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You might be confident in code, but when it comes to applying for a job, the recruitment process can feel like a language you’ve never learned. Hiring managers are long on expectations and short on time. They’re looking for a perfectly structured resume that shows off your software engineering cred at a glance.
Meeting those high expectations can be daunting.
But you’ll be pleased to know that writing a good software engineer resume is surprisingly similar to writing good code. It should contain sentences as well-constructed as effective functions, be bug free, and adaptable to new requirements.
And you’re about to learn how easy that is to achieve. You’ll even get software engineer resume examples, so you can see exactly how it’s done. Read on, and you'll see how to write a job-winning resume for software engineer jobs that’s as robust as your finest code.
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Looking for advice for other IT career advice? Check out our related resume guides:
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- Best Resume Examples for All Jobs
Software Engineer Resume Example
Diligent software engineer with 5+ years experience in commercial application development. Eager to join Cyclone Inc. to build innovative and cutting edge business solutions for the impressive suite of clients within its global reach. In previous roles, slashed downtime by 25% and ensured 98% on-time project completion. Also identified and dealt with a significant process bottleneck that boosted coding efficiency by 35% when resolved.
- Built innovative microservices and Web Services (incl. SOA/SOAP/REST/XML).
- Utilized Cloud Foundry for efficient building on top of Kubernetes.
- Efficiently deployed and integrated software engineered by team and updated integration/deployment scripts to improve continuous integration practices.
- Liaised with Product Managers to identify minimum viable product requirements and clearly defined feature sets into well-scoped user stories for individual team members.
Key achievement: Maintained maximum uninterrupted flow of business-critical ops. Cut downtime by 25% and costs of warranty by up to 45%.
Software Engineering Intern
September 2015–May 2016
- Supported Kell Tech’s testing and engineering processes.
- Confirmed that completed software met client requirements.
- Completed maintenance on existing programs.
- Worked closely with product team on scope of future projects and innovations.
- Carried out continuous identification, measurement, and improvement of processes.
Key achievement: Identified and dealt with a significant process bottleneck that boosted coding efficiency by 35% when resolved.
Bachelor of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University
- Heavy focus on full stack engineering with modules on both front and back end processes.
- Built a mock payment system for an Android ecommerce app for a senior year project.
- Agile frameworks
- Interpersonal communication skills
- Java, HTML, CSS, SQL Server, No SQL
- Status tracking frameworks (Jira and Rally)
- Practical knowledge of SQL and database concepts
- Solid knowledge of cybersecurity principles
- Cloudera Certified Developer for Apache Hadoop (CCDH)
- Oracle Java Certifications Associate Professional
- Puppet Labs Puppet Developer Certification
- Dutch (Advanced)
You’ve just seen a perfect software engineer resume template. Now it’s time to learn how to do it yourself.
1. Create a Solid Software Engineer Resume Structure
Every software engineer worth their salt hates messy spaghetti code. Likewise, recruiters hate messy, poorly structure resumes. They expect everything to be just right, so they can read quickly and easily. Here’s how to do it right.
- Use reverse-chronological format.
- Create an eye-catching resume header that includes your contact information.
- Use elegant and readable resume fonts, set your resume margins to an inch on each side and set your line spacing to 1.15.
- Divide it up into clear resume sections, emphasizing each one with a resume header set at a font size that’s larger than your body text. 12 points for the body and 14–16 for the headings is ideal.
These are the sections a software engineer resume should have, from top to bottom.
- Header with contact info
- Summary statement/career objective
- Work experience
- Additional sections (certifications, hobbies and interests, projects etc.)
And a final formatting tip for you. Save it as a PDF unless you’re specifically told otherwise. PDFs keep your structure intact and they’re readable on pretty much any device.
Find out more about resume formatting here: Resume Formats: How to Choose the Best One For Your Needs
Now I’ll let you in a little secret. Don’t start with your resume introduction, you’ll just get stuck. Start off with your work experience and leave that first section until last.
2. Get Started With a Software Engineer Work Experience Section
Your work experience section is the most important of all. Get it wrong and it’s like a fatal exception error, it’ll abort your chances of success. Here’s how to get it right.
- Use reverse-chronological order, your most recent job first.
- Include the basic details of each post, your job title, company name and location and dates of employment.
- Write up to six bullet points describing the job for each entry. Start them off with a resume power word to help make them pop. Make sure they’re targeted to the job requirements, and write results-based statements, not a plain shopping list of duties.
- Use the PAR or STAR method to structure your bullet points. Don’t be put off by those acronyms, they just mean problem or situation/task plus action and result. It’s how you explain how you’ve used your skills to solve problems and achieve results at work.
- Quantify your achievements with numbers wherever possible. Talk about percentage increases or decreases, cost savings or profit increases, even numbers of team members. In short, if there’s a metric, add a number.
Now let’s see how it works in practice.
Software Engineer Resume Sample: Work Experience
Lead Software Engineer
Lead Software Engineer
That’s the same candidate but a completely different story when it comes to the impression that their work experience section makes. The first is energetic, achievement driven and number rich. The second is like expecting Windows 10 but getting a command prompt instead, it’s got basic functionality but otherwise it’s a boring disappointment.
Find out more about creating a powerful work experience section: Top Tips for a Job-Winning Resume Work Experience Section
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building your resume here.
When you’re done, Zety’s resume builder will score your resume and tell you exactly how to make it better.
3. Add Your Education
It’s just your education section, nobody really pays attention to it right? Wrong. Recruiters still want to see you’ve got food qualifications for your software engineering resume. This is how to ensure your education section is just right.
- If you have two or more years experience. Stick to the basics. Name your school, list your degree and your dates of study.
- If you’re still studying or you’re writing a recent college graduate resume, then add more details. Consider listing relevant coursework, extracurricular activities, and academic achievements like being on the Dean’s list.
- Also add an expected graduation date if you’re still in school, and only include your GPA if it’s 3.5 or above and you graduated within the last two years.
Here are two examples, first from an experienced candidate.
Java Software Engineer Resume Examples: Education Section
University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.Sc., Software Engineering
And here’s an example for a less experienced candidate.
Software Engineer Resume Template: Education
2019–2022 (expected graduation date)
University of Oregon
B.Sc., Software Engineering
See more about writing an A-grade education section: How to List Your Education on a Resume
4. Include Software Engineer Skills Tailored to the Job
As with the rest of your resume, don’t be generic. Recruiters hate it. They want to see you have the skills needed for this job. Not just any old software engineering gig. So here’s how to write a software engineer resume skills section that’ll make you the answer to their prayers.
- Read the job ad carefully and make a note of all the skills-related keywords you see. Now scan back over your education section and work experience section, making a note of the skills shown there and thinking of any other relevant examples from your work history and training.
- Use that information to create a master list of your software engineering skills, see which of those match the job requirements, and choose 5–10 to include on your resume.
- Don’t stop there though, check your work experience section again. Does it help to back up your skills? If not, consider a rewrite, you need it to strengthen and back-up your expertise.
- Remember to include a mix of soft and hard skills. Computer skills, IT skills and programming languages are obvious choices. But don’t neglect soft skills like interpersonal communication. It’s well established that soft skills are often overlooked in the tech industry, so make sure you address that need.
Software Engineer Skills for Your Resume
- Time management
- Organizational skills
- Communication skills
- Conceptual skills
- Creative thinking
- Decision making
- Problem solving
- Computer skills
- Project management skills
- Technical skills
- App development
- Machine learning
- Agile development methodologies
- C, C++
Find out more about including skills on your resume: 99 Key Resume Skills: Best List of Examples
5. Add Extra Sections to Your Resume
Your skills section is the last of the “standard” software engineer resume sections. But if you want to get noticed you need to give hiring managers a little something extra.
Think of extra sections as something like an easter egg. It’s not strictly necessary to make the software function, but it’s a heck of a nice surprise for the user. And if you get your additional sections right you’ll give recruiters a pleasant surprise too, and more reason to interview you!
- Good ideas for additional sections are industry certifications, projects, conferences, and volunteering.
- For candidates with less experience, a hobbies and interests section can work well too. Just keep it relevant and relatable.
Mid-Level Software Engineer Resume Examples: Extra Sections
- Keynote speaker at PyCon 2018 and 2019.
- FOSDEM attendee, 2016 to 2020.
- Volunteer tutor and mentor for regional high school programming club.
Find out more: What to Put on a Resume: Good Things to Include
6. Summarize the Best Parts into a Software Engineer Summary or Objective
Now that you’ve reached the end of your resume it’s time to go back to the start. Your resume summary or objective acts as the introduction to your resume and should help to hook the hiring manager from the outset.
A resume summary statement is for experienced candidates and describes relevant skills, experience and accomplishments. A resume objective statement is for those just starting out and outlines your most relevant skills while stating your career goals. But you can use the same strategy to write both.
Here’s how to start your resume:
- Read over what you’ve written in your resume already, there’s a hint in the name, your resume summary or objective summarizes your selling points as a candidate.
- Choose 2–3 of your best achievements and skills from your experience and skills sections.
- Use this formula to construct your summary/objective:
Adjective + Job Title + Years of Experience + Achievements + Skills + What You Want to Do for the Employer
Software Engineer Resume Summary Example
Creative software engineer with 8+ years of experience. Eager to join Toggle Switch Inc. to help develop reliable products for e-commerce businesses. Previous accomplishments include increasing code-efficiency of J & B’s payments portal by 60%, and helping to boost client retention by 55%. Led a team honored with the 2018 Oregon Tech Trends Award for security in cloud computing. An empathetic team player and mentor, and an innovative creative thinker.
That’s the same candidate, yet the difference is night and day. The first example is powerful, energetic and features stand out achievements to impress the hiring manager. The second is just going to make them move straight on to the next software engineer resume in the pile.
Resume Objective for Software Engineer Example
Passionate software engineering graduate with a hands-on, high energy approach, well-developed skills in Agile methodology, and an unapologetically user focused philosophy. Have developed several android and web apps, including a voice-controlled IOT home automation system using Google Assistant and Raspberry Pi.
Seeking work as a software engineer to complement my computer science degree. Familiar with common programming languages. Hard-working and reliable.
The first example leaps off the page. Even without much experience the candidate really shines as a solid prospect. It’s eager and features skills that are very much in demand. The global market for IOT is set to reach $1.6 trillion within the next four years.
The second is just plain lazy. That could describe absolutely any recent computer science graduate. There’s no fizz, nothing compelling at all. And remember, above all else you need to stand out as the best candidate from the outset.
More experienced candidates could also try writing a summary of qualifications. Find out how to do it here: 20+ Summary of Qualifications Examples for Your Resume
7. Remember to Write a Software Engineer Cover Letter
I’ll be honest with you, some employers want to see cover letters and some don’t. Most surveys of employers put the split at 50/50. And that’s the problem, you just don’t know who wants one and who doesn’t. It’s better to always write one and cover your bases. If you come across an employer who demands one then it might just be the deciding factor. If they don’t then they can just ignore it.
Here’s a quick guide on what to include in a cover letter.
- A cover letter complements and enhances your resume, it shouldn’t just be a rehash of what you’ve already written. Include additional information about your achievements to help sell you as a potential employee.
- Make sure you have a cover letter that’s short and to the point. The ideal cover letter length is no more than one page at most.
- Incorporate a hook into your cover letter opening. Grab the hiring manager’s attention and keep them reading with one of your best and most compelling professional achievements.
- Use the middle of your cover letter to add even more proof of your abilities.
- And in your cover letter ending, say thank you and include a call to action. Ask for the chance to discuss the role further and throw in one last tidbit about what you can offer so they can’t help but want to get in touch.
See a more detailed guide here: Software Engineer Cover Letter Examples
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
Recap—Software Engineer Resume in a Nutshell
Here’s your tl;dr step-by-step cheat sheet:
- Set up the right resume layout to maximize readability.
- Start with your work experience section, focusing on achievements, not just duties.
- Get your education section right, adding extra details if you lack experience.
- Compile a tailored skills section with a mix of skill types.
- Add relevant extra sections.
- Finish where your resume begins with a snappy summary or objective.
- Throw in a well-written cover letter.
Thanks for reading. You’re ready to write the best software engineer resume. Now it’s your turn to comment.
- What are the biggest challenges of writing a software engineering resume?
- What part is hardest to write?
- Let me know. Let’s get the discussion started.