With a great software developer resume, you may get your pick of jobs in this high-growth career in information technology . You must have been thinking ahead when you chose this career, as software developers are highly sought after. Your unicorn-level job doesn’t have to be a dream when you combine your skills with a resume written to impress. Because there are so many software developer jobs out there, you need to think hard about what you want and how to present yourself to reach that goal.
- Target your resume for each niche and job
- Beat the Applicant Tracking Systems that filter out resumes that lack the right keywords
- Use compelling language to convey your accomplishments
- Develop a creative, accessible design and layout
First, let’s look at your options.
What does a software developer do?
Software developers specialize in creating, implementing and maintaining software and databases, but software development is an umbrella for many different skills. In fact, CoderHood list 19 different types of software developers:
- Front-end or client-side
- Backend or server side
- Middle tier
- Data scientist
- Big data
- Software development engineer in test (SDET)
You may already have a specialty or know what area interests you most. You may have a job doing one type of development and be looking for a new challenge. Whatever your situation is, a great software developer resume is the place to start.
The field of software development is expected to gain 409,500 jobs by 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s a 22 percent increase — much faster than the average for all occupations.
But because opportunities abound, many people are preparing for careers as software developers.
According to DataUSA, the number of computer and information sciences and support services graduates in the workforce grew from 2.06 million in 2018 to 2.17 million in 2019, an increase of 5.5%. And yet the supply of software developers is not keeping up with the demand. Just as you have options in the type of work you do, you also have options in how you do it.
Many software developers choose to work as contractors instead of employees. That means they have the freedom to choose each project they work on, but it also means they are looking for a job each time a project ends. Whatever you choose, you can get ahead of the field if you know how to craft a software developer resume that gets into the hands of recruiters on the lookout for great candidates.
Most larger employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter resumes according to whether they contain essential keywords. These keywords typically describe critical job qualifications, and they’re input into the ATS for each open job. Study the job description to find out what the employer considers to be the crucial qualifications for this job, and if you meet them, be sure to mention them in your resume. Otherwise, your resume may be rejected without any human review.
How to write a software developer resume
If you do project-based work, you may want to format your resume a little differently than most. All resumes contain components in common, and here are the sections you definitely need to include:
- The resume header
- The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
- The employment history section
- The resume skills section
- The education section
Choosing the best resume format for a software developer
When listing your work experience, you have a couple of options. If you’ve followed a more traditional career path holding full-time jobs for various employers, your best option is probably the chronological resume format , where you list your current or last job first and your first job last. But if you’re a contractor who has done multiple projects for a wide range of companies, you should consider the functional resume format, which allows you to list your work experience by project or by specialization.
Your decision may depend partly on the type of job you are applying for. Your software developer resume is a living document that should be customized to fit each application. You may want to have an employment history section for one application and a project section for another.
For additional inspiration on how to write your resume, you can check out related IT resume examples such as:
- Systems Analyst resume sample
- Technical Project Manager resume sample
- Computer Science resume sample
- Network Engineer resume sample
- IT Director resume sample
- Software Engineer resume sample
- Film and Video Editor resume sample
- Motion Graphics Artists resume sample
- Network Systems Analyst resume sample
- 3D Animator resume sample
- Web Developer resume sample
- Programmer resume sample
- Data Scientist resume sample
- IT manager resume sample
- Data Analyst resume sample
- IT Project manager resume sample
Resume summary example: code your career success
Also known as a profile or personal statement , the resume summary is your “elevator pitch” for the job you want. Play up your achievements without boasting or exaggerating. The key to a good resume summary is compelling language and vivid detail. You want to give recruiters a sense of your professional personality and what you have accomplished in your career as a software developer.
Don’t be afraid to blow your own horn a bit. In fact, that is exactly what you should be doing here. Employers want to know what you will bring to the job. Keep that in mind as you write. Think about examples of successes you are most proud of and feature them. You have two to four sentences to sell yourself to recruiters, so don’t be shy, but beware of adopting a tone that sounds arrogant or entitled. In addition to your successes, think about the qualities that make you an excellent software developer and add those to your profile.
The median annual salary for U.S. software developers, quality assurance analysts and testers was $110,140 in May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Surveys show that recruiters will spend less than 10 seconds looking at your software developer resume, so make sure your summary/profile hits all the highlights.
Experienced Software Developer with expertise in design, installation, testing and maintenance of software systems. Equipped with a diverse and promising skill-set. Proficient in various platforms, languages, and embedded systems. Experienced with cutting-edge development tools and procedures. Able to effectively self-manage during independent projects, as well as collaborate as part of a productive team.
Software developer resume skills example
Software developers need a lot of technical knowledge, but they need other abilities, too. The skills section of a resume is a concise overview of your professional abilities. It’s obvious but true that software developers must have expertise in many technical areas and keep up with advancements in the field.
Here are broad examples of technical skills, also known as hard skills, that recruiters will be looking for:
- Data structures and algorithms
- Programming, scripting and markup languages
- Source control
- Text editors
- Integrated development environments (IDEs)
- Operating systems
- Networking basics
- Basics of testing
- Cross-platform software
- Encryption and cryptography
- Software development life cycle (SDLC)
Software developers also need soft skills, or the interpersonal skills necessary for most jobs. Don’t neglect these when considering your skills section. Here are some examples of the soft skills recruiters look for:
- Ability to accept constructive criticism
These are just a few examples of traits you should consider incorporating into your skills section. The most important skills are the ones that appear in the software developer job listing itself. Those are the skills the ATS program will be using to rank your resume.
Your first step to developing this resume section is to create a master list of all your skills, attributes, successes and accomplishments . You can go back to this list every time you apply for a new job to cherry-pick the most relevant ones. You can also keep this list and add to it as you learn and achieve more in your career as a software developer.
If the listing of desired skills in a job advertisement looks too daunting, try plugging the ad into a word cloud program such as wordle or wordart.com. This also works if the listing is too vague. The bigger the word in the cloud, the more you should try to organically integrate that idea it into your resume.
- Advanced Analytical Thinking
- Software logic
- Software Troubleshooting
- Knowledgeable in User Interface/ User Experience
Employment history resume example: share your story
As noted above, your options here depend on whether you have worked full-time jobs for employers or acted as a contractor for many different projects. Software developers have the option of doing project-based contract work. This allows them the freedom to set their rates, work only on projects they choose and take time off between contracts. If you are a contractor, your resume is constantly in need of updating. Make sure you add new projects promptly, especially if they include new skills or experiences . You can drop earlier work that shows only basic levels of skills as you advance.
Don’t neglect work you did in school or in your free time if it illustrates a different skill than the ones you have exhibited in other job descriptions. This is especially important if you are just entering the job market.
Consider the course of your career when you decide whether to use an employment or project history for your software developer resume. Remember that this choice will define your image in the eyes of an employer. Either way, you should be detailing your growth and increasing skill level. This section is not a listing of your job responsibilities. Instead highlight your accomplishments, problem-solving and the challenges you overcame to successfully complete a project. Use details and data wherever possible. Include the names of any programs you worked in and the results of your projects. Did you get a project done under budget or earlier than expected? Did you add creative features or solve a difficult challenge? Those are examples of achievements to include.
U.S. News and World Report ranked software developer as the No. 2 job in its list of Top 100 Jobs for 2021.
Strong action verbs
You can have a great track record of software development, but if you don’t make it sound amazing, your resume may be overlooked. Demonstrate that you are a go-getter who knows what is needed to get the job done. Here are some words you might use to describe your hard skills:
Also think about those soft skills and describe them using action verbs like these:
Sometimes, the way you say something makes a big difference. These words can turn a good resume into a great resume.
Software Developer at Accrue Partners, New York
September 2013 - September 2021
- Collaborated productively with product team to understand requirements and business specifications around portfolio management, analytics and risk.
- Coded software updates and alterations based on detailed design specifications.
- Solved complex problems using the latest in cloud, mobile, and web technologies.
- Developed and presented findings and solutions to audiences including senior executives and stakeholders.
Junior Software Developer at CyberCoders, New York
June 2011 - August 2013
- Addressed and fixed complex bugs.
- Implemented and updated application modules under the direction of Senior Software Developers.
- Worked at an independent level, while also serving as an effective and enthusiastic collaborator.
- Performed automated testing tasks and developed complex features routinely.
Education section example: learning never stops
Software developers need to constantly refresh their skills, so make sure you include post-college studies in your education section. Your career typically requires a bachelor’s degree. If you are a recent graduate, consider adding your GPA if it was impressive. On the other hand, the longer you are out of school, the less important your college degree becomes. Technology is constantly evolving, and your skills need to evolve too. The resume education section is a good place to show off the post-college training you have undertaken to keep yourself up to date. If you have any special certifications in your field, list them here as well.
Master of Science in Computer Science, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
August 2010 - August 2012
Bachelor of Computer Science, Dartmouth, Hanover, NH
September 2006 - May 2010
Layout and design: create an excellent user experience
Just like a great software program, your CV or resume format should be as straightforward and elegant as possible. The same principles that apply to your software design should apply to your resume design. Your resume (also known as a CV outside the U.S. and Canada) should be clean, linear and easy to read.
Software development is a creative career, so think about adding one small flourish, but don’t go overboard. Once your resume gets past the ATS program, you have your chance to impress the recruiter. But remember that the number of resumes they see means they are looking for reasons to eliminate yours. Don’t give them that chance.
As a software developer, you likely have an eye for good design. Even so, that doesn't mean you have hours of time to spend on resume page layout. If you want to create a software developer resume quickly and efficiently, consider using a pre-designed resume template. Resume.io has hundreds of resume templates and CV formats to choose from in four main categories: Professional, Modern, Creative and Simple.
Choose the template that works best for you and customize it using the resume builder . There, you can adjust your template's fonts and design elements to create the perfect format for your software developer resume.
- Clearly label the sections of your resume
- Leave an appropriate amount of white space
- Proofread carefully
- Have someone else look it over
- Put your contact information in a prominent spot
- Use graphics or images that the ATS may be unable to scan
- Use artsy fonts that are difficult to read
- Try to cram too much information into each description
- Leave unexplained gaps in employment
Key takeaways for a software developer resume
- Software development is a rapidly growing field with many different paths.
- Mine those keywords from the job description to get your resume past the ATS.
- Make sure your resume is tailored to the skill sets each employer requires.
- Decide which sections work best for your software developer experience.
- Use strong action verbs, data and details to illustrate your abilities and achievements.
- Keep your format and template clean and legible.
- A resume builder can save you time while creating a great resume.
This software developer resume guide was created with your career in mind – we hope it helps you reach your goals!