When applying for jobs, your resume acts as an overview of your skills and what you can contribute to a new position.
There are many ways to approach building your resume and various hiring managers will have different preferences. These tips come from our global community in the United States and Germany. Different industries and countries can have distinct best-practices. Connect with the Women Who Code community on slack and at network events for more regional and industry specific tips!
Strategic Structure - Keep It Short!
Start your resume by writing down every detail about every position you’ve held. Focus on skills and achievements at each position. Depending on the length of time you’ve spent in the workforce, your resume could be 2 or more pages! Once you’ve created a list, create a new copy and cut non-relevant information. At Women Who Code events, hiring managers and recruiters have shared that they spend an average of 90 seconds per resume to scan for important information and make the decision to advance to a phone screen.
Prinyciya Sequiera, Engineering Manager and former Leadership Fellow for Front End, recommends that you “think about how things in newspapers and magazines are highlighted.” Consider the headlines of your career and look for redundant or repeated information. Include information that you want to be asked about and that you are confident discussing.
What information belongs on the front page? For example, if you are applying for your first tech job, you may want to keep tech-related education at the top of your resume and non-related education in a different section.
Avoid blocks of text. Think about how many resumes the recruiter or manager will be looking for and try to make the user-experience of your resume as seamless as possible.
Next, reflect on the specific position you are applying for. If a detail on your resume does not directly relate to this professional opportunity, delete it from this version but keep it handy for a different position.
Craft Your Resume for the Job You Want
If you are struggling to choose which skills to highlight, Katie McIntyre, Career Coach, recommended in her talk “How to Build the Perfect Resume and LinkedIn Profile,” to
research at least 20 job descriptions to look for common skills and keywords. When you review your resume, identify areas that don’t speak directly to these shared qualifications.
You can also review the language in your resume to see if there are any extra words. “Ask yourself the hard question: is this a skill or a metric or am I including fluff words without meaning?” shared Katie. Make sure your words relate directly to metrics and outcomes. For example, rather than describing an environment as just “fast-paced,” describe a successful project that you had to complete on a short timeline.
The Magic of Keywords
Because of the volume of resumes and applications, many recruiters need to use software to filter resumes before they begin their review. This is where keywords are absolutely essential. In “How to Craft a Killer Software Engineer Resume,” Mollie Eisler, Career Consultant, shared that you can learn about different keywords directly from the job posting, by talking to the community and through informational interviews with hiring managers in the industry. “Recruiters use software to filter through everything they received so if your resume doesn’t have the keywords it wont come up in search results,” shared Mollie. Examples of keywords include the position title and then different nouns that are directly in the job posting.
In addition to including the keywords in descriptions of previous responsibilities you can also include keywords by naming your resume with the job title and including a summary of qualifications at the top of your resume. Also use keywords as headers in your resume under your previous positions. As an exercise, consider the job posting below. Which keywords could you use to highlight in your resume? What would you title your resume?
Job Posting: Senior Backend Engineer
Experience utilizing PHP in a recent professional environment (7.4+ and Symfony), or Ruby on Rails or Python
Minimum of 7 years of experience with distributed systems across multiple systems and teams
Solving exciting and challenging distributed systems problems to ensure our systems can serve billions of API requests
Develop backend systems that enhance and accelerate our partner integrations
Fluent in engineering best practices such as testability and object-oriented design.
Here is one way you could name your resume and produce a summary of your qualifications:
Resume Title: First Name Last Name.Senior Backend Engineer
Summary of qualifications: Backend Engineer with 8 years of experience building and developing distributed systems using PHP, Ruby on Rails and Python
Get Feedback and Apply for Jobs!
Hiring managers and recruiters are individuals and have their own practices, preferences and strategies to build their teams. This is why getting a variety of feedback, attending community events and connecting within your community is so important. Gather ideas and look for common threads. You will be able to identify what is best for the kind of position you are looking for.
Another resource is the Women Who Code job board. Use the Women Who Code job board to research new positions, learn about keywords and apply today!