Writing an Ideal Resume

You should put a lot of effort into writing your resume. There are a lot of components to a good resume, and many people in the software industry fail at writing an ideal resume. And unfortunately that means that your likelihood of getting through the initial interviewing stages is reduced. Your resume is your elevator pitch! If you were to try to sell yourself in-person, would you not bother optimizing your pitch? Your resume is your pitch, so do your best to make it the most impactful that you can. Otherwise you’re only hurting your own chances for success.

Empathy is Key to an Ideal Resume

What many people fail to consider is applying empathy to writing your resume. This document isn’t for you. Your resume is for your reader, and you absolutely want them to find it engaging and interesting. They person analyzing your resume is the gatekeeper to you moving onto to talking to someone.

And also remember, that you’re applying for a job at a business. The primary objective of most businesses is to make money. And you’re a part of that process. So you have to think about what a business would look for in hiring an engineer. Always remember, your salary has to be paid somehow. So your most important asset is the value you create.

So you need to stop and consider for a moment.

  • What would make them want to stop and read my resume more thoroughly?
  • What information are they looking for?
  • How can I get their attention quickly?
  • How can I showcase my talent, and successes?
  • How can I make myself standout from the other candidates?

If you apply empathy to writing your resume, then you’ll approach your resume different. And it’s more likely that you’ll have more success with it.

Components to Focus On

There are key components to writing a good resume once you start thinking with empathy in mind. Once you realize what the person is looking for, it will shape how you write your resume.

First, your intro should say something unique about you. If you were in a room with one hundred other engineers and you all had to introduce yourself, how would you be memorable? Write your introduction with that in mind. Everyone is driven, passionate, etc. What makes you truly unique?

Next should come your experience. This is most applicable if you already have working experience. Your work experience needs to highlight not only what you did, but it needs to show you understand the value and impact of what you’ve done too.

Follow the STAR method. For each line item in your resume, communicate the situation you were in to convey context. Showing you understand the context of your work is a valuable skill, as it shows you look beyond your individual contributions. Follow that with the task itself of which you were assigned to do. Then detail the actions you took to accomplish them. Finally, and importantly, wrap up with highlighting the results, and the impact, of your work. That shows you understand your value and what you bring to the table.

Go through all of that for all of your work experience, while also balancing not writing a novel because no one will read a three or longer page resume.

Your next component should be an easily legible list of your skills. And don’t add modifiers to your list like “expert”. It may sound good to you, but statistics show it does more harm than good. Just list your skills out in a succinct manner. Let your interviewing skills, and your work experience, show how good you are.

Finally wrap up your resume with your education, certifications, and more. And if you have any links to websites, like your portfolio, Github, etc. make sure you put the URL or your handle. Don’t assume someone will have a digital copy of your resume.

Tailor you Resume to the Job

The last and arguably one of the most important aspects to writing an ideal and effective resume is to tailor your resume to the job that you’re applying to. If you just write one resume, and you blast that to every job opportunity you see, and you’re applying to jobs with different languages used, and different industries, then your chances of getting into next phase is going to be reduced even more.

As a person who’s reviewed and analyzed hundreds of resumes, it’s really easy to tell who didn’t bother doing this. And most of the time they’re simply tossed to the reject pile. You don’t need to customize your resume for every application, but at least have a handful for specific industries, job requirements, etc.

Following these principles will help you find success in getting through the initial screening stage in the process of finding a new job.