonstrating that you are a good fit for the role.
- Use keywords: Many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to screen CVs before they even reach a human recruiter. To ensure your CV gets past the ATS, include relevant keywords from the job description in your CV.
- Keep it concise: Employers are busy and need more time to read lengthy CVs. Keep your CV to one or two pages, and use bullet points to make it easy to scan.
- Use an attractive design: A visually appealing CV can help you stand out. Use a clean, easy-to-read font and bold or italicised text to highlight important information. But use only a few graphics or fancy fonts, as this can make your CV look unprofessional.
- Be honest: Finally, it's important to be honest in your CV. Avoid exaggerating or claiming to possess skills and experiences that you do not have on your resume. This is unethical and may lead to consequences if discovered. Instead, concentrate on highlighting your real achievements and strengths, and be ready to elaborate on them during interviews.
Software Engineer resume vs Software Developer resume
“Software developer” and “software engineer” are commonly used terms in the software engineering industry. Software development is a subset of software engineering.
Both software developers and software engineers work on developing software. However, software developers often focus on one part of software development, while software engineers focus on the big picture.
Note: A software developer may have more flexibility and variety in their career paths, including remote or freelance work, while a software engineer may lead teams and require more collaboration.
Comparison of a software engineer resume and a software developer resume:
- Both involve designing and developing software
- Both require a strong understanding of programming languages and development methodologies
- Both require strong problem-solving and analytical skills
- Both benefit from relevant experience, certifications, and technical skills
- Software engineering involves a more holistic approach, including project management and testing, while software development focuses more on coding and features.
- Software engineers may have more responsibility for managing the development process and collaborating with stakeholders, while software developers may focus more on front-end or user interface design.
- Specific skills and job titles emphasised on the resume may differ depending on the employer and job requirements.
Overall, there is often an overlap between the roles of a software engineer and a software developer. The responsibilities and job titles may vary depending on the company and industry. Both roles require a strong foundation in software development and a commitment to staying up-to-date with the latest technologies and trends in the field.
In both resume examples, it is important to tailor the content to the specific job description, highlighting the skills and experience that are most relevant to the position.
Steps to writing a winning resume
The essentials from a glance
We recommend structuring your resume as follows:
- Contact Information
- Resume Summary or Objective
- Work Experience
- Awards & Recognition
- Hobbies & Interests
One page resumes are preferred by many employers and recruiters because they are concise and easy to read. It allows them to quickly identify the candidate's skills, qualifications, and experience without spending too much time on a lengthy document.
Additionally, it shows that the candidate can effectively communicate their stuff clearly and concisely, which is a valuable skill in many industries. The baseline should be a single page; if you have achievements or experience above and beyond what most people have, you can look into a two-page resume template.
Important note: However, some industries or positions may require a longer resume, and it's important to tailor the length of the resume to the specific job and industry.
Sections (Header, Education, Employment, Software Projects, Skills)
There are different sections on a resume to consider. However, the main ones that are compulsory for every resume are:
- Resume Header
- Career Summary or Objectives
- Work Experience / History
- Skills and Expertise
Consistent layout + font per section
- Use standard resume section titles
- Choose a legible font (and avoid downloaded fonts)
- Use consistent formatting
- Avoid graphics
- Keep section titles simple and self-explanatory
- Include additional sections if you need them
- Merge sections if possible
Software engineer CV structure
Like coding, every small detail matters when writing a professional software engineer curriculum vitae. Your skills section needs to showcase your abilities, your work experience should focus on achievements, and your CV should be formatted to reflect your expertise.
How do I write about me as a software engineer?
The “about me” section in a resume should briefly provide the reader with an answer to the question, “Why should we hire you?” An “about me” section should include several elements:
- Your professional title. Your “about me” section should describe you as a professional. Including your current job role. It quickly informs the reader of your level of professional experience.
- Relevant skills and accomplishments. Your “about me” section should also highlight the skills relevant to the position you are applying for that are your greatest strengths. It should include an example of a professional accomplishment that highlights those strengths.
- Your career goals. Your “about me” section should also make it clear what the purpose of your resume is. This can include both short and long-term goals.
Highly analytical lead software engineer with seven years of experience in Android software development. Proficient in SQL, HTML and other programming languages used to create reliable and modern systems. Proven ability to work under pressure, execute excellent communication and think strategically to deliver quality results.
Your contact information on your resume should include your full name, phone number, email address, and location (city and state). You may also choose to include your professional title and LinkedIn profile if relevant to your job search. It's important to ensure that your contact information is up to date and accurate, so employers can easily get in touch with you.
In the education section your resume, begin with your highest degree or credential and work downwards in reverse-chronological order. For example, if you have a bachelor's degree in computer science, you may exclude your high school diploma. If you graduated as a software engineer over ten years ago. Omitting your GPA is acceptable unless it's a vital aspect of your job application. Recent graduates may choose to include their GPA as an achievement to highlight.
Employment | Work experience
Arrange your work experience in reverse-chronological order with the most recent job title first. As an experienced software engineer, provide a detailed overview of your relevant career history. Include all types of software engineering roles such as front-end, back-end, senior positions, and internships. Each job title should feature:
- Three to five bullet points that highlight your work accomplishments
- Quantifiable metrics that better portray the results of your hard work
- Action words such as developed, created, improved, implemented, evaluated or identified
- Important keywords and phrases from the job description
Senior Software Engineer / May 2018 – Jan. 2023 Golden Bay, San Francisco,
- Developed four important software programs for major banks across the U.S.
- Updated and debugged code bases regularly to stay up-to-date with technological advancements, increasing internal functionality by 30%.
- Provided monthly reports to executive management regarding ongoing software development projects and tracked changes.
If you don’t have any work experience, you might want to expand your education section and include academic achievements, relevant coursework, and activities.
Projects showcase your areas of expertise and make your resume look more authentic. Through your projects, you can show both hard and soft skills and technical and non-technical aspects of your profile.
1. Professional projects: List out relevant projects from your past jobs or independent projects you carried out professionally (paid consulting or freelance work). Projects highlights your ability to:
- Develop real-world applications and solutions independently
- Add value to your prospective role
2. Personal projects: These are side projects you pursued, paid or unpaid. Personal projects showcase:
- Your interest and passion for software
- Your ability to learn, develop, and execute new skills independently
- Your ability to apply your current skills to a broader range of projects
3. Academic projects: List these if you’re a new graduate or have limited experience. As a junior software developer with some experience or an experienced mid-level or senior software engineer, these can be left out. You can add these projects under the education section if necessary.
When it comes to creating a software engineer resume, it's crucial to stick to the facts about your skills and avoid making redundant statements that cannot be backed up by direct evidence, such as "I work well individually and in a team."
In your skills section, do include 8-10 hard and soft skills in your resume's skills section that directly relate to the software engineering job duties and responsibilities. This may include programming language skills, software development tools, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities.
Choose the most relevant skills to bring out your software engineering abilities and make your resume stand out. Ensure that the skills you highlight match the skills needed for the specific software engineering roles you are applying for.
10 hard skills for a software engineer CV
- Frameworks (Django, Angular, and Flask)
- Knowledge of agile principles
10 soft skills for software engineer CV
- Excellent problem-solving skills
- Strong communication skills
- Interpersonal skills
- Analytical skills
- Time management
- Multitasking skills
- Ability to work under pressure
- Organisation skills
What else can you include?
Awards & certifications
A curriculum vitae is expected to have more sections than a resume. Create additional sections to highlight your awards, certifications, memberships, publications or honours, and organise them in your software engineer resume according to their level of importance.
Some certifications software engineers might list on their include:
- Certified Software Engineer
- Certified Software Development Life Cycle Professional
- Salesforce Administrator
- Oracle Certified Master
- Project Management Professional
Interests & hobbies
According to Zety's analysis of 133,000 resumes, the most commonly mentioned pastime activities were, you guessed it, watching movies, listening to music, reading books, and travelling. Hiring managers have seen these hobbies a million times... and truly don't care.
Selecting activities for your resume is about choosing what aspects of your personality you want to emphasise and communicate. Do keep that in mind.
Include a cover letter with your resume
Explore these guidelines and letter samples to compose a strong cover letter:
- Address your experienced or entry-level software engineer cover letter directly to the IT recruiter, CTO, CIO, or HR hiring manager.
- Start the application letter by introducing yourself, informing them of the specific position you are applying for, and giving a quick overview of your background.
- Share what sets you apart from others and highlight important experiences demonstrating your exceptional skills and abilities.
- Explain what motivates you to join this startup or company as a software engineer on your cover letter.
- Close with a strong call-to-action, and request a phone call or meeting.
Use a resume builder to create your resume
Crafting a standout resume can be overwhelming, but using a resume builder can simplify the process. They offer templates and designs, ensuring a polished and contemporary layout that is easy to read for potential employers.
If you're unsure which one to use to write a software engineer resume, check out this informative article titled Top 10 Resume Builders of 2023: We Tried Them All so You Don’t Have to for some helpful tips and considerations. Don't let resume writing stress you out. Let a resume builder do the heavy lifting for you.
These tools are designed to guide you through the process of creating your resume step-by-step, with plenty of software engineer resume templates and design ideas. The best part? There are plenty of free options with numerous resume examples available online. Numerous free options that are available online, such as Resume Genius, Zety, My Perfect Resume, Canva, and more.
Check out the top 10 FREE resume builders listed here : Jobscan
However, online resume builders may not be ATS-friendly due to complex formatting, lack of customisation and originality, and use of the same templates as other job seekers. Additionally, some online resume builders may not allow users to save resumes to other word processing software such as Microsoft Word.
The pros and cons of AI resume builder
Currently, the market offers both the standard resume generated by expert writers and the AI resume produced by an AI-powered builder.
AI-powered resume builders, like ChatGPT, have revolutionised the job search process, but they are without limitations. We've summarised the pros and cons below to help you navigate the pros and cons.
- ATS-friendly: With semantic and synonym capabilities, AI-powered resumes have a high chance of passing the initial screening process.
- Consistent writing: ChatGPT resumes often feature a uniform writing style and tone, making them a reliable option for job seekers.
- Cost-effective: AI-powered resumes are less expensive than hiring human resume writers.
- Generic: AI resumes may appear generic, failing to stand out and catch the recruiter's attention.
- Incorrect and outdated information: AI-powered tools pull data from the internet, which may lead to including incorrect or outdated information in the resume.
- Lacks personal touch: An AI resume may lack the personal touch of a human writer, failing to convey your unique background and expertise.
While AI-powered resume builders offer several advantages in terms of accessibility, cost-effectiveness, and ATS compatibility, it is vital to consider the potential drawbacks such as lack of originality and personalisation. That being said, it's still a good idea, to begin with an AI resume builder as a starting point. However, keep in mind that it's crucial to customise your resume to the software engineering positions and roles you're applying for.
What should freshers and career changers with no experience put on the resume?
Starting out in any career can be daunting, and starting out in a junior software engineer position is no exception. One of the biggest challenges for those just entering the field is the lack of professional work experience. However, this doesn't mean that you have nothing to offer potential employers. In fact, you may have more relevant experience than you realise.
There are no resumes with no experience. When it comes to creating an entry level software engineer resume, it's important to think beyond traditional work experience. Consider any relevant projects, volunteer work, or freelance gigs you've done, especially those that demonstrate your software engineer skills or problem-solving abilities. For example, if you've worked on programming projects, be sure to highlight these on your resume and discuss the specific challenges you overcame. You can leverage all of that to build your software engineering portfolio.
Networking and connecting with others in the software engineering field is vital. Attend industry events, join professional organisations, and engage with software engineering communities like Stack Overflow, Hashnode, and Showwcase to make valuable connections and gain industry insights.
Keep in mind that embarking on a software engineering career is a process that requires patience. If you don't immediately land your dream software engineer position, don't get disheartened. Rather, concentrate on enhancing your abilities and professional background.
Keep your resume short and clean
As we wrap up this guide ‘Crafting a Winning Software Engineering Resume: Tips and Examples’, remember this key piece of advice: Keep your resume short and sweet. By doing so, you'll grab the attention of potential employers and leave them eager to learn more about you. Happy job hunting!
This article was contributed by Rocket Academy’s founder and CEO, Kai Yuan Neo. He completed his Master’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Science at Stanford University. He started Rocket Academy because the world still lacks software engineering talent, and people that had not studied Computer Science but wish to become software engineers have few good ways to do so.