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Five tips for writing an effective, head-turning resume

March 11, 2022
Terminal
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Your resume is your digital first impression. Along with your social media presence, a CV is the first thing the recruiter and hiring manager see when you’re going through the job application process. Before you set up a call with a recruiter to explain why you are a good fit for a role, your resume has to do the work of providing basic information about who you are professionally.

Below are a few tips to help you build an effective resume that helps you land an interview.

Use the number of pages needed to tell your story effectively.

Most software engineers can just use one page to showcase their skills and experiences, and that’s particularly true for new grads or junior developers. But more experienced developers might need two pages to share more specifics.

Think about who will read the resume.

There are usually three people looking at the resume, and you have to take them all into account: a recruiter, an engineering manager, and the ATS or applicant tracking system that pulls in your data and parses your info.

The recruiter wants to scan your resume briefly to get insight into what types of applications you have used before and the tech stack you have used throughout your career. Not all recruiters will be technical enough to understand every detail of your profile, so make sure you write clearly and succinctly with them in mind. For instance, at the end of each experience or project, add a bullet that clearly indicates the production environment. Make it easy for the recruiter to scan, but include enough details for the engineering manager.

For the ATS, make sure to use keywords relevant to the role. You also might want to use one column instead of two – using more than one column can trip up an ATS. According to Indeed, it’s safer to use one column because applicant tracking systems might “reject resumes with fancy formatting, logos, images or graphics.”

Let the data do the talking.

You can’t measure how successful a project without quantitative data. Perhaps the most important thing the hiring manager will want to see is how your work has made a business impact in the past. You should detail these experiences and use a few bullet points to list out measurable results you contributed toward. This will show how you connected your work to the business you worked for, and it will demonstrate that you understood the priorities of the business.

“In the end, I want a technologist. Somebody that likes to write software, somebody that really enjoys writing quality software that meets customer needs and not just a science experiment… Very business minded, very business focused. We’re really trying to move things forward for the business, so that’s an essential piece.”

Ryan Sokol, Vice President of Engineering at DoorDash, on what he looks for in engineering hires.

Put your experiences in the best light.

Scott Shipp, Staff Engineer at eBay, writes on dev.to that engineers shouldn’t use generic phrases like “designed and implemented features,” “fixed bugs” or “deployed releases.” You should be more specific: “You have about ten minutes and maybe thirty lines to show off your proudest best-of-the-best achievements.”

Make sure you take it a step further and communicate what that feature or project contributed to the team or company, such as “helped decrease fraudulent logins with implementation of new auth feature” or “optimized engineering team productivity with the development of a new automated process.”

As a rule of thumb, you should thoroughly read the job description and customize your resume to the specific job you’re applying for. Look closely at the skills the role requires, and think about framing your experience in a way that fits the opportunity.

Show you have a product-first mindset.

The types of startups that Terminal partners with value a product-first mindset, or having an interest and ability to transform business needs into actionable items. In the day-to-day, many engineering roles require that the developer works with business stakeholders or product managers. The developer has to be able to translate ideas, share their perspective and make a recommendation. If you can demonstrate you have this mindset on your CV, you will already have an advantage early in the job application process! Show how you partnered across other organizations, dealt with complex problems relating to scale, and came up with solutions.

Create a profile with Terminal today.

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