Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Software Developer Résumé Tips

I’m currently in a situation where I’m part of a hiring team for two different companies.  I’ve been up to my eyeballs in developers’ résumés and I have to say that I’ve been less than impressed.  The problem is that very few developers put anything in their résumé that distinguishes themselves from others.  For the most part I’ve seen long lists of tools and technologies used, lists of places the applicant has worked along with more lists of tools and technologies they’ve used, and a short list of their education.  None of this makes the applicant stand out as a developer.

Here are some tips that will help your résumé stand out and will get you to the next stage in the hiring process.

Passion

Tell me that you actually like doing what you do.  Tell me about the books that you’ve read, the user groups you attend, the blogs that you read and the podcasts you listen to.  It’s even better is you can link to your own blog and the open source projects you work on.  Tell me why these things are important to you and how they help make you a better developer.  I need to know that you’re not just coasting through your career and that you’re constantly trying to improve your skill set.  I guarantee you that the job you’re applying for is not exactly the same as the one you have and I need to know that you will be able to adapt and thrive in a new environment.  I want to know that you bring fresh ideas to the team and will help the team take advantage of changing technologies.

Champion Change

Tell me about how you’ve driven change in your development team to make it more productive, raised the quality of the code or reduced the bug count.  Tell me about a pain that your team had and what you did to fix it.  I want to know that you care about your team and that you care about the products your team produces.  I need to know that you will be an asset to the team and will take action when you see a need.

Stand Out

Remember that you’re certainly not the only qualified candidate applying for the position and you must make your résumé stand out.  Think about what’s on your résumé and how unique it makes you look.  Ask yourself if it highlights what makes you the best candidate for the position.

Work Experience

Yes, work experience is important.  The problem is that I’m learning way more about the companies you’ve worked for than I’m learning about you!  Don’t just give me your company’s elevator pitch, your job description and a list of tools.  Tell me about a valuable skill that you learned.  Tell me something outstanding that you did to make the project succeed.  Tell me how this experience has made you a better developer and how you will be able to apply those skills at your new job.

Think about what makes you stand out as a developer and ask yourself if that is reflected in your résumé.  Make sure that your strongest assets are highlighted and will stand out to the person reading it.  If you follow this advice you will have a much greater chance of moving to the next stage in the hiring process.

2 comments:

axe said...

You're absolutely right - that's would be amazing to listen to the candidates' heartbeat.

But the only problem here is that in the most of cases the HR people or recruiters are the first readers of our resume. And in my experience they are afraid to get involved with somebody "mad" (in their opinion).

Stefan Moser said...

@axe You're right that a resume has to target multiple audiences, so make sure you have something in there for each audience. Personally, I tailor certain sections of my resume for an automated extraction tool knowing that often it's not even a human that first reads your resume. Have the necessary information for HR, recruiters, extraction tools and the lead developers. Satisfying only one or two of these groups will not get you passed the resume screening stage.

I'm just frustrated because I know some of these people are talented developers but their resumes are so bland and don't communicate their skills. Isn't that what a resume is for after all?