You've devoted years to mastering programming languages and cloud computing, and now it's time to craft a software engineer resume that leads to interviews.
As an expert in Python and Java with a keen ability to navigate SQL scripts and identify bugs, you need to stand out among the 250 resumes that claim similar competencies. Recruiters, when scanning software engineer resumes, seek professionals with industry expertise who can read, write, and debug code to fulfill business requirements. Your resume must encapsulate all these aspects while being concise enough to grab recruiters' attention within the few seconds they spend on it.
Fortunately, we have put together a comprehensive guide to help you create a software engineer resume that impresses tech firms and secures interviews.
In this guide, you will learn:
- How to craft a convincing software engineer resume for both technical and non-technical recruiters;
- How to improve your odds of securing interviews with leading tech companies;
- How to properly format various sections of your resume to present a coherent and engaging narrative that appeals to hiring managers;
- How to prioritize your technical skills and provide context for your soft skills;
- How to develop a targeted resume that results in interviews.
A few excellent software engineer resume examples
Entry-level software engineer resume
Why this resume is effective:
- It highlights actual project experience;
- It incorporates a GitHub link in the header.
You're likely to gain more software development knowledge during your initial months on the job than throughout four years as a computer science major.
Both technical and non-technical recruiters appreciate real project experience, as it demonstrates your ability to thrive in a production environment, collaborate with a team, and adhere to guidelines.
If your work history is sparse, focus on presenting your experience through software projects. Side applications, contributions to open-source code, and even relevant Fiverr gigs can give you a competitive advantage over candidates with less experience.
When emphasizing a software course or an internship, concentrate on the projects you completed and their successful outcomes. Refrain from mentioning minor contributions to projects that remained incomplete.
Your GitHub profile can be a wildcard in the hiring process. Some recruiters may scrutinize it to make their decision, while others might disregard it completely.
Prepare for the possibility that someone will review your GitHub page. What will they find? Unnecessary comments? An empty profile? Regardless of whether the code was written three or five years ago, your work will be evaluated based on today's standards.
Include your GitHub link on your resume only if you believe it adds value. Otherwise, it could work against you.
Discover more practical advice in our entry-level software engineer resume guide.
Mid-level software engineer resume
Why this resume is effective:
- It emphasizes work experience;
- It's tailored to the company environment.
Mid-level software engineers are indeed the "workhorses" of the programming world. They deliver significant impact through routine code, optimize their workflows precisely, and exhibit excellent coding habits.
Highlight the following qualities in the context of your software projects to present yourself in the best light:
- Ability to deliver substantial amounts of work with minimal or no supervision;
- Active collaboration with team members and team leads;
- Deep understanding of platforms and tools relevant to the target company's tech stack.
Customizing your resume to the specific job description is a highly effective technique for securing interviews.
Research the target company's blogs, LinkedIn profiles of its developers, and social media to learn more about the organization's tech environment and current challenges. Use this information to create a targeted resume with maximum impact.
However, avoid focusing solely on the job description, as these are often composed by non-technical HR managers.
Senior software engineer resume
Why this resume is effective:
- It highlights the ability to guide and develop teams;
- It demonstrates your capacity to solve company-level problems.
Beyond operating independently at a highly-skilled level, senior software engineers are also capable of leading teams and serving as mentors.
When applying for senior positions, concentrate on your team's achievements and collaboration, rather than your personal accomplishments. Tech companies seek senior software engineers who can effectively guide less-experienced staff.
Examine the size of your target company's software department and emphasize experience with teams of comparable sizes. Showcase your successes as a leader and prove your ability to consistently solve company problems.
Structure parts of your experience using a challenge-solution-business outcome framework to attract the attention of your dream company.
Looking for related software engineer resumes?
- Information Technology resume
- Web Developer resume
- Enterprise Architect resume
- Network Engineer resume
- Android Developer resume
- Angular Developer resume
- DevOps Engineer resume
- Director of Software Engineering resume
- Java Developer resume
- Software Architect resume
- Golang Developer resume
- Junior Java Developer resume
- Frond End Developer resume
- Full-Stack Developer resume
- Solutions Architect resume
- Web Designer resume
- PHP Developer resume
- NodeJS Developer resume
- Microservices resume
- Systems Analyst resume
Crafting a software engineer resume that secures interviews
Interviews play a vital role in the process of securing a software engineer job. Candidates often need to complete technical tasks and provide detailed descriptions of the projects they have worked on.
To even be considered for an interview, your resume must make a strong impression on recruiters. Read on for guidance on how to achieve this.
Selecting the optimal format for your software engineer resume
Choosing the best resume format is crucial and often specific to the industry.
For software engineers, the most common and efficient way to showcase their skills and experience is through a reverse chronological resume format. This format highlights your work experience, beginning with the most recent position.
Employ bold text and action verbs to emphasize your accomplishments and results. Include custom sections and headers in your resume to enhance scannability.
Recruiters utilize ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) to filter resumes based on relevant keywords. Tailoring your resume to the target job is essential to avoid being overlooked before a recruiter even sees your resume.
Depending on the role you're applying for, consider making your resume stand out by tapping into your creative side.
Now, let's discuss which sections you should include in your resume.
The top software engineer resume sections:
- A properly titled header with a link to your GitHub and/or portfolio website
- An experience section with a detailed story of your achievements
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
Want to skip the hard work and start from an example or template? Use our Resume Builder with all the necessary tools to make a perfect resume in under 15 minutes.
Now that we're familiar with the key sections of your software engineer resume, let's dive into writing them!
Crafting a resume header that won't perplex recruiters
Online debates have often discussed the differences between software developer and software engineer jobs.
While distinctions may exist, such as educational background, perspective, and other details, the reality is that most companies don't make a clear differentiation.
Each company has its own interpretation of the software engineer job, and you'll frequently find identical responsibilities in listings for both titles.
So, what should you do?
The answer is straightforward: select the title that the company uses in its job description.
If the company lists "Software Developer / Engineer" in their posting, choose the one that aligns more closely with your job history.
Two software engineer resume sample headers
The example above highlights a minor mistake that can have significant consequences. After providing your contact information, it's essential to include a link to your GitHub profile in your header.
At times, technical leads may directly recruit you. In such cases, they'll want to examine your code and projects as soon as possible. To facilitate this, provide a link to your GitHub profile or personal website.
Keep in mind that recruiters will likely search for your name online, and including the links will:
- Simplify their search process;
- Help control what recruiters find on the internet.
Avoid the risk of them discovering an old, underwhelming student project. First impressions carry significant weight when it comes to resumes.
In this example, the individual has chosen a specific title and included a clear link to their GitHub profile, creating a confident and straightforward impression for recruiters.
With your header in place, it's time to focus on crafting your summary.
Composing a purposeful software engineer summary section
A well-written summary section can significantly impact a software engineer's resume. It sets the tone and offers a chance to introduce yourself to prospective employers.
However, not all recruiters will read it. Many will head directly to your skills or experience section to determine whether you possess the required tech stack for the job.
If your summary is a dull, generic account of your job and past responsibilities, it may be best to omit it altogether.
While software engineering is a technical profession, it still demands a fair degree of communication skills. Your summary section is where your personality can truly stand out.
Let's examine a few examples below.
The example above has a few shortcomings:
- It employs generic statements without specific examples;
- The description is vague and not customized for a particular job.
If you've accomplished projects or tasks in the past that align with your target job, the summary is an excellent place to mention them.
Below is a software engineer resume summary that captivates the recruiter's attention by showcasing a highly convincing achievement:
What makes the above example effective:
- It incorporates examples with tangible numbers;
- It highlights an award for job-specific skills.
Another strength of this example is that it emphasizes team accomplishments under the candidate's leadership.
A common mistake made by 99% of inexperienced resume writers is to focus solely on self-promotion. Phrases like "I can...", "I work with [insert buzzword]...", and "I did..." are prevalent. However, you don't see "I drive people" on a BMW slogan; it's "Sheer Driving Pleasure."
Bad example: Expert knowledge of Python libraries
Good example: Reduced the loading time of a 10 million photo library by 68% by developing a preloading algorithm using Python's SciPy library
But what if you don't have eye-catching achievements like the one above? If you're a recent graduate or new to the field, you might not have extensive experience to showcase.
Here's a software engineer resume summary example tailored for those making a career switch:
What makes this example effective:
- It highlights transferable skills;
- It customizes their experience for the target job.
In this instance, the summary serves as a way to reframe your experience, making it more appealing to the recruiter.
One aspect we haven't mentioned is a career objective. For software engineers, this has become largely overused and is now considered outdated. Unless you're just starting in the field, you don't need a resume objective.
With your summary section in place, let's ensure your experience section tells a compelling story to every hiring manager who reads it.
Creating a compelling software engineer work experience section
Three qualities differentiate a software engineer's resume work experience section that captivates recruiters from one that gets discarded:
A results-oriented software engineer focuses on outcomes and demonstrates how past projects contributed to the success of previous employers. Recruiters seek candidates who can offer solutions to company challenges.
Consider this line in your resume: "Developed a prediction algorithm."
Really? What did this algorithm accomplish? Was it beneficial in any way?
Keep those types of questions in mind when crafting your experience section.
Let's examine the example below.
- Developed a prediction algorithm
- Used Angular framework
- Created a back-end migration solution
The example above employs the terms "developed," "used," and "created" to describe experiences, but none of these words reveal what was accomplished.
Many software engineer experience sections fall short because they are generic and uninteresting. A recruiter already knows what a software engineer does. What they don't know is what you achieved in your role.
To craft an engaging, results-focused resume template, you should not only state what you did but also what you accomplished and quantify it.
In other words, use a process - technology - accomplishment framework.
Merely stating that you "worked on a cloud-based application" doesn't convey your abilities or the extent of your contribution. Working on something doesn't necessarily mean you completed it. A completed project has outcomes.
Instead of "developed a prediction algorithm," try "reduced the loading time of a 10 million photo library by 68% by developing a preloading algorithm."
Want to make it even more convincing? Mention the tech that you used to do that. If those are mentioned in the description of a job that you’re applying for, that’s a double win.
An improved version would be, "reduced the loading time of a 10 million photo library by 68% by developing a preloading algorithm using Python's SciPy library."
Make sure not to overuse abbreviations, as it can make the resume difficult to read.
Here's an example of a results-oriented software engineer resume experience section:
- Reduced the loading time of a 10 million photo library by 68% by developing a preloading algorithm using Python’s SciPy library.
- Redesigned the rendering engine from scratch, speeding up the stock’s loading time by 600%
- Implemented an iOS search integration by developing a tool that extracts metadata from comments and captions
The improved example above contains action verbs and demonstrates tangible results. Technical skills and specific technologies are mentioned to describe the candidate's accomplishments.
When recruiters review your experience section, they construct a mental model of your career path and assess how well it aligns with the new position.
If you're making a career change, your work history might not be consistent with the job you're applying for. In this case, emphasize transferable skills to your advantage.
For instance, if you worked as a QA specialist, you likely developed unit tests and collaborated with software engineers on various projects. Enhance the relevancy of your resume by highlighting how your efforts contributed to positive development outcomes.
Below is an example of an experience section from a QA tester transitioning to software engineering:
- Collaborated with a team of software engineers to refactor the code and reduce the service loading time by 95%
- Within 2 months created a series of unit tests to ensure the main service passes all the quality benchmarks
The example above works well because:
- It mentions close collaboration with software engineers
- It describes experience with coding
- Specific outcomes are highlighted
If you need more guidance on making your work history stand out, check our blog post on how to describe your work experience.
With your experience section now cohesive, relevant, and results-oriented, let's enhance your resume further with an outstanding skills section.
There are some things recruiters expect candidates to have, but there are also things they expect candidates will NOT have. Take a look at the most common resume mistakes and make sure you’re not getting rejected because of a resume red flag.
How to address a software engineer resume skills section
When writing the skills section, technical specialists often tend to list all the platforms and programming languages they have ever worked with.
However, this might not be the best approach.
Recruiters deal with hundreds of candidates and are aware that 85% of applicants lie on their resumes.
Are you truly proficient in all the hard skills you listed?
Chances are, you're not. It's wise to prioritize which technical skills to include on your resume and which to omit.
First, avoid listing outdated or irrelevant technology that you worked with a long time ago. The industry evolves rapidly, and including something like Pascal on your resume might seem strange.
Second, don't list obvious skills like Microsoft Office or experience with Windows OS. Proficiency with these tools is expected in most industries today, especially in CS and IT.
Lastly, study the job description and the company you're applying to carefully. Prioritize the skills in your resume that the company requires.
When listing a specific technology or platform on your resume, it's a good idea to include related technologies as well. For example, with Java, you might mention J2EE, Spring, JSTL, etc.
This demonstrates that you're not just throwing buzzwords around but actually have experience with a comprehensive stack.
How to incorporate technical skills on your resume for a software engineer role
Below are some of the most popular technical skills you’ll find on a software engineer resume:
top 30 technical software engineer skills for resumes:
- SQL, SQL Server
- NoSQL, MySQL
- JSF, JSP, Spring
- jQuery, Vue, Angular, React
- CSS, HTML
- Amazon Web Services, GCP, Azure
- BigData technologies
- Visual Studio
- Interfaces, User interface
- Machine Learning
- Test Plans, Testing Frameworks
- Software Design
How to include soft skills on your software engineer resume
While technical skills take center stage on software engineer resumes, soft skills are increasingly gaining importance in the industry.
Although a significant part of your job may involve working independently, you'll still need to communicate with colleagues and collaborate effectively within a team. The industry has its share of "cowboy coders" who prefer following their own rules and struggle with accepting feedback.
Being a social butterfly isn't a requirement, but companies will want to ensure that you can thrive in a collaborative environment.
7 soft skills to put on your software engineer resume:
- Strategic Thinking
- Communication skills
- Analytical Skills
- Time Management
Even though skills like collaboration, time management, and creativity are essential for software engineer success, it's challenging to prove you possess them by merely listing them on your resume.
It's advisable to create a context for soft skills by using examples in your work experience section, if possible. Use the skills section to list technical skills and any soft skills not included elsewhere.
If you're still uncertain about crafting your skills section, our blog post on creating a resume skills section to impress recruiters provides additional guidance.
How to include projects on your resume effectively
Projects are highly recommended for graduates who may not have extensive work experience but have personal projects relevant to the job they're applying for.
Consider adding a projects section to your resume if you have major achievements outside your work that relate to the job. Examples include open-source contributions, a professorship at prestigious tech universities, or freelance work with major tech companies.
If you choose to include projects on your resume, ensure they stand out and add value without occupying too much valuable space.
Now, let's discuss how to present your education.
How to format your education section
For most job descriptions, companies will require a computer science degree or a related one, such as:
While it's possible to theoretically substitute education with extensive work experience, software engineering typically necessitates a solid technical foundation.
When documenting your education, it's recommended to exclude your GPA if it's below 3.5.
Listing relevant coursework can be crucial. For instance, if you're applying as a software engineer for a financial analytics company, any finance-related courses would create a positive impression.
Our blog post on perfecting the education section on your resume offers more guidance.
Certificates on your software engineer resume
Although certificates don't replace real work experience, they can significantly enhance your overall software engineer profile.
This is particularly true if you're a recent graduate or transitioning careers. By acquiring a few additional skills through certificates, you can increase your ATS favorability and appeal to recruiters.
Here are some industry-specific certificates to consider:
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
What are the best ways to visualize certificates on your resume? Our blog post on how to list certifications on a resume will show you how.
Other sections to include on your resume
Depending on the company, job seniority level, and your location, you may want to include more sections to your software engineer resume:
- Language skills
- Hobbies and interests
- Volunteer work
- LinkedIn on Resume
- Resume Awards
Writing a software engineer cover letter
With job application forms often containing questions like "why do you want to work here" or "explain why you're the best fit for us," it makes one wonder if cover letters are truly necessary.
While some job listings might require cover letters, if it's listed as optional, you can choose to leave it out.
However, a compelling cover letter that tells your story can sometimes give you an edge over other candidates, even though the process can be daunting.
Luckily, we've created a comprehensive guide on how to write a software engineer cover letter, complete with real industry examples.
- Add a live link to your GitHub profile in your header;
- Construct a cohesive narrative with your job experience, demonstrating your results-driven approach;
- Emphasize the technical skills in which you're proficient;
- Customize keywords and descriptions to match your target job.