10 Tips for a Software Résumé

1.) If you list “Software Engineer” as a job title, there should be examples of actual engineering listed somewhere. “Got Visual Basic working with Excel spreadsheet” does not count as software engineering…nor does that really count as programming. It’s a thin argument to even place that in the category of “software”.

2.) If you’ve worked at 7 different jobs over the past week alone, you might want to manipulate your résumé so it isn’t immediately apparent that you’ll cut out at a moment’s notice.

3.) In your list of technologies with which you are familiar, please refrain from mentioning tools which have lived long past their use or relevance. Nobody is going to be impressed that you used Windows 3.11. You might as well mention that you played a Sega Dreamcast at one point and that you’re fairly sure one of your ancient ancestors used a wheel before it became popular.

4.) If you’ve worked in the technical field for more than ten years and if you graduated much longer ago than even that, there really isn’t a need to mention the school. Plus, if you graduated in Asia and are working in the U.S., it’s completely ignored. (In the case of IT, most IT managers won’t even know the school that you’re referring to, let alone tie their shoelaces by themselves.) You could put down that you have a Master CPU degree from Kali Ma Shakti De University in Pankot, with a minor in archaeology…and nobody will be the wiser.

5.) If you want to highlight your strengths (such as your ability to work with teams and your keen meticulousness), you should present yourself in such a way as to demonstrate them. Writing “Excellent communikation skills and very talented at talking” actually works against you.

6.) By default, all of those who don the hat of a technical screener (like myself) assume that every candidate is going to naturally present himself/herself in the most positive of light. Having said that, if I see another résumé with the phrase “great team player”, I’m going to actually play baseball with a candidate’s head by introducing it to a Louisville Slugger.

7.) Since you’re supposedly a qualified worker in the technology field, your résumé should naturally be prepared with a certain amount of technical finesse. When your document is presented with an heterogeneous mix of Arial, Times New Roman, and Verdana, it doesn’t inspire confidence in potential employers when you can’t even slay the dreaded monster of Font.

8.) Please refrain from boring the living shit of the person reading your C.V. by filling it with nonsense. Since I assume that you have used a keyboard at one point as a peripheral device and that you went to a meeting where you talked to people (in order to “brainstorm”), you do not have to write those activities down. I also assume that you didn’t defecate in your pants one afternoon, using your new cargo to write your name on the lunchroom wall…but you don’t need to write that down. (To be fair, though, I would enjoy reading that if I stumbled upon it.)

9.) For software developers and engineers, one way of showing your proficiency with abstractions is to demonstrate the summarization of data. So, when you list 20 specific projects that have an overwhelming overlap in functionality, you’ve shown me that on top of not being proficient, you are likely mentally disabled. I don’t care if you have “created a back-end that supports the front-end” twenty times in different scenarios. If you list it more than once, you’re an idiot.

10.) If you claim to be a writer of technical documentation but you’ve only used three verbs throughout your entire résumé (and I’m betting that those words are ‘developed’, ‘designed’, and ‘analyzed’), then you probably have a better chance of impressing me with illustrations drawn in pen and crayon. Remove that part about writing good technical documentation, and we’ll accept your possible employment with the footnote that you’re an illiterate simpleton.

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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