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Computer Science Resume Example & Writing Guide

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Computer Science Resume Example & Writing Guide
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If you can invent new computing solutions, design new software systems and write new computer languages, then trust us — you can also create a standout computer science resume. Tap into your talents for critical thinking, logic and attention to detail, and you should find that writing a one-page resume is a lot easier than writing 100,000 lines of code.

This computer science resume example and writing guide will cover everything you need to know to tackle this mission-critical project and put you on track to finding the job that’s right for you. What we’ll discuss here:

  • What does a computer scientist do?
  • How do you write a computer science resume?
  • What is the best format for a computer science resume?
  • What are the five essential components of any resume?
  • How do you design and lay out a professional-looking resume?

This guide will hopefully provide a solid foundation for a stellar resume, but you can always go to our collection of 300+ resume examples for more material.

What does a computer scientist do?

Computer scientists design software and theoretical models of human-to-computer interaction (often - mathematics-based), develop new computing strategies and invent new approaches to using technology to improve our world. 

Computer scientists propose and test theories and models that provide tech solutions for a wide variety of fields. They improve and find new applications for existing technologies and help engineers and other scientists find solutions to complicated problems. They find ways to simplify complex algorithms to make computing more efficient. Generally speaking, computer scientists operate on a broader and more theoretical level than computer programmers, software developers and other professionals in related fields. 

Statistical insight

Pay and job outlook 

Computer scientists are very well paid, earning an annual median salary in the U.S. in 2020 of $126,830, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The top 10% earned over $194,430.

The employment outlook is also excellent, with jobs for computer and information research scientists expected to grow in the U.S. by 15% from 2019 through 2029. That compares to an anticipated growth in all occupations of just 4%. 

How to write a computer science resume

Writing a computer science resume should generally be limited to one page, and it should contain the following five elements:

  • Header with contact info
  • Summary/profile
  • Employment history
  • Education
  • Skills

Before you ask yourself the question on how to write each resume section, consider the first structural element of the resume. The header is an attractively designed component at the top of the page that contains your name, occupation, address, phone and email. It may also contain a photo (especially in Europe, though this is sometimes discouraged in North America) and your LinkedIn profile or another website that showcases your work. 

Some headers include all this info in a horizontal space at the top of the page, while others put the name, occupation and optional photo at the top, while displaying the contact info in a “well,” a large margin along the side of the page.  

The header is critical because it tells the employer how to contact you, but it also serves an important design function, making the entire page look more attractive. It’s the easiest part of a resume to know how to write but the most challenging to design. 

Regarding all other sections and how to write them for your resume, read in detail in the chapters below. 

Expert tip

Optimize your resume for the ATS

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are computer programs that scan resumes for important keywords before they are ever reviewed by human beings. 

Employers input the key qualifications they are looking for in a job candidate — which are typically described in the job listing — and then as resumes roll in, their ATS systems search for those crucial keywords. Resumes that don’t contain these keywords are often automatically rejected without human review. 

For example, a company may be seeking a computer scientist who must be an expert in the Unix operating system. If your resume doesn’t contain the word “Unix,” it’s very possible that it will be automatically rejected, and that a hiring manager will never even look at it. 

To pass the test of these electronic gatekeepers, it’s very important to read job listings closely for the specific skills they mention, and if you have these skills, to mention them on your resume.

Best format for a computer science resume

Some choices in resume formats include chronological/reverse chronological, functional and hybrid, which is a combination of the two.

If you have a fair amount of continuous work experience with reputable employers in your field, you can’t go wrong with listing your past jobs in reverse chronological order (last job first, first job last). This format is useful because it lists your latest and presumably most impressive jobs first.

But a functional resume, which focuses more on your skills than on listing past jobs, is sometimes the best choice for technical occupations. 

Summary/profile resume sample

The resume summary, also known as a profile or personal statement , is a short text block under the header in which you highlight your top qualifications for the job you’re seeking. It typically addresses the candidate’s experience and skills, while also often using adjectives like “dedicated,” “committed” or “passionate” to describe the enthusiasm you bring to the job.

You can omit the word “I,” as in “I am” or “I have,” since the person reading your resume will know who you’re talking about. Strive for an economy of words, but make the words you choose powerful and compelling. 

Since the summary is the most freeform of all the resume sections, it may be more difficult for some candidates to write due to writer’s block. For additional inspiration, you can check out some related Information Technology resume examples .

 Below is a resume sample of a summary for a computer science application.

Adaptable resume summary example

Solutions oriented Computer Scientist with vast experience working across all software development phases. Adept in identifying and solving complex computer system and software issues. Passionate about elevating the user experience through thoughtful and innovative work processes.

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Employment history resume example

Because employers value experience so highly, your employment history resume section is among the most important sections of a resume. List your past employers, their locations, and the span you worked there (month/year to month/year — precise dates are not necessary). 

Below each employer, use bullet points to list the main things you did there. Avoid saying “Was responsible for” and say what you actually did. Be specific, using facts and figures wherever possible (percentage growth, dollar figures, number of projects, number of employees overseen). 

Use strong action verbs (“created,” “developed,” “innovated”) to showcase your top achievements. Here’s a resume example of the employment history:

Adaptable employment history example

Software Developer at Xtremez, Los Angeles 
October 2019 - May 2021 

  • Helped to provide structure for several internal systems.
  • Built angular web applications.
  • Designed and implemented front-end and back-end solutions.
  • Aimed to achieve innovative solutions and results from concept to execution.
  • Worked as a passionate and positive team member.  
     

Web Development Intern at Nova Inc. , Los Angeles 
June 2018 - May 2019 

  • Worked across the software development cycle to enhance codes for user tools.
  • Worked in a team to design and engineer operating systems and databases.
  • Utilized problem-solving skills and advanced knowledge to solve technical problems.
  • Tested web applications, mobile apps, and networks to identify security weaknesses.
  • Reviewed code and assessed the need for changes.
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Education section resume example 

What should a computer science education section contain? Computer scientists generally need a master’s degree in computer science or a related field, representing two or three years of postgraduate study. List the colleges or universities you attended, their locations, the degrees you received and the years you attended. 

Start with the highest degree and work backwards to your bachelor’s or associate’s degree. You may also want to list any special academic achievements, such as an exceptional GPA or membership in an honor society.

If you have a postsecondary degree, it’s usually not considered necessary to say where you went to high school, though it does no harm if you have room. Below is a resume sample of the education section.

Adaptable education example 

B.S. Computer Science, UCLA, Los Angeles 
September 2014 - May 2018 

High School Diploma, South Los Angeles , Los Angeles 
September 2010 - May 2014

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Computer science resume example of skills section 

Computer science employers are interested in what you can do for them, and this is where the resume skills section plays a vital role. It should list a combination of hard skills — technical capabilities — and soft skills, which typically involve the ability to work well with others. 

Hard skills might include programming languages and operating systems in which you are an expert. Soft skills might include your talents in communication and management, as well as your ability to collaborate effectively with clients, coworkers and other stakeholders. If you speak foreign languages, mention that on your skills list as well. Check out a resume sample of the skills section below.

Adaptable skills section example
  • SQL
  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Interpersonal Communication Skills
  • Complex Problem Solving
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100+ Computer skills on a resume: What to list and where to revise
Related article
100+ Computer skills on a resume: What to list and where to revise

Computer skills should feature prominently in many resumes, but if you last performed these skills a while ago, do you need to refresh your knowledge? We look at the most popular computer skills and where to revisit your expertise.

Design and layout for a computer science CV

It would be a great shame if you wrote the perfect CV and then threw it on a page with a terrible design and an ugly layout. (By the way, in most countries outside the U.S. and Canada, curriculum vitae (CV) usually means the exact same thing as a resume.) 

Don’t underestimate the importance of looks in a CV/resume — it doesn’t need to be flashy, but it should have an attractive and professional look.

Design and layout issues include the choice of a font and font size that are easy to read, as well as adequate margins, balanced spacing and an appropriate use of white space that contains nothing at all. 

Again, we recommend that you use a professionally designed template where these issues have already been taken care of. 

Key takeaways

  1. Computer scientist jobs are highly paid and plentiful, and an outstanding resume is your ticket to finding the one that’s right for you.
  2. Your resume should contain five essential elements (header, summary, work history, education and skills) — and very little else, so it all fits on one page.
  3. You must optimize your resume for ATS software to avoid automatic rejection by a computer bot.
  4. Looks matter, so make sure your resume is attractively designed and laid out. We recommend using a professional resume template where the header is already designed. See the computer science resume example attached here, and review our expertly designed resume templates .
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