Making Your Resume Stand Out to a Hiring Manager
Aug 02, 2021 | By Dylan Caldwell
Polishing your software engineering resume or creating one for the first time can be a significant undertaking; there are so many questions:
- Is there a better layout or design that I should use?
- Is this experience relevant?
- Is it too short or too long?
- Where did the last 6 hours of my life go?
The goal is to have your resume stand out clearly to a hiring manager in the brief 30-60 second window that they may have to review. Here are some guidelines that can help with exactly that.
Firstly, and this is probably the most cliché tip in the history of resume tips, keep it to one page! The easiest way to create a digestible resume is to put all this information in a single view. Moving along now...
Your resume should contain some key information, such as:
- Who are you?
- What are you looking for?
- Professional Experience (or projects in lieu of professional experience)
But Wait … What About All My Skills!?
“Skills” sections are a popular addition to resumes, and we get it — you want to show off what you know! However, these do take up space and don't provide much (if any) context. So, what's the alternative?
Put the relevant tech stack (your skills) under every job position and/or project worked on
This immediately communicates your professional (or educational) experience with that tech and provides context as to the scope of your experience with that stack, and it doesn't require a new section. This is how you can make your skills stand out without bloating your resume! If I could only give a single piece of advice besides keeping a resume to one page, it would be this.
Luckily they don't charge us by the word for hosting this blog post, so...
A Few More Tips:
What: Not everything on a resume needs to focus on the tech. Tie your contributions to team, engineering, or business objectives where possible.
Why: At FloQast we love and look for product-minded engineers. For example, it's really cool that you built an ML model to consume an IoT data lake … but why? And what was the outcome?
What: Include your LinkedIn profile and take some pride in it, we will likely be checking it out.
Why: In some cases, your resume is the hook, and a hiring manager may go to LinkedIn to find out more about you. In others, perhaps there was an issue parsing your resume in our system, and we have to rely on LinkedIn instead.
What: Submit resumes in PDF format
Why: Remember those pesky parsing issues I just mentioned? PDFs are best for avoiding any issues like that.
What: Don't represent a side project or educational project as professional work experience.
Why: These are relatively easy to spot and present as disingenuous. We understand that breaking into the industry with your first job can be tough, but we have openings for Software Engineer I's (9 hired so far in 2021) that require 0 years of experience, so there are opportunities out there to break in.
What: Include past work experience even if it's not as a software engineer.
Why: Soft skills, professionalism, and career progression are important in engineering just as in other professions, so take this opportunity to show how your background may help you in the field of software engineering.
I love seeing GitHub links and projects on resumes but the truth is that many graduates are coming out with tailored resumes including a portfolio of projects with several GitHub repo links and links to hosted applications — it's a lot to digest. As such, in your project descriptions, it's helpful if you:
- Clarify the responsibilities of the project
- How big was the team that worked on this?
- How much scaffolding was provided?
- Most importantly, exactly which part of this project did you work on?
- Include links directly to the piece you were responsible for. Both to GitHub and to the hosted application (if applicable)
Providing the above information at a glance affords the hiring manager some time to check out your work.
At FloQast, our engineering managers review every single resume that comes in, and as we continue to scale, it's more important than ever to provide one that's easy for a real person to process. That said, we're still hiring so keep 'em coming!