A Developer's Guide to a Jaw-Dropping Resume

If you're a developer, you probably don't have any trouble finding a job. But perhaps 'a job' isn't exactly what you're after. Hoping for something more along the lines of 'the job you'll happily postpone a Counter-Strike tournament for'?

No, that's not utopia. True, you probably won't feel that way about any job 100% of the time. But most days? It’s definitely possible. However, to land that kind of job, you'll need to have what it takes and, even more importantly, you need to know how to show it.

The number one tool to do just that: put together a killer resume.


The Not-So-Subtle Art of Resume Writing


Without a well-written CV, your chances of landing that dream job of yours are slimmer than the waist of an average supermodel.

Why is that?

Because when the job is really great, LOTS of people apply for it. And the more developers apply, the less time and patience the HR people have to dig around your LinkedIn profile, Google stuff they don't understand and even read your resume properly.


10 Steps to an Attention-Grabbing(-and-Holding) CV


1. Up to Date or Not at All

This might sound like a no-brainer but surprisingly often developers forget to make sure their CV is up to date before shipping it to its destination. If you too have been using a resume that could use some freshening up, please PLEASE do something about it.

Right now.

Because an old CV is like old fish - it stinks from a mile away. And typically ends up in a trashcan (virtual or physical).


2. Brevity Is Your Friend

You’re probably gonna hate our guts for this but we have to say it anyway: the ideal resume is 1-2 pages long. 3 tops.

Yeah, you read that right.

If you’re lucky, the HR at your dream company will dedicate a full minute to reading your CV. And guess what - if he or she thinks it’s too long, they won’t bother reading it at all.

So, for the love of code, resist the urge to describe everything you’ve ever done in painful detail. 


3. Relevant Stuff Only

To keep things brief, you’re going to have to leave stuff out. And that’s perfectly ok. In fact, it can be for the best. We hate to break it to you but companies don’t really care what high school you went to and that you like to knit in your free time (sorry).

Nice work there by the way ;)

Nice work there by the way ;)

Sure, it’s good to mention a couple hobbies in your CV but that’s where you should draw the line. Cherry-pick the info that’s most relevant to the job you’re applying for and include only that.

Tip: When in doubt what to put in and what to leave out, try to look at your CV from the perspective of your potential employers - what would be most important to them?


4. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

If you’re highly confident and have no problem talking about your success, feel free to skip this point. If, on the other hand, you’re not overly comfortable with writing about how great you are (yes, you are - don’t you dare doubt that!), read on.

There’s no place for false modesty in a resume. We’re not saying you should blow your experience out of proportion or outright lie but don’t be shy. Talk about your accomplishments and skills the way your undoubtedly proud mom would!

Ahem, that is if she understood what it is you actually do…

Anyways...you worked hard to get where you are now, so don’t underestimate yourself. Especially not in your CV!


5. Career Death by Vagueness

Imagine a recruiter calls you with a “ life changing job opportunity” for a “world-class, high-tech company” that offers “unheard of salary and abundance of benefits”.

Pi**ed off yet?

We would be.

‘Cause this guy or gal mastered the fine art of vagueness to the t and just said a bunch of words without really telling you anything.

Now imagine an HR person reading the typical developer’s resume.

Work Experience: Worked at company XYZ as a developer. Worked with a team on a global project using top level technologies and frameworks.

Spot a difference between this and the recruiter? We got one - the name of the company is disclosed. That’s pretty much it.

Bottom line: Be concrete, i.e. include specifics of the projects you worked on and what you accomplished and mention numbers whenever you can (reduced loading time by 68% etc.).

This can be a little tricky to combine with the ‘3 pages max’ rule we talked about earlier so you’ll have to make some compromises.

Tip: Talk about the most important stuff first and see how much space you have left for the rest.


6. Leverage Transferrable Skills

Ok, now this sounds exactly like the vague BS recruiters pull all the time. We know but bear with us for just a moment.

If you’re just starting out or want to change your career focus, you might not have enough relevant skills or experience for your dream position. If that’s the case, try to include jobs or projects that showcase your ability to learn quickly and any other skills that might come in handy in your ideal job.


7. Kick Things off with a Summary

Begin your resume with a summary - sounds a bit counterintuitive maybe? But seriously, starting with a sentence or two that sums up who you are and what opportunities you’re looking for goes a long way.

To tell you the sad truth, it may be the only part of your CV the HR person is going to read.


8. When Can You Start?


Can you start working right away or do you need to sort things out with your current employer? Availability can be a crucial factor for the company you’re applying to so be sure to put it on your resume.


9. Call Me Maybe?

Don’t blow it by forgetting to type your contact info into your CV. An email and phone number is enough, though, no need for a full address.


10. Code Samples at the Ready

Ok, code samples don’t technically go inside your CV but they’ll come very much in handy once the company reaches out to you. Alternatively, you can send them along with your resume as a little bonus ;)


Summing Things Up

Keep your resume brief, relevant, concrete and up to date, kick it off with a summary statement, talk about your achievements with confidence and don’t forget to put in your availability and contact information.

For extra brownie points, have your best code samples ready to send ;)

If you're serious about getting that amazing job you've been fantasizing about, you should also check out our Guide to Landing Your Dream IT Job below. It's free!


Great Developer Resume Infographic