Résumé tips for software developers and engineers, and everyone else too
I have been told multiple times that I have a great résumé. A company that has a job board that focuses on startups once said that I had the best résumé they had ever seen. Take that for what you will.
For what it’s worth: I think my résumé is good.
My résumé isn’t great because I have outstanding technical achievements. I haven’t worked for FAANG companies. I haven’t made significant contributions to open-source. I haven’t founded a billion-dollar company. I’m just me.
I’m just me, and I put me on my résumé, and I speak to the person who is reading it.
The format doesn’t really matter. I do the following:
┌─────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────┐ │ │ │ │ │ Name │ │ │ │ Some witty tagline │ │ │ │ │ ├───────────────────────┬─────────────────────────────────────────┤ │ │ │ │ Keywords │ About me │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ ├─────────────────────────────────────────┤ │ │ │ │ │ Experience │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ ├───────────────────────┤ │ │ │ │ │ Fun facts │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ ├───────────────────────┼─────────────────────────────────────────┤ │ │ │ │ Links │ Projects │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ │ └───────────────────────┴─────────────────────────────────────────┘
These are boring things that I do well. I list languages, frameworks, and tools.
Yes, I list fun facts on my résumé! Characteristics, skills, fun facts. Some of these are serious (“Performance nerd”), some are sentimental (“Will always say hi to mom”), and some are kind of uncanny (“Once bought a boat sight-unseen”).
I’ll put my GitHub and Blog here. And, beneath it, I will in light text put “hi mom” because I will always say hi to mom.
A place to brag about myself I brag about myself. I say things like “I’m a serial founder, self-taught business-minded manager of one” and “I have a track record of taking ideas from inception and scaling them”. I put a dig, against myself: “I stuck a fork in a light socket three times” but make it relevant “because I was curious, and as an adult, I stick my nose in people’s businesses to find inefficiencies and opportunities to maximize revenue and scalability”
When I describe my work experience, I try to use numbers whenever I can. Numbers are more convincing than words.
- Worked on ticketing software
- Optimized ticketing software for agents to improve throughput
- Re-architected agent workflows and improved time-to-close by 3x, saving company $15,000 per agent per year
- The goal of your résumé is to get to the screener call. It is not to sell the screener that you’re a great fit for the position
- You need to stand out to the screener
- Be yourself, show personality, but don’t disclose that you’re a serial killer OR a crazy cat person
- Screeners know buzzwords and ranges and things to look for; they don’t know how to evaluate a person’s experience
- Showing personality will get you into the “I gotta talk to this person!” more than your technical achievements
- Companies will publicly post requirements to weed out shitty candidates and give them an excuse to not talk to the developer of 1 year from a company they can’t pronounce. That doesn’t mean you’re a shitty candidate
- If you know you don’t meaningly qualify for a position, that doesn’t mean you can’t try. Find the decision maker (or closest person to) and send them your résumé with a very personalized note: “Hi DecisionMaker9000, I saw your company’s job opening for $position. I wanted to send my résumé to you directly with hopes that you’ll see it — plus, I’ll be working for you anyway, right? I know I’m not as qualified as some other candidates, but what I lack in real-world experience I make up for with $important-skill. Can you get this to the right person?”
- Be yourself in your résumé, unless you’re a shitty person. If you’re a shitty person then this entire post doesn’t apply to you
- Your résumé should reflect who you are, and who they might want to work with. If you’re a boring-ass person then it doesn’t matter because they’ll filter you out during screening
- If you submit your résumé and don’t hear back within 5 business days, send a polite hello with a message that makes the person go “wow, I really need to respond to this person, they seem like a great human!”
- Aaron got a job moonlighting as tenderlovemaking. Granted, he’s not creepy and everyone knows it’s not who he is; it’s irony
- What I mean is, don’t be boring
- High-ranking accomplishments carry a lot of weight; if you’re a professional DOTA2 player, that matters a whole lot more than the Hello World application you wrote in 15 different languages. If you’re in the top 1% of anything — and it’s a learned skill — put it down and put focus on it because it shows that you have the ability to work hard and learn. Does not apply to physical attributes
- Remember that the screener has to sift through HUNDREDS of boring, plain, vanilla résumés. If you had to sift through hundreds of boring, vanilla potential dates, you’d pick the one with spunk. Be spunky
- If you have something in production, mention it!
- Open-source is cool but less important than you think: people who have to take Timmy to soccer practice after school does not have time for open-source, and that’s okay. For juniors and mid-level, it’s nice to see some code before the investment of time in interviews
- The screener is to make sure you’re not an awful culture fit, that you can communicate effectively, that you’d be worth spending time with, that you didn’t completely bullshit your résumé, and that you’re not a serial killer
- If you are a pain in the ass to work with, don’t communicate well, aren’t a good culture fit (humorless, ego-driven asshole), are a serial killer, this entire post doesn’t apply to you
- LeetCode doesn’t fucking matter
- Once more: LeetCode doesn’t fucking matter. Unless it’s like one of twenty companies. This isn’t the post you should be reading then because it doesn’t apply to them. I wouldn’t work for them so I don’t apply to them
- Be positive, remember to smile when you’re talking to people, and remember to smile when you’re emailing people and writing — yes, it translates
- If you suck as a person, none of this applies to you