Top tips to create an engaging software developer CV
Author: Nicola Lumb | Date published: 03/08/20
Writing a software developer CV doesn’t need to be time consuming or painful, it should be much easier than finding the missing semi-colon! However, it’s understandable that not everyone knows how to write a standout CV to showcase both their development and people skills, so we’ve compiled our top software developer CV essentials to help.
First impressions count! Across the recruitment industry as a whole, the average time spent looking at a CV is just 5-7 seconds. While we obviously spend longer than this, it shows how important a well-formatted CV is. Recruiters are often looking for specific skills and if they can’t find them easily because your CV is poorly formatted your chances of being invited to an interview are dramatically reduced.
You don’t want your software developer CV to be too long (our advice is 2-3 pages) and following a clear structure is a simple way to organise your information. Imagine if you were presented with 10 pages of career history, would you read it all?!
– At the beginning of your CV, don’t forget to clearly state your full name and contact details (email, mobile number, address) at the top. It sounds obvious but we often receive CVs without a phone number. While nobody wants to be spammed with hundreds of phone calls, jobseekers also need to appreciate that we won’t be able to find you the perfect job if we can’t chat to you about what you are looking for in a new position.
– Use a consistent structure throughout with headings, subheadings and bullet points to help the reader easily navigate your information.
– Do you have a GitHub account or online portfolio? Include links to these, as well as your LinkedIn profile.
– Consistent formatting is essential. We recommend using the font ‘Calibri, size 11, black’ as it’s easily readable and suitable for all devices.
Software developer CV structure
– Personal details
– Personal statement
– Technical skills
– Current/Previous employment
Every strong software development CV should start with a personal statement. This short paragraph of around 4-6 lines should sit under your name and contact details. You want a one punch knockout paragraph that’s going to grab the attention of the hiring manager/recruiter (Think Tyson Fury of the CV world!) and briefly highlight your key skills and achievements.
A highly focused software developer with five years’ experience in a variety of development and technical positions, specifically 3 years with C#, .NET and cloud technologies. Organised, methodical and a keen eye for detail with results in solid coding and trustworthy software principles. I have a clear understanding of client requirements and strong communication skills. Currently looking for a new opportunity to broaden my skills and add value to a new development team.
When you upload your CV to a job boards, recruiters and potential employers can search for keywords within the content and match you to suitable vacancies. Think about including relevant keywords and technologies in your personal profile so your software developer CV can easily be found.
Next you should list your technical skills, such as the development languages, frameworks and databases that you have experience with. This shouldn’t be an exhaustive list of every tech stack you have had exposure to, just a summary of the key technologies you are confident using.
Database systems: MySQL, SQLite, MongoDB
Design and development tools: Git, SVN, Docker, PuTTY, Visual Studio Code
Operating systems and platforms: Linux, macOS, Windows, AWS, Microsoft Azure
List your work history in reverse chronological order, starting with your current role and then work back. It’s important you include enough detail, mentioning specific projects and your achievements within these roles.
For each role you need to include the month and year for all the start and end dates. Including just the year doesn’t give employers an accurate idea of how long you worked in each position.
Not all work experience is treated equally when it comes to looking for a software development job. While it’s great to have past work experience, you should focus on roles that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’ve worked as a cashier in retail or a chef in the food industry, don’t include it! Your abilities to handle money or serve food don’t show your ability to succeed as a software developer.
When you’re describing your roles, you might want to mention if you’ve worked mainly within the software industry or if you’ve worked for corporate giants but on their systems and APIs.
Software Developer – Company X – (November 2013 – Present)
Leading a small team on a variety of development projects and delivering solutions to meet and exceed clients’ briefs.
Explain a little about the company’s product if relevant to your position and responsibilities.
– Being first point of call for new and current clients and assessing software requirements
– Analysing and debugging code
– Maintaining the stability of all live systems
– Design and develop windows applications
– Mentoring team members in development and technical progression
– Writing multiple code and script and ensuring cross browser compliance
– Trouble shooting and problem solving
Don’t forget your soft skills too when thinking about the responsibilities of your role. You might be up against other developers with comparable knowledge of software languages, which means it’ll be hard to stand out on the merit of your technical skills alone. Perhaps you have great communication skills; mention in your CV you have experience liaising with stakeholders or senior decision makers, or maybe you are a natural leader and you’ve helped mentor junior members of the team.
If you have it (and it’s okay if you don’t, as experience over education is usually preferred) list your relevant education. Generally, a software developer role will require at least a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science/Studies or related.
List your course/degree, dates, University, along with the outcome:
2012 – 2015 – University of Wales – BSc Computer Science (Hons) – First Class hons
– Fundamentals of Computer Science
– Networks and Databases
– Analysis, Design and management of information Systems
2011 – 2012 – Wales Technology College
Using examples of self-teaching and continuous upskilling can often take the place of a traditional bachelor’s degree if this is applicable to you.
Interests and projects
A section and final closing part of a software developer CV that’s often overlooked. Clients are looking for personality and someone’s passion to shine through on their CV. Personal projects and freelancing work is reflective of someone’s passion for development. It’s not about hiring people who can simply churn out code endlessly, but finding developers and engineers who can deliver quality, well-written, well-tested and maintainable code. If you build Android apps on the weekend this will really show your ability in the workplace – Show your GitHub off!
Also include your other hobbies even if they’re not related to software development. You may fundraise in your spare time for your local charity or mentor/coach a football team. This all contributes to your and will show that your social and communication skills are there.
Take away tips
– Always double check for spelling and grammatical errors. This is your only chance to send a perfect CV, so spending a few extra minutes will be well worth your time.
– Ask a friend, work colleague or relative to read through your CV (or a recruiter) to get a second opinion on whether you are really selling yourself.
– Focus on your key strengths and your ability to solve problems
– Avoid negative language
– Keep job experience past 10 years (unless relevant) off your CV
A structured and well-written CV will help you engage with innovate employers looking for top software developers. You could be a fantastic programmer, but a poorly presented CV could be standing in your way of your next opportunity. If you use our tips and advice to create a quality software developer CV and you have strong expertise you should find it relatively easy to progress your software development career.
Download our free CV template now