More Tips for a Software Résumé



The previous list is here.

1.) List your previous jobs and/or projects in descending chronological order. By not doing so, I’m going to assume that you’re a disorganized mess, even if you do have an actual time machine and even if you were employed in randomly scattered decades alongside Doc Brown.

2.) Spelling is an indication of being meticulous, and it leaves such an impression of you on the interviewer. Plus, it purges all ambiguities from the record. For example, if you list yourself as an advocate of “open sores”, you might waste a few minutes of my time, as I attempt to find my hazmat suit in preparation for meeting your skanky ass.

3.) When you want to convey your skills and familiarity with software and languages, you should briefly describe how you used them to achieve a goal or complete a project. In other words, it’s not convincing if you simply mention a project and then list the used components (i.e., “Ecommerce Project – Java, Servlets, JSP, Agile/SCRUM, Design Patterns, EJB, JDBC, XML/XSL, JQuery”). I’ve never seen a recipe for a dessert which read something like “Soufflé Project – Cream, Air, Ramekan, Eggs, Heat, Sugar, Gravity”. As it turns out, there are a few more details which are needed in order to paint the whole picture.

4.) It’s better to leave out the mention of any vendor-provided classes regarding technology. We both know that you could have learned everything necessary from provided documentation and simple Internet access (especially from StackOverflow). It was simply an opportunity to get out of work for a week, and if you were lucky, you got to stay at a hotel on the company’s dime. We can all agree on one thing: nothing tastes better than free.

5.) If you have used a software package or an IDE, you can simply list it once, and I will assume that you’re familiar with the latest (or penultimate) edition. If you insist on doing otherwise (i.e., “Eclipse Galileo, Eclipse Indigo, Eclipse Kepler”), I will require that you write an essay explaining the difference between all of them. And you will have to write it in calligraphy.

6.) When applying for a particular position, it’s in your best interest to convince me that you have a skillset which is a perfect match for that position. If I’m looking to hire a C# applications programmer, the majority of your résumé should probably mention experience with programming applications in C#. On the other side of that same coin, you should not attempt to tell me about being able to develop Android applications, being able to mod the graphics algorithms of the Source game engine, or being able to solder circuit boards blindfolded. More than likely, I will not believe anything you wrote, but more importantly, nor will I care.

7.) Don’t be longwinded in your résumé in an attempt to score points. Being verbose does not make you appear more knowledgeable. For example, telling me that “you have written in the Java application programming language for a JVM” and that “you have used MSSQL as a database platform for enterprise data” just makes me think that you love to hear yourself talk. It’s not that I don’t understand, though. Empathetically, I also love to hear myself talk…but I’m also polite enough to censor myself, since I’m aware that nobody else cares to hear it. My fiancée is especially appreciative of that.

8.) Similar to the previous item, don’t pad your CV in order to look more impressive. It has, in fact, the opposite effect. It’s perfectly fine to mention a few things that you’re familiar with…but be reasonable. When you start to list every imported package which you’ve used in your Java code, I will begin to see red and insist on making papercuts between your fingers until you cry for mercy.

Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.

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