How to Craft a Compelling Software Engineer Resume

IEEE Computer Society Team
Published 02/21/2023
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Writing a compelling software engineer resumeWith the variety and volume of software engineers on the market, you need to create a resume that helps you stand out from the crowd. But as you describe your qualifications and experience, it can be easy to drown your most impressive skills in an unoriginal alphabet soup of acronyms and applications. Here’s how to ensure your software engineer resume presents you in the best possible light, no matter how much experience you have.


Research the Company and Position, Then Emphasize the Skills They Want to See

By researching the skills the position requires, then emphasizing them on your resume, you essentially hand-deliver the hiring manager exactly what they want. In many cases, the job requirements, such as those for a project management position, may be right there in the listing. But if they’re not, you have a few choices as you do your research:

  • Call up the company and ask the hiring manager what specific skills they’re looking for.
  • Check out some projects the company has had a hand in and figure out which languages or frameworks were used in those projects.
  • Scour the company’s website in search of the languages, frameworks, or methodologies they use. Many will discuss them openly in their About Us section, project portfolio, or case studies.

You can then leverage this intel to choose which of your skills you want to highlight on your resume. For example, maybe you love SQL and have a ton of experience building databases with it. And even though you have some knowledge of JavaScript, it’s not necessarily your strong suit. But as you research the company, you discover that they do a lot with JavaScript.

It would be a good idea to mention JavaScript multiple times on your resume. For the sake of transparency, you wouldn’t want to overinflate your JavaScript prowess, but mentioning it multiple times can make your resume pop for anyone reading it, including automated resume readers.


Highlight Your Strongest Features at the Top of Your Resume

By highlighting your best features at the top of your resume, you’re more likely to grab the interest of a hiring manager. So you want to jot down the elements of your experience or skills that best qualify you for the position and put them on your resume.

For example, if you don’t have a lot of experience, you may not have a list of impressive companies you’ve worked for. So you wouldn’t want to put the “Work Experience” category first. On the other hand, you may have created some interesting apps, worked with others on an important project or even created something on the side in your spare time that showcases your abilities.

If so, you can simply name that section “Experience” and describe what you’ve done. You’ll want to give each subsection an attention-grabbing title, as well.

For example, suppose you programmed an automated inventory system for your uncle, who owns a hardware store. The subtitle for that could be something to the effect of “Engineer and Project Manager for Automated Inventory System.”



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Use Verbs That Showcase Soft Skills

Even though listing soft skills can feel awkward, you can convey them by using certain verbs. Soft skills refer to those that may not involve technical knowledge yet still make a big difference in project management and other positions, such as leadership, communication, empathy, listening, teamwork, and so on.

By using specific verbs to describe what you’ve done, you can shine a light on some of your less tangible yet crucial abilities. They can be either single words or phrases. Some may include:

  • Teamed up with
  • Collaborated on/with
  • Led a team of
  • Problem-solved
  • Engineered, reverse-engineered, or re-engineered
  • Discovered
  • Reimagined

Another helpful term that puts a nice polish on your portfolio of soft skills is “learned.” You can use this when talking about a new language, application, workflow, or protocol you had to learn to succeed at a task.

For example, you can say, “Learned the basics of React to help the front-end design team build a new user interface for….”

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