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Software is the key to digital functionality.

Software is the mechanism by which countless businesses and companies operate.

As a software engineer, you are responsible for creating and maintaining essential software in a variety of professional disciplines – it’s an important role to say the least!

So to get you into that position, we’re going to help you write an excellent resume that will communicate your value as a software engineer.

An effective software engineer resume is properly formatted and well-written.

No shortcuts!

If you follow our guidelines, your resume is sure to open doors for you as you search for the perfect position.

So where to begin?

The following article will lay out for you the essentials of good resume writing.

Summary

  1. Resume Template
  2. Formatting
  3. Writing Your Resume Summary
  4. Areas of Expertise
  5. Writing Your Work Experience
  6. Writing Your Education Section
  7. Additional Sections
  8. Resume Points to Remember
  9. Resume “Don’ts” to Remember
  10. Some Helpful Tools

Let’s begin with a sample software engineer resume to demonstrate how all the resume pieces fit together. Then we will break each section down to really drill into how to write the best software engineer you possibly can.

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Software Engineer Resume (Text Version)

Contact Info:

Brad Sherman
[email protected]
1 (312) 678-0733
Chicago, IL 60603
linkedin.com/bradsherman

Summary Statement:

Software Engineer: Experienced Software Engineer with history of developing complex and efficient code, identifying and repairing bugs, and creatively finding solutions. Skilled at forecasting timetables for the development and implementation of software and proficient at analyzing company/business requirements and planning software models accordingly.

Key Accomplishments/Areas of Expertise

  • ASP, HTML, XML, CSS
  • Python, C++, Java
  • Customized Code
  • User Interfaces
  • REST APIs
  • Collaboration
  • Proactive
  • Troubleshooting

Professional Experience:

Falcon Engineering | Chicago, IL
Senior Software Engineer | July 2017 – Present

  • Work with software team to determine best practices for projects
  • Create intuitive software that answers company needs and strategies
  • Test software and address problems/issues via programming changes
  • Help train employees in software use
  • Provide continuing support for software users

VTF Research Group | Chicago, IL
Software Engineer | January 2014 – May 2017

  • Designed REST APIs for user functionality
  • Developed integrated software to improve operating efficiency
  • Assembled detailed progress reports, including calculations and documentation
  • Produced and structured order entry and management systems
  • Corrected software defects and bugs
  • Completed all projects on time and according to specifications

AP Flight Systems | Chicago, IL
Junior Software Engineer | June 2011 – November 2014

  • Implemented Java components utilizing industry design patterns and application architecture
  • Managed application development across multiple environments and platforms
  • Collaborated with Senior Engineers to provide creative software solutions for aviation industry
  • Maintained knowledge of industry trends and developments

Education/Certifications

Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering

The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Champaign, IL,
Class of 2011

Formatting

Software requires a structure and specific coding in order to be functional.

Similarly, your resume requires a specific template and detail in order to be effective.

Formatting and language are key.

In today’s world, it is becoming common for employers to use software bots to scan resumes for relevant data.

Essentially, a computer decides if your resume is worthy to be considered by a hiring manager. Because of bots, it is necessary to make sure that your resume is scannable.

If your resume reaches a hiring manager, it will be read over for approximately 6 seconds before either being discarded or set aside for future use.

Because of this, you want your resume to be highly readable.

Considering the layout of your software engineer resume, it is best to use reverse chronological order, especially for the work experience section.

This layout assures that your most recent position and use of relevant skills is put to the forefront for the reader to see right off.

Also choose a simple and functional font.

Another formatting must is to make sure you are making good use of white space. Align columns, text, and lists in an orderly fashion.

You want your resume page looking balanced and clean.

Your Resume Summary

Every resume should begin with a summary of your top skill areas.

Since it will be viewed first, it is quite important – so let’s get yours right!

Use 2-3 sentences to state your position and qualifications. Your language should be succinct, but not too general.

You want to list your top skills, to give an impression of what you’re capable of and to demonstrate your value as a candidate.

An effective summary will set the stage for a great resume to follow.

PRO TIP: You may be wondering why we didn’t mention including a professional objective at the start of your resume. While that used to be common practice, it is no longer acceptable. In today’s competitive job market, it’s all about the skills!

Have a look at these examples to see what makes for a good summary (and one that is not so good):

Yes!

Experienced software engineer with history of developing complex and efficient code, identifying and repairing bugs, and creatively finding solutions. Skilled at forecasting timetables for the development and implementation of software and proficient at analyzing company/business requirements and planning software models accordingly.

No!

Good software engineer who can make code and fix problem bugs. I can make a plan for a software model and deliver the software on time. Tell me what you need for your business and I will deliver.

The first example demonstrates a candidate with solid skills and proficiency in key areas.

This summary uses power words to good effect. Power words help to convey ability and action.

Overall, this appears to be a valuable candidate with relevant experience.

The second example is lacking in several crucial aspects.

The language is far too general and does not convey needed specifics. We are left unsure of the candidate’s actual skill level and areas of proficiency.

This is everything you do not want in your summary.

Remember, your summary sets the scene for the remainder of your resume.

It has to be effective and convey important information about your skill level.

If you don’t tell them, they won’t know!

Areas of Expertise/Key Accomplishments

Your summary introduces the reader to your skills.

Now it’s time to drive the point home.

Create a list of your Key Accomplishments, or Areas of Expertise.

Remember that a resume is all about your value to the potential employer, what you can potentially bring to the table. So you need to highlight your expertise.

Use bullet points to make your list.

Example:

  • ASP, HTML, XML, CSS
  • Python, C++, Java
  • Customized Code
  • User Interfaces
  • REST APIs
  • Collaboration
  • Proactive
  • Troubleshooting

The list should be a breakdown of your Hard skills and Soft skills.

Hard skills are skills you’ve acquired on the job or during your education. They pertain solely to your vocation.

Soft skills are your personal skills and attributes.

Creative thinking, ability to collaborate, problem solving skills – these are soft skills.

Compile your list and be sure to include all relevant skills.

PRO TIP : See the job description for skills the employer or company is looking for in a candidate. It is more than likely that you’ll have skills that match. Obviously you’ll want your Areas of Expertise to relate closely to what is listed in the job description.

(See below for a helpful table of some suggested hard and soft skill ideas to inspire you in writing your skills section.)

Your Work Experience Section

You’ve written your summary and highlighted your skills.

Now it’s time to demonstrate how those skills have been utilized over the course of your career thus far.

What positions have you held?

Did you excel in those positions?

What roles did you play on a day to day basis?

You will answer these questions in this section.

Begin with layout.

Using reverse chronological order, start listing your positions beginning with the most recent.

Then the position prior to that and so on.

Unless you lack experience (more on that later!) there’s no need to list every job you’ve ever held or jobs that are not relevant to your current field.

As you draft your work history, be sure to include:

  • The company name
  • Where the company is located
  • What job you performed there

It’s very helpful (to the reader) to include dates of employment for each position. It shows you’ve got nothing to hide.

However, perhaps you’re a bit sheepish about a short term of employment, or perhaps a large gap of time between jobs.

If you’re in this position, you may choose to leave dates off your software engineer resume.

Keep in mind though that should you reach the interview stage, you will most likely be asked about missing dates. Your potential employer will want to know details about short spans of employment and time gaps between positions.

Start your entry with the details of your former position, including company name, your title, and how long you worked there.

Then, using 3-5 bullet points, list the daily roles you performed for that employer.

Examples:

Yes!

Falcon Engineering | Chicago, IL | Senior Software Engineer | July 2017 – Present

  • Work with software team to determine best practices for projects
  • Create intuitive software that answers company needs and strategies
  • Test software and address problems/issues via programming changes
  • Help train employees in software use
  • Provide continuing support for software users

No!

Falcon Engineering | Chicago, IL

  • Best practices
  • Make great software
  • Look at problems and help the issue
  • Support for people and customers

The first person is obviously a professional with a robust skill set.

The bullet point descriptions give us a healthy overview of the candidate’s responsibilities and skill areas.

Relevant power words are utilized to drive home the applicant’s ability and sense of initiative.

The second person is failed by their poor language and lack of specificity.

They may actually be a competent software engineer, but there’s no way to determine that from the information provided.

This highlights the importance of language use and word choice. Also, you need to be specific.

PRO TIP: Keywords are words that are highly relevant to the profession. In this case, words like “software” and “programming”. The job description will give you an idea of good keywords to use.

Software Bots

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) uses bots to scan resumes for proper keyword usage and language.

If the company you’re submitting to is using an ATS, you might want to consider using an alternate formatting for your Work Experience section.

One option is to use a paragraph instead of bullet points.

Bullet point format:

Falcon Engineering | Chicago, IL | Senior Software Engineer | July 2017 – Present

  • Work with software team to determine best practices for projects
  • Create intuitive software that answers company needs and strategies
  • Test software and address problems/issues via programming changes
  • Help train employees in software use
  • Provide continuing support for software users

Paragraph format:

Work with software team to determine best practices for projects. Create intuitive software that answers company needs and strategies. Test software and address problems/issues via programming changes.

Or a combination of the two formats:

Work with software team to determine best practices for projects. Create intuitive software that answers company needs and strategies. Test software and address problems/issues via programming changes.

  • Help train employees in software usage and best practices
  • Provide continuing and comprehensive support for software users

This alternate approach allows for more keywords and varied language.

However, keep in mind that paragraph formatting creates issues with the readability of your software engineer resume.

Not something to take lightly!

So we suggest that you only use this alternate formatting if you are highly concerned about getting your resume past an ATS.

Your Education Section

Did your education play a pivotal role in your development as a software engineer?

This is the section where you list your education details, starting with your highest level of schooling.

Example: Master’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, High School Diploma, etc.

For each entry, list the institution and your area of study.

Don’t forget to add minor degrees, concentrations, and special academic achievements.

Even listing your GPA is an option, and preferable when you’re just beginning your career.

Example:

Bachelor of Science in Software Engineering
The University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Champaign, IL,
GPA: 3.8
Class of 2011

If you’ve grown your knowledge and skills via other avenues since graduation, include those details as well.

Example:

  • “Software and Beyond,” Professional Workshop, Chicago, IL
  • “JAVA 2016,” Certification, Online Training

Additional Sections

Want to list a special accomplishment that doesn’t seem to fit elsewhere on your resume?

Is your work history thin?

Consider adding an additional section to highlight certain achievements that demonstrate your competence and value.

Such as:

  • Awards and honors
  • Publications
  • Noteworthy Projects
  • Social Media Influence
  • Speaking Engagements
  • Hobbies/Interests
  • Volunteer Work

No Experience

Having no experience can create problems when drafting a resume for a specific vocation.

But the problems are not insurmountable!

Alternate formatting might be required, depending on your situation.

One option is to move your education section up the page to sit under your summary.

Since you lack experience, your education details are going to be of high priority to the potential employer. They will help boost your value and viability as a candidate.

Your work history section presents another challenge.

Try and tailor your bullet points to reflect as closely as possible the skills required in the job description.

Mine whatever experience you do have for relevant skill points.

Since you will be dealing with software engineering, think of former jobs that involved computers, organization, and management.

Have you ever worked with a team?

Have you dealt with inventory or ordering?

Do you have practical experience with mechanical parts or assembly?

Such skills could prove relevant for you!

So don’t sell yourself short. Just take the time to think about what experience you do have and how it can prove useful to you now.

Resume Points to Remember

There’s always a few things to take note of lest we forget them.

Last minute details.

First off, remember to include your relevant contact information. Email addresses, a LinkedIn profile, or phone number.

Use space well

Hopefully we’ve shown you how to make good use of the space you have. Start with a well-written and impactful summary, followed by areas of expertise, your work experience, and finally your education information.

Select relevant power words

Power words can really add zest to a resume. So make sure you use them well. Remember to check the job description for power word ideas!

Use a proofreader

Mistakes are easy to make, even for a good writer. For this reason it is prudent to acquire a trusted proofreader to look over your software engineer resume and give it a thumbs up.

A Few “Don’ts”

Here are some things to avoid/change as you read back over and polish your resume.

Avoid first person language

“I” and “me” are words that should not appear on your resume. A resume should be a list of your skills and expertise. First person language gets in the way of communicating your relevant qualities.

Use one page

There is a reason most resumes are only a single page in length. One page is easy to read and to organize. All your relevant information should fit nicely if you’ve followed guidelines.

Avoid repeating yourself

Repeating yourself can be an easy mistake to make, especially if you’re not used to writing. Take care to watch your language and keep it varied.

(We’ve put together a handy table of power words below to use for inspiration.)

Fonts and formatting

Don’t underestimate the importance of font choice and proper formatting. They can make the difference between a resume that is readable and one that is illegible! Choose a professional font and follow our formatting tips.

Some Helpful Tools:

Software Engineer Resume Power Words

  • Worked
  • Created
  • Tested
  • Helped
  • Provided
  • Designed
  • Developed
  • Assembled
  • Produced
  • Corrected
  • Completed
  • Implemented
  • Managed
  • Collaborated
  • Maintained
  • Formulated

Software Engineer Resume Skills List

Hard Skills Soft Skills
ASP, HTML, XML, CSS Collaboration
Python, C++, Java Proactive
Customized Code Troubleshooting
User Interfaces Detail Oriented
Rest APIs Efficient