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Proven Tips For Writing A Job-Winning Resume For Programmers

Most of the candidates fail to get interview calls as their resume does not stand out of crowd. This blog post will clearly explain to you how to write a creative and job-winning entry level resume for programmers. The exact way to write the word – resume – is – résumé – and for ease in writing, I have used resume everywhere in this blog post.

Let Us Start – How To Create A Job-Winning Resume For Programmers

Resume For Programmers


Every job search begins with creating a resume. That’s the start. And it is very important to get a great start. But, here is where most of them go wrong – Candidates end up creating a not-so-attractive or not-so-interesting resume. If the start is not great, how can we expect a great ending of Getting Awesome Job Offers? Think deeply! You are not the only candidate who is searching for a programming job. Like yourself, there are thousands of programmers across the globe who are applying for the same programming job in the same company at the same time. The biggest hurdle that resume screeners ( or HRs ) face is selecting the best resume. How much ever strong you are with your technical skills, if your resume is not attractive enough, it would be lost in the crowd. Hence it is now time for you to create your attractive Job-Winning resume for programmers.

I know, how intimidating it is for anyone who wants to create a wonderful resume. It is very difficult to figure out what and what-not to be added to the resume. But, trust me, spending 3 hrs per day for a span of 3 days in creating your resume is worth the effort. In this article, I have given you tips to create a Job-Winning resume for programmers.

Creating a really good resume takes time. In fact, I consider creating an attractive resume is really as an art. You need to get more and more creative at it.  A good resume clearly highlights and deeply expresses a candidate’s relevant skill set. It must present the candidate in the best possible light because, after all, it is one’s first chance to persuade or impress the interviewer that he/she is the best candidate for the job role. My tips for creating a Job-Winning resume is given below:

1.Do not copy-paste other programmer’s resume

One of the biggest blunders that most of the fresh graduates commit while creating their resume is to copy-paste the contents of other’s resume. Most of them get into this copy-paste work, just because of the feeling that, creating a resume is an intimidating task. A resume is a tool to describe yourself to the recruiters. A resume is a mirror image of your own skill set. What is the point in you duplicating others resume as yours? Copying others resume might help you avoid doing a lot of thinking activity, but will definitely never help you in clearing a programming interview. Firstly, you copying other’s resume indicates that you are lazy to think about yourself. Secondly, copying other’s resume indicates you get along with the crowd. In other words, it says, you have no skill set better than others. Understand, hunting for a programming job is a competition. You got to be very competitive and should always try to make your resume as attractive as possible compared to your competitors. Though copying a good resume format is acceptable, but never the contents.

2.Be crystal clear with your objective

Do not hurry in creating a resume by typing. Think!  You are creating a tool that will fetch you your dream job. It has to be done with care and creativity. Creativity is a result of clarity. And clarity is a result of refined thinking. The first step in creating a Job-Winning resume is to be very clear with your objective. Starting to create a resume without clear objectives, right directions and a proper plan of action is like starting out on a road trip with no idea where you’re going or how to get there. You will waste a lot of fuel, time and effort. Therefore, to clear with your objective of creating a resume, ask yourself specific questions like, “In which programming language would I like to work? “, “What kind of technologies should I be targeting ?”, “Should I be looking for an internship or Should I work full-time ?”, “Should I focus on start-ups or MNCs”  etc. Try asking more questions to yourself about what your end goal is. This will give you a lot of clarity on how your resume should look like. Being clear about your objective increases the chances of your resume getting landed in the hands of a potential recruiter.

3.Understand what resume screeners look at in your resume

Having a clear objective is the first step. The next step is to understand the resume screeners mentality. Resume screeners are those who will initially procure the resumes from several sources like job portals, consultancies etc., filter the right resumes and hand it over to the technical team (Interviewers) for their approval. If we could understand what resume screeners are looking for in our resume, then, it would be easy for us to tailor our resume according to that and make its way to the technical team.

Resume screeners look for those things that the interviewers have asked them to look for in a candidate’s resume. That is the only job of resume screeners.  If the resume screeners are looking out for a programmer, then, the two things that they would look out for in a resume for programmers are :

  1. To know if the candidate is good at problem-solving
  2. To know if the candidate has good command for a programming language

If you understand this fact, then, you can tailor your resume to present these two things perfectly. Understand the fact, that, your love for cricket, food, cars etc. would not be relevant to the resume screener as it has nothing to do with programming. It would rather be wasting a lot of white space on the resume. Avoid clogging your resume with such unnecessary stuff. Also, it is important for you to understand that the average time taken by a resume screener to screen your resume would be approximate of 30 seconds. So, you got to keep your resume crisp, impressive, to the point and keep only the relevant things that you feel is necessary for your job role. By doing this, chances are very high that your resume will jump out to the interviewers.

4. Projects are the heart of a programmer’s resume

Projects are the heart of your resume. Relevant projects are the reason which makes your resume stand out of the crowd. Projects are the proof of your technical skills. Projects on your resume show your inclination towards practicals. Projects also show how passionate you are. Recruiters are always on the lookout for candidates who are more practical rather theoretical. With my experience of interviewing candidates, I have understood that only 10% of the total candidates show an inclination towards practical applications of their technical skills. And it is those few candidates out of 10% who will finally clear the interview.

I would suggest you have your academic projects inclined with your technical skills mentioned on the resume. If C/C++ is highlighted in your list of technical skills and having a project on Java is so contradicting. Such resumes never make it to the technical team. So, be careful.

To beat the competition, you got to do something different from the others. Having an academic project on your resume is good. It only shows that you have done your project as part of your university curriculum. I would strongly recommend you to go one step beyond and complete a project outside of your curriculum which only extra-ordinary candidates do. They do because they are passionate about it. They love it. Engineers and Programmers are very passionate breed. And tech companies are always looking out for such breeds. This is what keeps your resume stand tall compared to the rest.

5.Be clear and concise about your technical skills

Remember what I told you earlier? – resume screeners approximately spend 30 seconds to look into your resume. Do not confuse them. Be clear and concise about your technical skills. Get them what they want quickly up front. Let them get the exact picture of your skill set in less than 30 seconds.

As a fresh graduate, you might tend to fill your programming skills section with all the programming languages you have learned during your university days. This is a bad practice. It’s known fact that a person cannot master all the programming languages. And the interviewers are not looking for a “Jack of all and master of none”, rather they are looking for candidates who are proficient in one or two programming languages. So be clear about what you know proficiently. If you are really good at one or two programming languages, highlighting only those is a good idea. Also, make sure, your project work matches with your technical skills. I have told you about this in the previous section.

Sometimes, it so happens that, you are proficient in one or two programming language but you wish to highlight those programming languages about which you have a fair working idea. In these situations, I would suggest you indicate the proficiency level next to your skills. The incorrect and correct format is given below.

InCorrect Format:

Programming Languages: C, C++, Java 

This format does not highlight your core skills. A format that is bound to get tossed.

Correct Format:

Programming Languages: Java ( Proficient )

                                                  C++ ( Beginner )

                                                  C      ( Beginner )

The same thing goes with your others skills too. 

Another recommendation is to avoid writing “Microsoft Office Package” as your skills. This does not create any impact on the interviewer as it is not considered as a special and unique skill. In today’s world, even a school going kid would also manage Microsoft Office Package well. Adding this to your resume will only waste useful white space and makes your resume look lengthier. Keep in mind – Let your resume be crisp, clear and concise.

Apart from the Programming Languages, listing few developer-centric tools like Eclipse, Netbeans, GitHub, Valgrind,  Rational Clear Case etc. would definitely be an added advantage. As a fresher, it is rare candidates even knowing about these tools. Here comes the advantage. To make your resume stand tall from the rest of your competitors, learn these skills and add it to your resume.

6. Show result-oriented project accomplishments along with measurable results

I have seen a lot of resumes in which their project contribution reads out as

I have contributed to the development of the website

These words do not specify clearly as to what has the candidate contributed. These kind of resumes are up for a toss – Does not make it to the interviewer’s table. Have you been on a team to complete your project?  Then, specify clearly what contribution did you make to the project and what was the result? Let the resume do the talking. For example, the above statement can be re-written as

I have contributed to the website-making by creating an attractive landing page which could capture customer details at the back-end.

This line proves you have contributed to the project which is result-oriented accomplishments. But, there is a lack of clarity in the previous statement. Because it does not show measurable results. Therefore, you can re-write the above statement as

I have contributed to the website-making by creating an attractive landing page which could capture customer details at the back-end. The load-time of the landing page is 30% faster than the commercial ready-made landing pages sold by several companies, thus increasing the conversion rate by 40% compared to others”.

A programmer’s resume with such clarity in contributions has higher chances of getting selected for an interview.

7. Be Specific, Well Structured and Clear

Have you ever experienced anytime looking for specific information on the internet and just backed away from a website just because the website confused you with loads of information that is unnecessary at that point in time? For example, You google for “Quick tips to lose weight” and clicked on one of the google search results. The link that you clicked had information about losing weight but, had given a lot of other information on types of food, its nutrients, its results etc. and etc. without directly giving you the quick tips that you needed. Of course, the information would be useful, but not needed at that point in time. I wanted a fair idea of how to lose weight and the website that I visited failed in giving me first-hand information. What we normally do is – back away from it!

  The same thing happens if your resume is not specific and not well structured – It gets tossed! Do not clog your resume with unwanted information. I have repeatedly mentioned in this article before that, the resume screeners spend only 30 seconds looking out for a potential resume and it is our need to structure it appropriately, to get the resume screener straight at what he/she is looking at.

I have seen resumes that have the complete addresses of their university/college / Schools in the education section which is an utter waste of valuable space. Some people go in length to explain about their hobbies and extra-curricular activities which I would recommend you to avoid. I have also encountered resumes which glorify their family history – Have the names of their entire family and their relationship with the candidate. All these unwanted information will only add up to confusion.

To make sure if your resume is up to the point, I would suggest you create your resume and give it to your friend. Ask him/her – what is the first-hand impression that he gets about you when he sees the resume for 30 seconds. That is what describes you better. Read every line of the resume to make sure, it is matching with what the resume screener is looking out for. Though it might initially look like a herculean task, it is worth doing this exercise. 

If you have anything specific to highlight, then keep them in bold. For example, if you are from a  premier engineering college highlight the college name. If you have a very good CGPA, highlight it. If you have an internship with a top company like say Intel, Cisco, Google, Facebook etc. highlight those company names. Brand speaks a lot. Also, I would recommend highlighting industry-recognized certifications like, say, OCAJP, OCPJP for Java etc. It highlights your expertise in the area of your choice. Making such minute changes makes your resume stand tall among others.

The funniest part of the resume is the “Objective” section. I have come across loads of resumes whose objectives look like the verses in the Bible. I will give you an example of how an object could go wrong. Check the below objective, 

“To work with a reputed IT organization that recognizes my true potential to the fullest and provides me ample avenues for professional growth through nurturing my technical skills and competencies

The above objective does not convey anything about the candidate to the resume screener. Read it once again and you will admit that, it has no clarity at all. An example of a crisp and clear objective in a programmer’s resume is shown below.

A fresh engineering graduate with good problem-solving skills looking out for an opportunity as a Java programmer in your organization

This objective certainly has a lot of clarity compared to the previous one and has higher chances to get selected for an interview.

8. Show the go-getter attitude through Awards & Honours

Awards & Honours are definitely great eye-catchers. Awards indicate the candidate’s go-getter attitude and love towards competition. As a natural human tendency, we tend to respect people with achievements / Awards / Honours. Same goes for resume screeners too. List those awards that are related to your education or expertise. For examples,

Received Dr.B.R.Ambedkar award for the outstanding performance throughout academics

Received a cash prize of INR 25,000/- after winning an inter-collegiate programming contest called CodersHunt

Received Google Award for the best programmer in the Hackathon contest held in the year 2016

All these awards mentioned above are great indications of your area of expertise. I am against you mentioning about prizes that you received during your school/college days for winning a painting competition, essay writing competition, Kabbaddi completion, Lemon Spoon race etc. Though it’s nice to know you have won prizes for all these, it does not add any value to the job profile that you are applying to.

A big advice to people who have not received any awards – “Do not Fake Awards/Honours”. Rather try to participate in competitions and genuinely try for Awards/Honours.

9. Do not ignore the look and feel of your resume

Though this is the 9th point in my article, look and feel of the resume is the first thing that impresses any resume screener. Here are few tips to improve the look and feel of your resume.

  1. Do not make grammatical mistakes. Make sure you check your resume for grammatical correctness. If not, you are considered having a poor communication skill.
  2. Do not make a typographical error. It shows you are too lazy to correct your typos when your document’s spelling checker marks a red line for a misspelled word.
  3. Use fonts that are nice for the eyes to read. My personal choice for a resume would be “Palatino” font, though many other recruiters love to see “Times New Roman” as your resume font. You can take a call on this.
  4. Do not fill your resume with large texts. No one likes reading large text. Be to the point. Use bullets where necessary. Be crisp and clear.
  5. Give enough white space wherever necessary. This is one way to improve the look and feel of your resume.

10. Let your resume speak about your Blogging Skills

Professional Programmers are those who share their expertise through blog writing. You can write blog posts on a new way of solving a complex problem. Write about new emerging technologies. Blogging is one of the finest ways to gain a wide range of audience. If someone visits your blog and sees the insights that you have shared on a particular subject, it would be clear to them that you are genuinely an expert on that subject. Being considered an expert on a particular subject can get you career recognition and awards.

Its not just about blogging, market it on your resume. Bloggers always have high chances of getting a job offer compared to others. Trust me, as an interviewer, I love working with great bloggers. Are you the one?

Thanks for reading my blog post on how to write a resume for programmers. Hope you enjoyed my writing and also hope it was quite informative. If you found it useful, please do share the article. All the very best for your Job-Winning resume creation.

Further Reading:

  1. [How To Become A Software Developer Without A Degree]
  2. [Step-by-Step Guide To Get A Software Job In IT Industry ]


About Subhash K U

Subhash K U
Subhash.K.U is India’s leading Business Explorer and highest paid Business Strategist. He is famously known for his business blog BusyMonk.com. He helps aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners to take their businesses to the next level through strategic business programs that he conducts throughout the world. He loves speaking to business owners to learn and understand their successful business models and strategies as he strongly feels that there is no single fixed formula for every kind of business.

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One comment

  1. Great sir, once again i have to say, this info is life saver…for me thanks…

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