Whether you've decided to go to a coding bootcamp or learn web development on your own, many of us learn to program so we can get a new job. However, before you can get an interview, you have to dust off and polish your resume to send to recruiters. If you've never written a resume for a software engineering or developer position, writing your new resume may seem daunting. What sections do you need? Should you include your past work experiences? What items do you want to highlight so recruiters will notice you?
All of these questions are important but hard to answer if you don't know what you're doing. To ease the stress of job hunting, I'm going to give you the key parts that you need to include on your resume to get your first job as a software engineer or web developer.
My First Software Engineering Resume
When I graduated from App Academy, I had a bunch of resume examples from past students to base my own resume on. I also had a career coach to help me polish my resume. After a bunch of rounds of back and fourth, agonizing of wording, font sizes, margins, etc., this is what my resume looked like:
This resume landed me my first software job at Teachable as a fullstack developer, and the format has served me well over the years. Even on my updated version of my resume for senior level positions, I still keep the same sections: skills, experience, and projects.
Frontend, Backend, or Fullstack
Before you start writing your sections, you need to ask yourself, "What type of software position do I want?". Are you looking for a frontend, backend, or fullstack position? If you don't know what the difference between frontend, backend, or fullstack positions are, check out this blog post on the Different Parts of a Web Application. These three positions are also not the only software positions out there. Other software positions include mobile app development, dev ops, security, etc.
It's important to know what type of position you want. This will allow you to tailor your sections to the specific skills required for each position. The example resume that I've shown above is for any fullstack position that I applied to because it demonstrates both frontend and backend skills.
Whether I'm applying for a junior or more senior position, I alway include a skills section on my resume. Recruiters use the skills section to filter out resumes and find candidates with the skills that they are looking for. So, the section can be extremely useful for catching a recruiter's eye.
The skills section doesn't need to be extremely long. It just needs to list out the languages, frameworks, and tools that you are familiar with. If you include a skill in your skills section, be prepared to explain how you use it. Never lie and add skills that you aren't familiar with to your resume. It may come back to bite you.
The projects section of your resume will be the meat and potatoes of your resume. If you don't have any coding experience at a company or in a work capacity, then I recommend putting the projects section before your work experience section. The main reason for this is because recruiters want to know that you can code, and if you don't have any experience coding in a professional capacity, then your projects will be how you demonstrate your coding skills.
Similar to the skills section, you want to tailor your projects to the type of role that you're looking for. If you're looking for a frontend role, highlight projects or frontend aspects of a project that you worked on. This can include bullet points like:
- Used bootstrap to create and style mobile responsive webpages
- Reduced the number of API calls to the backend and quickly provided user feedback on sign up, login, and checkout forms by validating user input on the frontend before submitting forms
- Created assessable web pages for visually impaired users using labels, providing alt text for all images and videos, writing descriptive anchor text for links, and ensuring all pages are easy to tab through
For the backend, you want to highlight accomplishments from your projects that display your skills on the backend. Some examples of these items can be:
- Increased API speed and reduced queries to database by caching heavily used data in Redis
- Encrypted users' passwords using BCrypt before storing them in database to increase security of sensitive information
- Utilized Restful API conventions to create easy to read code
If you want to tailor your resume to a fullstack position, mix and match bullet points that relate to your frontend and backend skills.
This section is like most other work experience sections for your resume. This is where you will highlight your work experience that will pertain to your future job as a developer or software engineer. If you don't have any previous coding experience, not a problem. Contrary to popular belief, being a software engineer requires more skills than just writing code. Some good soft skills to highlight in this section that don't pertain to writing code include:
- Giving feedback to coworkers
- Training/mentoring junior employees
- Planning and/or managing projects
- Collaborating with teammates
- Working under tight deadlines
Each one of these soft skills are just as necessary as being able to write code when working as a software engineer.
Regardless of whether you have a CS degree or not, I always include my degree on my resume. If you went to a programming bootcamp, feel free to add it to the education section. It can provide you a good intro into how you got into programming.
When creating your resume, many new engineers do not think about the "extra" items that are expected to be seen on your resume or needed when filling out applications. These items include:
- A portfolio site
- Github account
- LinkedIn account
If you're wondering if you really need a portfolio site, the answer is yes. This is one of the extra items I am asked for the most when applying for new positions. I always see a section for the link to my portfolio website on job applications.
Your portfolio site doesn't have to be complicated. You can even make it with just some HTML and CSS and host it on GitHub for free. All your portfolio site needs to do is show off who you are as an engineer. You can have an about section, some skills listed, and a couple of projects you created.
Having a GitHub account is another absolute must. A Github account allows you to easily share code that you've worked on with potential employers. If you have projects that are public on your portfolio site, add your GitHub link to the project. This gives potential employers a chance to check out your code.
A link to my LinkedIn is another common item I'm asked for on job applications. Therefore, make sure you have one, and that it is up to date.
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This article was written as part of the Coding Bootcamp Prep course. The course is dedicated to providing people of all skill levels the knowledge they need to get admitted to learn to program.