Over the past months, the Enhancv Career Counseling team has helped hundreds of people write their resumes.
Whether it is with grammar and styling, content improvements, or quite frankly an entire revamp of the resume – we’ve seen a lot of resumes first hand.
We also started to note some patterns and figured that we should share with you, our users, some best practices we’ve defined along the way!
Software engineers are a special kind. We know it, we work with them every day 🙂
Writing a great resume for an engineer is also different, it’s different from a Sales or marketing resume, for it requires a good balance between the technical and the business side, with more emphasis on the first.
At the end of the day, when a recruiter or a hiring manager views an engineering resume they ask themselves one question – would this engineer be an impactful addition to my team? We are here to ensure that the answer to this question is a roaring YES.
So what are the most common mistakes engineers make?
The resume is not a cover letter
We see too many engineers who feel like they need to use the space on the resume to tell their story. Don’t get us wrong, your career progression and personality is essential to the recruiter and hiring manager, and you will need to share it with them; however, the resume is not the place for that.
Avoid explaining your journey within a company and stick to the core of your impact with each role. Talk about the technologies, frameworks, and tools you’ve used, but without going into implementation details.
If you wish to add a ‘Summary’ or ‘Overview’ section there’s no issue with that, and many times can even make your resume more complete and coherent. However, make sure it is not longer than 3-5 sentences, keeping it on a high level, and focus on the kind of professional you are, without going into the details of a specific role.
Unless you’ve spent most of your career on a single language, and looking to further explore it, do not mention a specific framework within the summary.
The truth is that recruiters and hiring managers see hundreds of resumes a day. They’ve become experts at scanning them and fishing out the relevant information. Your resume needs to accommodate them and be to the point through surfacing relevant information as quickly as possible. As you write your resume keep asking yourself – is this information relevant to the recruiter?
You will hopefully have your time, during the interview, to go into details and explain the systems you’ve built, the improvement you’ve pushed, and how you’ve utilized various technologies, the resume is usually not the place for these. The resume is the place to stick to the bottom line and to the core of what you’ve done.
Skills and tech section
Many companies out there use ATS (Applicant Tracking System) as the first filter in their hiring process. This means that an algorithm parses your resume, extracts the most relevant information, and matches it with the job description and hiring criteria the company provided. A skills section helps do just that.
We highly encourage you to have a specific section where you outline all the tools, technologies, and frameworks you have experience with. You know better than us, a company’s tech stack is one of the first things that need to suit your future role.
Confuse resume content with the interview content
A good interview is inherently different from a good resume. In a resume you want to be short and to the point, directly talk about impact and skills, and exhibit to the recruiter the bottom line.
In an interview, you want to narrativize the achievements you have – that great software you scaled, these features that helped users, and the automation that made your company more efficient.
It is crucial not to mix the two. Keep the lengthy success stories to the interview, and in your resume stick to the impact of these successes.
Think only about tech
As you probably realized by now, we are big believers in straightforward and to the point resumes. You are an engineer, your responsibilities are around the performance, scalability, and quality of the software.
Nonetheless, it would only benefit your resume if you can also mention business numbers.
Let’s say you’ve developed a certain part of your company’s software. You used great technologies, solved complex problems, and streamlined the whole process. This is prime content for your resume, and you should mention it.
Sharing on your resume the impact such a project had on the business would only benefit you.
Ask yourself – how many users used this feature? How many partners/clients benefited from it? Did it drive value and how much? If it improved a process, by what percentage? The holy grail here is to relate your tech to revenue.
You are not a business owner, but relating your technical skills to impact on the company would make you a more wholesome engineer and a much more likely candidate for the job you’re after!
Checking what are the most common mistakes on resumes is a great way to begin your job search preparation. But no one said you shouldn’t use a little help to stand out in the sea of candidates. Take our Career Counseling service for a spin today to get detailed feedback from the resume experts at Enhancv. We are here to provide you with all the information you need to launch your career forward.
Make one that's truly you.