Disclaimer: this is my advice; take it with a grain of salt.
Overall, the concept is that you should have content there that will market you to be a viable candidate. Put your best out there. The same should go for your portfolio.
The mindset to think about as well is that recruiters will only have a few moments of their attention. They probably have dozens of others to look at. Imagine someone who has to review Google applications which are accepted worldwide. Additionally, someone reviewing your resumé might be a Software Engineer on your team, manager, or something else. They have other things to do.
Awards, certifications, extracurricular activities, accomplishments and moments, put whatever is going to convey to others that you’re capable.
The most important details should be at the top. My reasoning for this is that it’ll be the first thing people see. Starting with content that is ordered by most impactful would make sense.
Like advertisements on billboards and TV, your resumé is an advertisement of you. Convey that you’re a candidate who is capable enough to be productive, or at least have the potential to be.
I’m of the opinion that if you have whitespace on your resumé, it should only be used for spacing so that content is not a cluttered, unsightly mess.
Any whitespace that is there, “just because” wasteful. That whitespace could be filled with useful content.
How should you order the different sections of your resumé? Education first? Side projects? Work history?
I think peoples’ opinions can vary a lot by this, but to me, it’s really whatever is the most important.
I’d rather have a list of all the technologies I’m familiar with at the top than to show that I worked in Technical Support for a few years (not bashing anyone, I really did).
Although I graduated with a degree in Computer Science, my GPA is dangerously low because of some bad choices, so I opted to place my multiple hackathon competition awards before my degree.
When applying for a job as a developer, in my opinion, placing open source contributions before mentioning that you had a degree in some non related field is wise.
Numbers, Numbers, Numbers
Quantifying achievements is one of the ways
Maybe you worked at Starbucks for two years (actual fact from someone I worked with) - it’d be nice to mention that you handled the morning rush hour for that entire time. Perhaps you worked in sales and absolutely killed it.
Your resumé should highlight what you’ve done and who you are.
If you were the only person who did some substantial task, if you played a large part in some huge effort, if your ‘get stuff done’ attitude or quick thinking paid off, you should mention it and be as specific as possible!
I had multiple internships that were only supposed to last a few months. My hard work led to an extension of one from one semester to two years.
Another internship was extended from one summer to a part time job. The effort from this second internship led them to hire me full time as a salaried employee - before I received my degree, which was a bare minimum of all their employees.
In the past, one of my job titles was ‘Software Engineer’. I wasn’t Senior or anything, yet, I was one of three developers for a multi-million dollar project, and I was literally the only one who was tasked with preparing the product for release.
You can bet those details went into my resumé - I wasn’t just any other Software Engineer who had made general contributions. I was a large part of my team’s success which included a few dozen people.
Group Projects, Side Projects
Post the projects that you think are going to say the most for your capabilities. If you had undergone some special circumstance with you team, achieved something like winning an award, or you yourself made a large and substantial contribution to the team, highlight that section with such details.
Post a description of the cool parts of the app, the significant portions. Don’t just say ‘here’s a TODO list app’ or ‘this thing does this’. Mention that the TODO list app has authentication, or something like 90% code testing coverage. Mention that one side project consists of a bazillion lines!
resumé Design is a Skill; Embrace it
Creating a document that is designed to be:
- intriguing within the first few seconds
- formatted well to be easy on the eyes, not cluttered
- well written and free of grammatical errors
- effective with limited space
- accurate in the information portrayed
- informative and not boring
is hard. No one ever starts out creating a resumé thinking that it’d be a piece of cake.
Like programming or writing well, resumé design is a skill that must be refined through a deep investment of time and brain power. People pay good money to have resumés created for them.
My perspective of being able to build a resumé which emphasizes the points above (and to a high degree) can be transferred to other things; think about what makes a catchy article or website without cheesy clickbait vibes.
The possibility of having your resumé updated often is real, especially when you’re growing fast (new skills, promotions, etc) and gaining new experiences. Revising it is a pain every time, and paying for someone to do it for you can become costly.
As resumé crafting skills improve, producing something of quality will take less time. I really believe it can help you become a better writer.
In the world of Software Development, documentation is extremely important. In my experience, it’s as serious and important as code. You could have the coolest, most powerful and neat API around for some random thing, but it’s almost useless if documentation is nonexistent or inaccurate and erroneous.
I believe that an effective Software Engineer is not someone who just produces quality code, but someone who can also create digestible, organized documentation and convey complex ideas and details effectively, among other things.
Writing well is a great way to improve your value and effectiveness as a Software Engineer; resumé design is really good practice.
Include impactful content that can set you apart from everyone else.
Be specific about what you’ve brought to the table so that employers know can you can bring to theirs.
If you feel like you haven’t done anything interesting or comprehensive, do the best you can. Coming to such a realization that you might not have done anything substantial is a great time to start.
I learned a lot from The Google Résumé: How to Prepare for a Career and Land a Job at Apple, Microsoft, Google, or any Top Tech Company. I didn’t read front to back but skimmed and took bits and peices of things. Note: this is an affiliate link, I’m just trying different things out.
The author of that book, Gayle Laakmann McDowell, also wrote the famous and well known book, Cracking the Coding Interview (not an affiliate link).