There are a number of challenges to creating a software engineer resume that will open up new job opportunities. Once you understand how to address those issues, you will be ahead of the job search game. As a technical resume writer, I’d like to share my expertise on how to survive this often frustrating and unsettling process. Let’s get started so you are on your way to an accomplishment-based resume that will be read by hiring managers.
Typical resume writing advice tells you to ‘quantify your accomplishments to demonstrate your value.’ If only technical resume writing was this easy and straightforward. The reality for many of my software engineer clients is that they often don’t know the financial bottom line. How then, do you quantify the value you’ve provided? The answer is that you often don’t, so you need to think about the qualitative results.
Your Software Engineer Resume – where to start
Let’s go through an exercise to decide what to include in your resume. Sit back and relax and think about your answers to these questions – our goal is to uncover both your quantitative and qualitative results.
- What deliverables did you produce? Did the business benefit or did the technical environment benefit?
- Who utilizes the product or service and for what purposes?
- Can the business do something now that it couldn’t do previously?
- Did you make the business more efficient by saving time, money, or other resources? Can you estimate the savings as hours, days, dollars, or other units of measure?
- Did the business users readily adopt your solution? How happy were they with what you delivered?
- What challenges came up and how did you resolve them?
- Were you brought on board to turnaround any projects? Why was the project struggling?
- Did you help the business avoid or mitigate the risk of noncompliance, process failure, or other undesirable outcomes? Can you provide an estimate about the probability and severity of these risks?
- Did you make the business more effective by increasing quality, throughput, or productivity? Can you estimate the improvement as a percentage of overall gain?
Your Software Engineer Resume – what language to use
Understand that you’re not really seeking “proof” of value here. The goal is to provide credible and supportable evidence of value creation.
Describe the environment so the reader understands the context in which you worked.
Served as a Software Architect and Software Engineer for systems integrations for a company with an aggressive mergers and acquisition (M&A) strategy– there was always an ongoing queue of challenging projects.
For newer achievements, start with the benefit and follow with the technology.
- High Speed Data Service Monitor: Developed a prototype and final solution to demonstrate the feasibility of a mobile friendly, single page web application to monitor data services.
- Leveraged a unique combination of existing technologies: PHP Backend, using the Laravel MVC framework, to present a REST API to be consumed by an application written in Angular 1 and styled with Bootstrap. Used OpenStreetMap and a Postgres database with PostGIS for customer mapping; visualized maps with Leaflet.
For older achievements, remove the technology and focus on the business or technical benefits.
- Call Tracking Support Tools: Developed a call center web application to track calls and capture metadata for use in servicing customers that was fully integrated with diagnostic tools. Utilized call data statistics to enable management to understand the scope of customer complaints and identify trends in order to drive positive customer interactions.
When you have the numbers, start with the story and follow with the numbers.
- Led an enterprise-wide modernization plan to transform software development practices in a change resistant technical environment. Gradually gained the trust of the IT Director and CIO, using strong value propositions that freed up budgets, and resulted in a reduction in development releases by 40%, as well as respectful relationships throughout all departments.
If you created a product that drove significant financial gains for the company, say that upfront.
New Products: Developed products directly tied to huge revenue gains and a competitive edge for the company.
Created a highly desirable prediction model responsible for 30%+ growth in customer volume. Designed the tracking product to measure the online performance of TV commercials, with the results being measurable and comparable at a detailed level. Delivered benefits that included:
- Intelligent, algorithmic determination of the actual TV share.
- Identification of TV probabilities in the customer journey and conversion.
- Performance analysis of each individual TV spot for optimized campaign planning and cross-channel analysis for optimized budget allocation.
Don’t rely on technology alone to get interviews. Unless you are using very emerging practices and tools, you are actually competing against a number of other software engineers with similar achievements. Think about the context in which you worked and then tell your story.