Every day software engineers solve some of the most challenging tasks in the tech world.
Yet, even the most experienced of them can be really confused and even terrified when it comes to writing their software engineer resumes.
If only you could talk directly to your future technical lead and astonish them with your impeccable knowledge and work history.
Yet often you have to go through several HR filters, non-technical recruiters, and non-technical managers before you even have a chance to talk to someone who knows what a console is.
We’re here to help.
In this guide you’ll learn:
- How to make your software engineer resume convincing even for non-technical recruiters
- How to increase your chances of landing an interview with top tech companies
- How to properly format format different sections of your resume to tell a coherent and engaging story that recruiters will like
- How to land 9 out of 10 interviews, following our 12 software engineer resume examples
Software Engineer resume sample
Check out our full guide on how to review your resume for additional tips.
Looking for related Software Engineer resumes?
How to write a Convincing Software Engineer resume
Every resume tells a story, and the story you want your software engineer resume to tell is “I’m not in the software industry by chance”.
Pretty simple, right? Well, this is not that easy to do given how many things can go wrong.
Any experienced software engineer can proudly stuff their resume with complex technical abbreviations and technologies they ever had a chance to work with.
Although this would help you get pass the ATS keywords filters, you resume would quickly become unreadable for recruiters.
Another important thing is not just to tell a story, but to tell a good story.
Did your work as a software engineer make an impact?
Do you have a passion for solving tough technical problems and results to back it up?
Every section of your resume, from Header to Education, either backs up your story, or sabotages it.
In this guide we’ll go through every section to make sure that every recruiter that reads your software engineer resume is captivated, engaged, and excited to meet you in person.
Let’s start with your resume format first.
What Is the Best Way to Format Your Software Engineer Resume?
The most common and efficient way for software engineers to present their skills and experience is to use areverse chronological resume format.
With reverse-chronological format, you present your working experience starting with the most recent one.
Let’s talk about what section you can include on your resume:
What are the top Software Engineer Resume sections
- A properly titled Header section with link to your Github and/or portfolio website
- A relevant and purposeful Summary section
- An Experience section that tell a cohesive and detailed story about your achievements
- A Skills section with the most relevant and appropriate skills for the job
- Education & Certifications sections
What do recruiters want to see in a Software Engineer resume?
- If you have a relevant skill set for the job
- If you are familiar with the key processes behind software development
- If you have a passion for software development
- If you contributed to big projects and know the impact of your work
- If you can work effectively with minimum guidance
Now that we know what are the key section of your software engineer resume, let’s finally get to writing them. You resume starts with a Header section.
How to Write Software Engineer Resume Header That Doesn’t Confuse Recruiters.
There’s been many debates online about the difference between a software developer and software engineer jobs.
While there may be differences, like education background, perspective, and other details, truth is, most companies don’t bother.
Every company has their own definition of the software engineer job, and you’ll often see the same responsibilities in both software developer and software engineer listings.
What do you do, then?
It’s simple: use in the title the one that the company uses in their job description.
If there’s a Software Developer, than this is the one. If the company uses “software Developer / Engineer” title, pick the one that is more coherent with your job history.
2 Software Engineer resume header examples
It’s also paramount to link to your Github profile in the Header section.
See, sometimes you may be recruited directly by technical leads. In this case, they often won’t bother with words and want to take a look at your code and projects as soon as possible.
They can do that only if you provide a link to your Guthub profile or a personal website.
Don’t forget that recruiters will be googling your name anyway, and the links will:
- Make their job easier
- Control what recruiters find on the Internet
You don’t want them to find that old laggy student project of yours, do you? First impressions matter a lot with resumes.
With your Header set up, it’s time to consider adding Summary to your resume.
Writing a Software Engineer Summary Section With Purpose
In a software engineer resume, a Summary section can be both an opportunity and a burden.
When technical recruiters skim through your resume, the Summary section is the first one they see.
It sets the tone for your whole resume and, in a way, prepares them for what they are going to see.
However, not all recruiters will read it. In fact, many of them will go straight into your Skills or Experience section to understand whether you know the tech stack necessary for this job.
In any case, if your summary is a boring, generic description of your job, past responsibilities, or aspirations, consider not using it at all. Otherwise recruiters will probably fall asleep.
An experienced software engineer with passion to develop complex applications and will to learn new things is looking to fulfill the position as a Software Engineer at ABQ company.
All in all, there are three main reasons why a concise, detailed summary section will prove useful:
- Career Switch
- Inconsistent work history
- Outstanding work-related achievements
Career Switch: if you’re changing careers, even from a backend developer to a software engineer, you’ll have some explaining to do.
Particularly because your past work experiences probably won’t align. Why would you suddenly make this switch? Is that a conscious decision, or are you just applying to any open position you see?
2 Software Engineer resume summary samples
Here’s a software engineer resume summary example in case of a career switch:
A back end developer with 5 years of experience in building large-scale applications and pivotal contributions to the architecture of open-source projects XYZ & RDJ is eager to use his technical skills and vast experience in building Java-based applications at ABC company’s Beta project.
In this case, the summary is a way to rebrand your past experience and make it more attractive to the recruiter.
Here’s a software engineer resume summary that grabs the recruiter’s attention with a very convincing achievement:
Led a team of 6 software developers on a WAD project that received 2018 European IT Excellence award as the most optimized and responsive online framework library on the Internet.
Now that your Summary section is set up, let’s make sure your Experience section tells a good story to every recruiter who reads it.
Telling A Good Story With Your Software Engineer Experience
There are three qualities that differentiate a tossed out software engineer resume from the one that a recruiter will read to the end:
Results-oriented software engineer resume example
Imagine having this line in your resume: “Developed a prediction algorithm”.
Really? What did this algorithm do? Did it help anything?
Write your entire experience section with those types of questions in mind:
Software EngineerWard Ltd
Most software engineer resumes that perform badly do so for that exact reason: they are awfully generic and boring.
In order to write an engaging, results-driven resume, you should state not only what you did, but what you achieved by what you did, framing it in terms of numbers.
In other words, Process, Technology, Accomplishment.
Let’s rewrite the previous example.
Bad: Developed a prediction algorithm
Good: Reduced the loading time of a 10 million photo library by 68% by developing a preloading algorithm
PRO TIPWant to make it even more convincing? Mention tech that you used to do that. If those are mentioned in the description of a job that you’re applying for, that’s double win.
Better: Reduced the loading time of a 10 million photo library by 68% by developing a preloading algorithm using Python’s SciPy library.
However, don’t use too many abbreviations, otherwise the resume will become hard to read. You’ll have a Skills section to list more of your technical skills.
Below is an example of a results-oriented software engineer resume experience section:
Software EngineerWard LtdCompany Description
How To Write A Cohesive and Relevant Software Engineer Resume Experience section
When recruiters look at your experience section, they build a mental model in their head, trying to imagine your career path and how well it’s aligned with this new position.
Inconsistent or irrelevant work history is always a drawback in the eyes of a recruiter. However, you can play on that.
Even if you had a history working as a QA specialist, you probably developed unit tests and collaborated with software engineers on different projects.
Due to your efforts the code was refactored and the software optimized. So point that out, and that will increase the relevancy of your resume.
In short: even if you didn’t work as a software engineer before, don’t make your development experience completely irrelevant.
You can probably find some workflows in your past that are close to that of a software engineer.
Below is an example of an experience section from QA tester that switches into software engineering:
Software EngineerBrandon Ltd
If you’re applying for a senior software engineer, bear in mind that this position is rarely a leadership one, but more catered towards your advanced technical expertise.
That usually means your ability to tackle complex projects, sometimes working alone with no supervision.
Now that your experience section is cohesive, relevant, and results-oriented, let’s take it one step further with an impeccable Skills section.
How To Tackle Software Engineer Resume Skills section
When writing Skills section, technical specialists in general tend to list all the platforms and programming languages they ever put their hands on.
This might be a mistake.
See, recruiters dealt with hundreds of candidates, and they know that 85% of applicants lie on their resumes.
When they see a long list of technical skills, that causes some reasonable doubt. Do you really know all these platforms? Are you really good with all of them?
Chances are, you’re not. Even if you played with a piece of software for a week, that doesn’t mean you're as good with it as with other skills of yours.
So it’s good to prioritise what technical skills to list on your resume and what not.
First, don’t list outdated, irrelevant technology that you’ve been working with 10 years ago.
We all know that the industry changes too fast and listing Pascal on your resume might look a bit odd.
Second, don’t list obvious skills like Microsoft Office, or experience with Windows OS. It goes without saying you’re good with those tools given the nature of your job.
Finally, carefully study the job description and the company you’re applying for. Prioritise the skills in your resume that the company needs.
When you list a certain technology or platform on your resume, it’s a good idea to list adjacent technologies as well. For example, with Java it’s J2EE, Spring, JSTL, etc.
That shows you don’t just put the buzzword there and actually have working experience with a whole stack.
How to Put Technical Skills on Your Software Engineer Resume
Below are some of the most popular technical skills you’ll find on software engineer resumes:
Top 17 technical skills to mention on Software Engineer resume
- JSF, JSP, Spring
- Jquery, Vue, Angular, React
- CSS, HTML
- AWS, GCP, Azure
- BigData technologies
How to Put Soft Skills on Your Software Engineer Resume
Soft skills have a much lower priority for software engineers compared to the technical skills.
First of all, they are not that necessary as for, say, salesperson.
Second, even if such skills as Collaboration, Time Management, and Creativity are crucial to the SE success, it’s hard to prove you actually have them by simply featuring them on your resume.
It’s better to create a context for your soft skills when you describe your work experience and replace this section with more important ones.
7 soft skills to put on your Software Engineer resume
- Strategic Thinking
- Analytical Skills
- Time Management
How to Put Projects on Software Engineer Resume The Right Way
Projects are usually a section that is highly recommended for graduates that lack vast working experience, yet have some personal projects that are relevant to the job they’re applying for.
Add Projects section to your resume if you have major achievements outside of your work that are related to the job.
Those can be open-source contributions, professorship at prestigious tech Universities, or freelance work with major tech companies.
In any way, make sure those projects stand out and add value to your resume without taking too much precious space.
Project section is formatted the same way as an Experience section, yet you can leave the dates out due to their flexible nature.
Let’s talk about how you should format your Education section now.
How to Format an Education Section on Your Software Engineer Resume
In most cases, companies require a computer science degree in their job description, or a related one.
Although you might, theoretically, substitute education with a vast working experience, software engineering usually requires a very solid technical background.
When writing about your education, you can leave out your GPA if it’s below 3.0 and also list relevant to the position coursework.
The coursework can be an important factor. For example, if you’re applying as a software engineer for a finance analytics company, any financial-related courses would cast a good impression.
Certificates on your Software Engineer resume
Although certificates won’t substitute a real work experience, they can significantly strengthen your overall software engineer profile.
Here are some of the certificates to put on your software engineer:
Top Certificates to put on Software Engineer resume
- Oracle Certified Associate (OCA): Java SE Programmer
- CIW Web Foundations Associate
- CIW Web Development Professional
- Oracle Certified Professional (OCP): Java SE Programmer
- Microsoft MTA
- Microsoft Azure
- AWS Certified Developer
- Red Hat
- Create a cohesive story with your resume that shows both your technical expertise and impact
- Carefully learn the job description and format your key resume sections according to it
- Don’t list all the technical skills on the resume, but only those you’re highly proficient with, prioritising those that the job requires
- Don’t forget to include links to your Github profile and portfolio in your Header section