Guide to write a developer resume that stands out

The software development industry has witnessed a great boom in recent years. As more and more innovative companies enter the industry, the requirement for talented software developers is also increasing.

However, tech companies realize that not all applicants for a developer position are the right fit. Hence, the challenge is finding the perfect developer resume that matches the requirements as closely as possible from a pool of tens (sometimes hundreds) of resumes. 

From the applicant's perspective, this is an important aspect to focus on. As competition rises over the years, we must ensure that our resume stands out and recruiters feel confident enough to move our application further. Our developer resume needs to be composed strategically and highlight all our strengths, so we can be confident about getting well-paying offers

Why a developer resume is important?

A resume aims to provide a quick and concise overview of our details, educational and vocational background, professional work experience, skills, interests, and achievements. Recruiters should be able to understand our career trajectory and what made us interested in the position. Hence, a great developer resume must have all the important details in a logical order to make recruiters interested in pursuing us further. 

However, a solid developer resume is hardly enough to land an interview. We must ensure that we are prepared for the latter stages, whether a screening call with a recruiter or a test assessing our theory and skills. Hence, landing an interview depends on showing and proving our abilities.

How to write a resume that appeals to hiring managers

Creating an outstanding developer resume requires us to understand the audience we have to create it for: recruiters and hiring managers. Since they are the ones who shortlist resumes and send them ahead, we need to go through their process of how and what they look for in a resume. Here is how the average process goes:

  • Recruiter's quick scan: Recruiters then quickly skim through the selected resumes directly and gather an overview of all the information. According to research, the average recruiter takes 7.4 seconds to skim a resume. The resume will get screened out if they don't see any relevant details. 
  • Recruiter's second read: If recruiters find the details they are looking for in the first scan, they go through the resume again and read it from top to bottom. Once they feel confident about it, they shortlist it for later stages.
  • Technical screen: When recruiters find a candidate's resume a potentially good fit for what they are looking for, they approach the applicant. The next stage could be a phone call on which the applicant undergoes technical screening or they are given a take-home assignment that tests their skills.

What to include in a developer resume

Now that we understand how the average recruiter reads resumes, we can better plan what to include (and not include). As recruiters read resumes from top to bottom, we must structure them accordingly. This means including the most important details at the top and gradually moving on to the less important ones.

Here is how we should structure our developer resume based on our experience level (in order):

For junior developers:

  • Introduction paragraph (optional)

  • Work experience, if they have any, including internships

  • Contribution to real-world projects, ex. open-source projects

  • Education details

  • Technical skills

  • Projects that stand out

  • Leadership positions in student groups

  • Contact information

For senior developers

  • Introduction paragraph (optional)

  • Work experience

  • Languages and technologies that you master best

  • Education details

  • Technical skills

  • Open source contributions, talks, publications, etc.

  • Certifications

  • Personal projects

  • Contact information

Tips for writing a resume for non-FAANG companies

FAANG companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google) and other TOP companies with similar impact, have a different approach to hiring than non-FAANG companies. For starters, they don't have to worry about dealing with a high volume of applications for each position.

In addition, the hiring process at such companies is relatively less standardized and commonly begins with a screening call. Hence, we need to modify our developer resume according to these aspects if we want to land a non-FAANG role.

Here are some tips to ensure your resume catches the eyes of a non-FAANG recruiter:

  • Include relevant keywords in the introduction paragraph: While the introduction paragraph is optional, we must ensure it is well-written if we decide to include it. One way to do this is to include all the keywords relevant to the position and in the job description.
  • Clarify your proficiency in technologies: Recruiters want to know what and how well we know different tools and frameworks. Hence, we must show our skills through every opportunity, for example, by mentioning personal projects or work we did with a certain technology at previous employments.
  • Give context on the specifics of your work: Anyone reading our resume should know all the highlights of our personal and professional work. However, we must also provide the necessary context that helps hit the point home. After all, they need to know what it means to say we helped increase productivity by 60%.
  • Use active language: The resume's language and tone significantly impact the reader, just like any other written work. Hence, we must use an active voice and directly state our strengths, previous work, and interests.
  • Include statements backed by evidence: Recruiters want to read about and see our work. Therefore, we can easily gain recruiters' confidence with actual examples and evidence backing our claims, like a portfolio of projects, reference letters, etc.
  • Show off skills that best match the position: We cannot use the same resume for every position. Our resume needs to be personalized to the position and emphasize skills and experience relevant to the position. Recruiters can tell when a resume is tailored to the position's requirements and appreciate it.
  • Add certifications/courses completed: Certifications and developer courses are important to an applicant's profile and must be highlighted in the resume. They show their self-learning capabilities and interest in advancing our skillset.

Avoid common mistakes

There are many mistakes that novice and even experienced developers make when creating their resumes. It doesn't matter if it is a software, full stack or other specific type of developer resume.

Such mistakes may sound inconsequential, but can significantly damage a recruiter's first impression of our application. Hence, we have to know about such common mistakes so we know what to avoid.

Here are some of the most crucial ones to look out for:

  • Skip unprofessional photos: Humans have a habit of forming a certain judgement of someone from how they look. Since our resume has to cast a good first impression, the picture on our resume should be professional-looking and exude confidence.
  • Properly format the resume: As discussed earlier, our resume has to be properly and strategically formatted. A poorly formatted resume will hinder the recruiter's ability to assess  our experience and skill set. It may make them disregard our application, even if we are the right fit.
  • Target the right audience: In some cases, HR personnel handle the resume screening stage and decide which ones are relevant. However, if we send our resumes through a reference, a technical person will read them. Hence, we should ensure that our resume's content suits the reader so they can comprehend it properly.
  • Don’t self-rate your skill level: Many developers rate their skill levels to quantitatively describe how well-experienced they are. However, it is better to avoid this since it leaves a bad impression on recruiters because it is wholly subjective and gives no tangible information about our abilities.
  • Look out for non-clickable or outdated links: Developer resumes commonly have hyperlinks to relevant material like their GitHub profile, homepages of previous employers, portfolio pieces, etc. All such links need to be properly inserted. Otherwise, it will leave a bad impression on a recruiter who is interested in our profile and wants to learn more.

  • Don’t include unnecessary details: Recruiters ideally want to take one or two looks at a resume and quickly decide if it's relevant to the position. Hence, we cannot afford our resume to have unnecessary details that don't tell the recruiter what they want to know.
  • Avoid internal jargon: Since software development is very technical, it's unsurprising that developer resumes are often filled with technical terms. However, we need to avoid this and keep the language simple. It is important not to alienate the reader and ensure they get a solid idea of our experience and capabilities, no matter their background.

Ditch traditional job search and land interviews faster

We know how much of a headache interviews can be - coding tests, the HR hoops - it's enough to make any developer cringe. That's why we've flipped the script and got the process down to a few simple steps - create your profile, get matched, and apply to the best job opportunities.

No job search. Just perfect matches.

Actions to improve your resume

Here are some other ways to help further improve your developer resume:

  • Cover letters: With cover letters, we can expand on important details mentioned in the resume and tie everything together to provide a well-defined and complete developer profile.

  • Grow your professional network: By connecting with more developers, we can get more feedback for improvement and send our resumes whenever the right opportunity arises.

  • Keep your online profiles up to date: A developer's resume must have links to their profiles on developer forums and professional platforms. The profiles there must be updated with the latest information. 


Here are the top resources to create a strong developer resume:

  • Tools to create a resume: Many online tools help simplify the process of creating and formatting a resume, like Standard Resume and Zety. They can handle aspects of clean formatting so we can focus on the content.

  • Online blogs and articles: There is abundant information online by software developers and tech recruiters where they share their respective experiences. Such material can be a treasure trove for guidance to create a solid developer resume. 

  • Resume templates: By choosing existing resume templates, we don't have to start from scratch when creating a resume. There are many templates online in different formats like .pdf, .word, .docs, and even LaTex.

Wrapping up

Recruiters at companies have years of experience scanning and judging applications. Hence, when they see a weak resume, they quickly disregard it. Therefore, we must strategize our developer resume and optimize it to stand out immediately.