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How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume

How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume

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Embarking on the journey to craft the perfect software engineer resume can often feel like starting a new development project. You’re faced with the challenge of condensing your technical skills, years of experience, and personal projects into a single page that stands out to potential employers. Whether you’re a seasoned senior software engineer with a vast array of software solutions under your belt or a recent graduate stepping into the world of tech, your resume is a crucial tool in your job search arsenal.

In the rapidly evolving field of software engineering, where new technologies and programming languages emerge regularly, having a resume that not only speaks to your technical expertise but also showcases your adaptability and problem-solving skills is essential. It’s not just about listing your experiences; it’s about telling your professional story in a way that resonates with tech companies and highlights your contributions to software development and project management.

This guide, “How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume,” is designed to be your roadmap through this process. We will navigate through the nuances of tailoring your resume to mirror the job description you’re aiming for, ensuring that your skill set aligns with what’s in high demand. From optimizing the resume format to crafting an impactful resume summary, from detailing your professional experience to highlighting your educational background, we cover all the bases.

But that’s not all. We understand that a good software engineer resume goes beyond just technicalities. It’s about presenting a blend of your professional journey, your personal projects, and the unique qualities you bring to a development team. Whether you’re an entry-level software engineer or a professional with extensive experience, this guide will help you articulate your value in a way that captures the attention of hiring managers and lands you your dream job in software engineering.

As we dive into the details, remember: your resume is more than a document. It’s a testament to your journey, skills, and the potential impact you can make in the dynamic world of software engineering. So, let’s take that first step together and create a resume that not only ticks all the boxes but also tells a compelling story about you as a software engineer.

Table Of Contents
How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume: Understanding the Job Description

Understanding the Job Description

Tailoring Your Resume to Each Job

One of the most crucial steps in crafting a compelling software engineer resume is tailoring it to the specific job you’re applying for. This process begins with a thorough analysis of the job description. Each job posting is a treasure trove of information, indicating not only the technical skills and programming languages the employer values but also hinting at the broader company culture and expectations.

Why Customization Matters

The importance of customization cannot be overstated. In a field as diverse as software engineering, where roles can range from developing user-centric software solutions to focusing on machine learning or database management, understanding the nuances of each job posting is key. A resume that’s tailored to a specific job speaks volumes about your attention to detail and your earnestness in applying for the position. It shows that you’re not just casting a wide net, but are genuinely interested in that particular role and company.

Using Keywords from the Job Description

Integrating keywords from the job description into your resume is a strategy that serves two purposes. Firstly, it makes your resume more likely to get past Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that many companies use to filter resumes. These systems scan for specific keywords related to the job. Secondly, it demonstrates to the hiring manager that your skill set and experience align well with what they’re looking for.

When you encounter terms like “problem-solving skills,” “project management,” “team collaboration,” or specific technical requirements in the job description, find ways to incorporate these naturally into your resume. For example, if the job description emphasizes “experience in developing high-demand software systems,” you could detail a project or role where you contributed significantly to such systems.

Going Beyond Keywords

While keywords are essential, it’s also important to understand the context behind them. A job posting seeking a “software engineer with a strong background in a fast-paced environment” is not just looking for someone who has worked with tight deadlines; they’re looking for a candidate who thrives in such settings. Tailoring your resume, then, involves not only using the right words but also showcasing your experiences and achievements in a way that reflects these underlying qualities.

How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume: Resume goal

The True Goal of a Resume: Landing the Interview

Understanding the Objective

It’s a common misconception that a resume’s sole purpose is to secure a job. However, in reality, the primary goal of a great software engineer resume is to land you an interview. The job offer comes later, and is largely determined by your performance during the interview. At that stage, it’s your answers and interpersonal skills that count, not just what’s on your resume. If you want to prepare for Software Engineer interviews, then you can read my post How To Prepare For Software Engineering Interviews.

The Resume: Your Professional Highlight Reel

Think of your resume as the highlight reel of your professional career, akin to watching the highlights of a soccer match. In a soccer game highlight, what captivates the audience are the goals, near misses, and exceptional saves – moments that, though they make up only a small fraction of the game, define its outcome and excitement. Similarly, your resume should focus on the outcomes and achievements that had the most significant impact in your career.

It’s not the mundane, everyday tasks, but the moments where you excelled, made a tangible difference, or significantly contributed to a project. These highlights are what capture a hiring manager’s attention. They demonstrate your value, your role in critical projects, and your potential contribution to future software solutions.

Appealing to Both ATS and Human Readers

In today’s job market, your resume needs to impress two types of ‘readers’: the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and the human hiring managers. To get past the ATS, your resume must contain the right keywords and be formatted in a way that these systems can read. On the other hand, to captivate the human reader, it needs to tell a compelling story, showcasing your skill set, professional journey, and the impact you’ve made. Remember that the human reader will spend between 10 seconds to 1 minute on your resume. So, with a quick glance, they need to understand your highlights.

Crafting Your Resume for Dual Appeal

To achieve this dual appeal, start with a format and structure that is ATS-friendly, avoiding overly complicated designs or elements that might not be machine-readable. Then, infuse your resume with a narrative that a human reader will find engaging. This narrative should be a mix of technical prowess and soft skills, painting a picture of not just what you’ve done, but how you’ve done it and why it mattered.

Lessons learned

Remember, a resume is a tool to get you through the door, a means to secure that all-important interview. It’s your opportunity to make a strong first impression. By understanding its true purpose and crafting it with both ATS and human readers in mind, you greatly increase your chances of being noticed and remembered. Just like in a soccer match, it’s those key moments of brilliance that stand out and are remembered. Let your resume be a reflection of these standout moments in your career.

How to Write a Killer Software Engineer Resume: Resume Structure

Resume Format and Structure

Starting with a Strong Template

Crafting your software engineer resume begins with selecting the right format and structure. I’m providing a template here that is based on a tried-and-tested format from my Kellogg MBA, further refined with insights from career offices of prestigious institutions like Chicago Booth, MIT, and Stanford. This template is designed to showcase your skills and experiences in the most effective way possible.

This is what the template looks like:

Resume template

Key Elements to Remember

Here’s a bulleted list of essential tips to keep in mind while formatting and structuring your resume:

  • Page Limit: Aim to fit your resume within one page. However, if you have more than 10-15 years of experience, a two-page resume is acceptable. Remember, it should never exceed two pages.
  • Font and Size: Use a professional font (like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman) in a 10-12 size. This ensures readability both on screen and in print.
  • Proofreading: Rigorously proofread your resume to eliminate spelling, grammatical, and syntax errors. Avoid passive language to keep your statements strong and clear.
  • Language and Tone: Steer clear of personal pronouns, slang, and abbreviations. Keep the tone professional and the content clear.
  • Focus on Impact: When detailing your experiences, emphasize the impact and value you brought to the role or project. Quantify achievements wherever possible.
  • Reverse Chronological Order: List your experiences in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent.
  • Heading Order: Tailor the order of sections based on your experience level. For recent graduates (up to 5 years post-graduation), start with the ‘Education’ section. For more experienced professionals, lead with the ‘Experience’ section.
  • Use of Bullet Points: Utilize bullet points for clarity and conciseness, especially in the experience and skills sections. This makes it easier for employers to scan through key information.
  • Customization for Each Job Application: Adjust your resume for each job you apply to, emphasizing the most relevant experiences and skills.
  • Include Keywords: Integrate keywords from the job description to align your resume with what the employer is seeking.
  • ATS Optimization: Ensure your resume is ATS-friendly by using a clean layout, standard fonts, and including the right keywords.
  • Highlight Technical Skills: Given the nature of software engineering roles, make sure your technical skills are prominently featured and easy to identify.
  • Consistency in Formatting: Maintain consistent formatting throughout the document – this includes font sizes, bullet styles, and alignment.
  • Contact Information: Clearly display your contact information at the top, including your name, phone number, and professional email address.
  • PDF usage: Always share your resume in pdf format, in order to avoid any modifications from 3rd parties.

Heading Order

If you are a new grad (up to 5 years post-graduation), then the structure your resume should be:

  • Contact information
  • [Optional] Objective
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Leadership
  • Awards
  • Skills & Interests

If you are not a new grad, then the structure of your resume should be:

  • Contact information
  • [Optional] Summary
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Leadership
  • Awards
  • Skills & Interests

In the next sections, we will talk more about the content of each heading.

Lessons learned

The structure of your resume is just as important as the content within it. A well-structured resume not only presents your information in a logical and readable format but also demonstrates your professionalism and attention to detail. Remember, your resume is your personal marketing tool – it should not only reflect your experiences and skills but also your ability to communicate and organize information effectively.

How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume: Contact Information

Contact Information

Essential Details to Include

The contact information section of your resume may seem straightforward, but it sets the stage for the first impression. This section should be clear, concise, and professional, providing the necessary details for potential employers to easily reach you. Here’s what to include:

  • Full Name: Your name should be at the very top of your resume, preferably in a slightly larger font size than the rest of the document.
  • Phone Number: Provide a current phone number where you can be easily reached. Ensure your voicemail greeting is professional and straightforward.
  • Professional Email Address: Use an email address that looks professional; it’s often best to use some variation of your name. Avoid nicknames or humorous email handles.
  • Location: Include your city and state. Full address is not necessary.
  • LinkedIn Profile or Personal Website: If applicable, include the URL to your LinkedIn profile or a personal portfolio website. Make sure these profiles are up-to-date and professional.

What to Avoid

Your resume should focus on your professional qualifications and suitability for the role. Therefore, certain personal details should be omitted:

  • No Photos: In the United States, it is standard practice not to include a photograph on your resume. Including a photo can lead to unconscious bias and is generally considered unprofessional in the U.S. job market.
  • Avoid Personal Data: Information about your age, religion, health status, or marital status should not be included. Not only is this information irrelevant to your job application, but including it can also lead to unconscious bias.
  • Stay Professional: Resist the urge to include personal social media profiles unless they are directly relevant to your professional qualifications and are appropriate for potential employers to view.

Location Specifics

Be aware that resume norms regarding contact information can vary significantly by country. For example, in some European countries, it’s common to include a photo and other personal details. However, in the U.S., the focus is strictly on professional qualifications and contact information. Tailor your resume accordingly if you are applying for positions in different countries.

Lessons learned

The contact information on your resume is more than just a way for employers to reach you; it’s an opportunity to present yourself in a professional light right from the start. Ensure that every detail in this section adds to a polished and professional image, paving the way for a positive first impression.

How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume: Objective

Resume Summary or Objective

Understanding Summary and Objective

Before deciding whether to include a summary or objective in your resume, it’s important to understand what they are and their usual purposes. A resume summary is a brief statement at the top of your resume that outlines your professional achievements and skills. It’s typically used by individuals who have several years of experience. On the other hand, a resume objective is more about your career goals and is often used by those who are new to the workforce or are changing careers.

Why They Might Not Be Necessary

In my professional view, dedicating space to a summary or objective might not be the best use of the limited real estate on your resume. Considering that a hiring manager spends less than a minute scanning a resume, it’s crucial to focus on the most impactful elements. The template I provide intentionally omits these sections to utilize space more effectively for showcasing verifiable skills and achievements.

The Pitfall of Non-Verifiable Soft Skills

A common mistake is using the summary or objective to list non-verifiable soft skills like being a ‘hard-working, amazing leader with great communication skills.’ These subjective claims often fail to capture the attention of the reader and can backfire if the content is not backed up by your experiences or if inconsistencies are noticed during an interview. For instance, claiming excellent communication skills and then failing to articulate well in an interview can be detrimental.

When a Summary or Objective Can Be Effective

That said, there is a scenario where a summary or objective might be beneficial. If you can condense it into a single, impactful sentence with substantiated claims, it could add value. For example, a statement like, “Experienced Software Engineer with 10 years of experience in Machine Learning looking to join an AI startup” is precise, relevant, and informative. It immediately tells the employer who you are, what you’ve done, and what you’re looking for.

Personal Choice and Tailoring to Your Needs

Ultimately, whether to include a summary or objective is a personal decision. If you feel that a concise, well-crafted statement can add value to your resume, then by all means, include it. However, ensure that it is succinct, specific, and substantiated. Your resume should be a reflection of your professional journey and goals, and if a summary or objective aligns with that, then it can find a place in your resume.

Lessons learned

In summary, while a resume summary or objective can be a useful tool for some, it’s essential to evaluate its impact and necessity based on your individual circumstances and career stage. The goal is to make every section of your resume meaningful and impactful, ensuring that the limited space is used to your greatest advantage.

How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume: Professional Experience section

Professional Experience Section

Crafting a Compelling Narrative

The Professional Experience section is the cornerstone of your software engineer resume. Here, you don’t just list your past roles; you narrate your journey through impactful achievements and technical expertise. This section should vividly illustrate how you’ve applied your skills in real-world situations, making it the most dynamic part of your resume.

Emphasizing Impact and Technical Details

In this section, you showcase your work history by listing your past experiences in reverse chronological order. Each company that you worked for will have its own entry.

Each entry in this section should not only demonstrate the impact of your work but also provide technical details that establish your proficiency level in key areas. Remember, it’s crucial to:

  • Structure Bullet Points Effectively: Follow the “[Action Verb] + [Task with Technical Detail] + [Outcome/Accomplishment]” format. This structure not only highlights your actions but also associates them with tangible outcomes and the technical means you employed to achieve them.
  • Incorporate Relevant Keywords: Reflect keywords from the job description you’re targeting. This tailoring shows that your experience aligns with the role’s requirements and helps your resume pass through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
  • Detail Technical Aspects: Mention specific programming languages, tools, or technologies you used. This is especially important for those skills you need to showcase proficiency in. Ideally, every programming language and tool listed in the “Skills” section should find a corresponding mention here.

Maximizing the Impact of Your Experiences

Your goal is to make each bullet point a compelling story of problem-solving, innovation, and impact. Quantify your achievements wherever possible, and provide context to the scale and scope of your work. This approach will give potential employers a clear picture of your capabilities and how you can contribute to their organization.

It does not make sense to have bullets that are implied by your job title and do not show impact. For example, it is assumed that a software engineer will write design docs, so it is a waste of space to include the bullet point “Wrote design docs for my features”.

Bullet points: Categories and Examples

In this section, I show the 5 categories of bullet points that are part of the Experience section in a Software Engineer resume and give examples for each category. Please take note that each bullet point:

  • Follows the structure “[Action Verb] + [Task with Technical Detail] + [Outcome/Accomplishment]
  • Starts with an Action Verb
  • Includes technical details, such as the programming language or the tool that you use
  • Shows quantifiable outcome using a specific metric
  1. Implementation Work
    • Engineered a new microservice architecture using Java, reducing system downtime by 30%.
    • Developed a responsive user interface in React, leading to a 25% increase in customer satisfaction.
    • Streamlined database queries with SQL, improving data retrieval speed by 40%.
    • Implemented machine learning algorithms using Python, increasing predictive accuracy by 20%.
    • Optimized system performance through C++, enhancing processing speed by 35%.
  2. Leadership and Teamwork
    • Led a team of 5 engineers in a full-stack development project using Angular and Node.js, delivering 2 weeks ahead of schedule.
    • Coordinated a Ruby on Rails cross-departmental effort to launch a major software update with zero downtime.
    • Mentored junior developers in cloud computing essentials, improving AWS deployment efficiency by 50%.
    • Chaired weekly Agile meetings, leveraging JIRA for project tracking, reducing misunderstandings by 40%.
    • Supervised a critical project phase of a .NET application, ensuring adherence to deadlines and quality standards.
  3. Awards and Achievements
    • Recognized with the ‘Best Innovator’ award for pioneering a TensorFlow-based machine learning algorithm.
    • Received ‘Employee of the Year’ for exceptional project management and leadership in a series of JavaScript-heavy projects.
    • Honored with the ‘Top Performer’ accolade for outstanding coding efficiency in Python and Java.
    • Awarded ‘Best Technical Presentation’ on Docker utilization in microservices at a national tech conference.
    • Clinched the ‘Most Valuable Developer’ award in a company-wide hackathon featuring a complex PostgreSQL database challenge.
  4. Unique Contributions
    • Authored a popular technical blog focused on modern C# practices, attracting over 20,000 followers.
    • Volunteered in coding bootcamps, focusing on teaching Python and JavaScript, enhancing skills of over 100 participants.
    • Established a tech podcast, discussing new trends in software development, including the latest in Swift and Kotlin.
    • Participated in panel discussions at industry conferences, representing the company’s advancements in AI with Python.
    • Initiated and led a community coding event using Go, fostering local tech community engagement.
  5. Beyond the Code: Distinguishing Contributions
    • Created and maintained a technical knowledge base on Git and version control, reducing onboarding time for new hires by 30%.
    • Actively contributed to open-source projects on GitHub, improving software reliability in JavaScript and TypeScript.
    • Collaborated with sales teams, providing technical expertise in Salesforce to aid in closing major client deals.
    • Developed a customer feedback system in PHP, leading to a product improvement with a 15% increase in sales.
    • Organized and led a series of internal workshops on advanced React techniques, enhancing team skills.

These expanded bullet points cover a broad range of accomplishments and contributions, showcasing various aspects of a software engineer’s professional experience. Each point is structured to highlight not only the task or responsibility but also the significant impact or result of the action, using specific metrics where possible. This approach provides a comprehensive view of your professional achievements and skills. 

Also, the inclusion of specific programming languages and tools not only shows your proficiency level in these areas but also aligns your resume with the specific requirements of the job you’re applying for. This approach ensures that your resume resonates with the technical demands of the role and demonstrates your direct experience with the tools and languages that are crucial for the position.

100+ Action Verbs Categorized for Software Engineers

This comprehensive section provides clear guidelines on crafting impactful bullet points in the Professional Experience section, emphasizing the importance of demonstrating tangible results. The categorized list of action verbs offers a wide range of options to start each bullet point, catering to different aspects of a software engineer’s role and achievements.

  1. Implementation and Development
    • Engineered, Developed, Programmed, Built, Designed, Automated, Optimized, Refactored, Debugged, Deployed, Implemented
  2. Leadership and Management
    • Led, Managed, Coordinated, Supervised, Directed, Mentored, Guided, Facilitated, Spearheaded, Chaired, Drove, Owned
  3. Problem-Solving
    • Resolved, Addressed, Remediated, Corrected, Overcame, Troubleshot, Eliminated, Reconciled, Simplified, Decoded
  4. Innovation and Improvement
    • Innovated, Revamped, Modernized, Upgraded, Transformed, Revitalized, Enhanced, Expanded, Advanced, Pioneered
  5. Communication and Collaboration
    • Communicated, Collaborated, Partnered, Liaised, Networked, Engaged, Articulated, Presented, Advocated, Negotiated
  6. Analytical Skills
    • Analyzed, Assessed, Evaluated, Examined, Investigated, Surveyed, Researched, Mapped, Quantified, Tested
  7. Project Management
    • Organized, Planned, Executed, Facilitated, Controlled, Coordinated, Scheduled, Monitored, Oversaw, Streamlined
  8. Achievements and Awards
    • Awarded, Recognized, Honored, Achieved, Attained, Secured, Acquired, Garnered, Accumulated, Clinched
  9. Teaching and Mentoring
    • Taught, Mentored, Trained, Coached, Educated, Instructed, Guided, Advised, Enlightened, Cultivated
  10. Unique and Miscellaneous Skills
    • Authored, Volunteered, Participated, Contributed, Engaged, Advocated, Initiated, Launched, Established, Founded
How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume: Professional Experience For Students section

Professional Experience for Students: Highlighting Academic Projects

Navigating the Experience Section Without Professional Background

If you’re still in school or a recent graduate without past work experience, the work experience section of your resume can still shine by focusing on your academic projects. These projects are the best way to provide valuable insights into your capabilities and potential as a software engineer.

Showcasing Your Academic Projects

  1. Detail What You Implemented: Clearly describe the scope of the project, your role, and the technical challenges you overcame.
  2. Tools and Programming Languages: Be specific about the tools and programming languages you used. This not only demonstrates your technical skills but also helps your resume align with job descriptions that require proficiency in these areas.  This is very important, especially for the languages and tools that they need to show proficiency in. It is MUCH more important to list a language as part of a tool that they implemented in the “Experience” section than in the corresponding “Skills” section, because this is how the human reader will know that you have previous experience with this language and you are not just listing it. Ideally, every programming language and tool that is listed in the “Skills” should also have a corresponding bullet point in the “Experience” section.
  3. Quantify and Qualify Your Work: Wherever possible, use numbers to quantify your work and results. This could include the size of datasets you worked with, the performance improvements achieved, or the number of users impacted.

Example Bullet Points for College Students

  1. Developed a Python-based web scraping tool to collect and analyze social media data, successfully mapping user trends over six months.
  2. Engineered a machine learning model using TensorFlow to predict stock market trends with an accuracy rate of 80%.
  3. Created a mobile application in Swift for iOS to assist with personal budgeting, featuring user-friendly interfaces and real-time expense tracking.
  4. Implemented a Java-based inventory management system for a university project, which streamlined the tracking process by 40%.
  5. Built a fully-functional website using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for a local nonprofit, increasing their online engagement by 30%.
  6. Designed and programmed a Raspberry Pi robot that could navigate obstacles autonomously, employing Python and basic AI algorithms.
  7. Collaborated on a team project to develop a React-based interactive dashboard for visualizing climate change data.
  8. Led a group project to design a database using SQL for managing a virtual library system, improving data retrieval efficiency.
  9. Developed a simple yet effective encryption algorithm in C++ as part of a cybersecurity course, focusing on data protection best practices.
  10. Created a multiplayer online game using Unity and C#, incorporating real-time updates and user feedback to refine gameplay mechanics.

These bullet points demonstrate how you can effectively showcase your academic projects in a way that highlights your technical skills, problem-solving abilities, and potential to contribute meaningfully in a professional setting. Remember, the goal is to show that the skills you’ve developed through your coursework are transferable to the workplace.

How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume: Education section

Education Section

Positioning the Education Section

The positioning of the Education section on your resume is strategic. For new graduates (up to five years post-graduation), it should be placed at the top, given its relevance and recentness. For more experienced candidates, it’s appropriate to position this section below the Professional Experience section.

Structuring the Education Section

  1. Reverse Chronological Order: List your educational experiences in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent.
  2. Include Major/Field of Study: Clearly state your major or field of study.
  3. GPA and Standardized Test Scores: If your GPA is high (typically above 3.5) or you have impressive standardized test scores (like GMAT, SAT, GRE), include them. Otherwise, it’s perfectly acceptable to leave these out.
  4. Scholarships, Awards, and Publications: Highlight any scholarships, academic awards, or publications. If the list of publications is extensive, you can briefly mention them here and provide more details in a dedicated Awards or Achievements section.
  5. Relevant Coursework and Thesis: For current students or recent graduates, including relevant coursework and details about your thesis can be valuable, especially if they align with the job you’re applying for.
  6. Expected Graduation Date: For current students, make sure to note that your graduation date is expected, and include it in parentheses.
  7. Current or Expected GPA: If you’re still studying, you can list your GPA as ‘Current’ or ‘Expected’.


  1. Recent Graduate
    • B.S. in Computer Science, June 2023; GPA: 3.8/4.0
    • Relevant Coursework: Machine Learning, Advanced Algorithms, Data Structures
    • Thesis: “Optimizing Machine Learning Algorithms for Autonomous Vehicles”
    • Awards: Dean’s List (2022-2023), Stanford Undergraduate Research Award (2023)
  2. Current Student
    • B.S. in Software Engineering, May 2024 (Expected); Current GPA: 3.9/4.0
    • Relevant Coursework: Artificial Intelligence, Cloud Computing, Software Project Management
    • Scholarships: MIT Academic Scholarship (2020-2024)
  3. Experienced Candidate
    • M.S. in Computer Science, June 2014, GPA: 3.7/4.0
    • Publications: Published 2 papers in the area of Machine Learning

For experienced candidates, the Education section is more succinct, focusing on degrees and major achievements or publications. For current students and recent graduates, this section is more detailed, emphasizing academic accomplishments, relevant coursework, and thesis work. Tailoring this section to reflect your educational background and its relevance to the job you’re applying for is key.

How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Section: Leadership section

Leadership Section

The Importance of the Leadership Section

The Leadership section of your resume is a chance to showcase your ability to take initiative, influence others, and contribute to your community or organization. It’s particularly valuable for highlighting soft skills like leadership skills, teamwork, communication, people skills and management abilities.

Types of Leadership Positions to Include

  1. Board of Directors: Participation in an organization’s board, contributing to strategic decisions.
  2. Volunteering: Leadership roles in non-profit organizations, community groups, or charity events.
  3. Professional Organizations: Holding office or playing a key role in professional societies or industry groups.
  4. Mentorship Programs: Leading mentorship initiatives, either within your company or in external organizations.
  5. Event Organization: Leading the organization of conferences, workshops, or meetups.
  6. Student Clubs (for Students/New Grads): Holding office or a leadership role in university clubs, student societies, or campus initiatives.
  7. Sports Teams or Cultural Groups: Leading or coordinating team activities, events, or competitions.

Structuring the Leadership Section

This section should follow the same format as the Professional Experience section: [Action Verb] + [Task] -> [Outcome/Accomplishment]. This format helps emphasize not just what you did, but the impact or change that resulted from your actions.


    • Chair, Technology Committee
      • Led the digital transformation of the non-profit, enhancing operational efficiency by 25%.
    • Volunteer Coordinator
      • Organized annual charity runs, raising over $50,000 for local health initiatives.
    • President
      • Grew the chapter’s membership by 40%, enhancing networking opportunities and professional development.
    • Program Director
      • Established and led a mentorship program that improved new hire onboarding satisfaction rates by 30%.
    • Event Coordinator
      • Coordinated a tech conference that attracted over 1,000 attendees and facilitated 20+ workshops.
    • President
      • Increased membership by 50% and initiated a successful annual hackathon, fostering a collaborative learning environment.
    • Team Captain
      • Led the team to win the inter-company league two years in a row, fostering team spirit and collaboration.

Note for Those Without (M)any Formal Leadership Roles

Many individuals may not have formal leadership positions to list. In such cases, it’s perfectly fine to omit this section. Your resume should play to your strengths and experiences, and if leadership roles aren’t part of your journey yet, focus on other areas where you excel.

Also, if you only have 1-2 important leadership positions that you need to save space, you can just list them in the “Skills” section.


The Leadership section is an opportunity to display your ability to lead, influence, and contribute beyond your technical skills. For students and new graduates, it’s an excellent way to show potential and character. Remember, the impact of your leadership is as important as the role itself, so be sure to highlight the outcomes of your initiatives.

How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume: Awards section

Awards Section

Highlighting Your Achievements

The Awards section of your resume is a place to showcase recognitions and distinctions that set you apart. This section can provide a competitive edge, illustrating your excellence and commitment in your field.

Selecting Relevant Awards

When populating this section, it’s crucial to keep relevance in mind. Choose awards and honors that are pertinent to the software engineering field or the specific position you are applying for. An award that is unrelated may not add significant value to your application.

Examples of Awards and Distinctions

  1. Best Software Project Award: Received at a national level tech competition for innovative software design and implementation
  2. Dean’s List: Achieved for academic excellence in Computer Science, consecutively for four semesters at XYZ University.
  3. Employee of the Year: Awarded for outstanding performance and contribution to key projects at ABC Tech Inc.
  4. Hackathon Winner: Led a team that won first place in a regional hackathon, focusing on AI-driven solutions for healthcare.
  5. Innovation in Technology Award: Recognized by the National Software Developers Association for developing a groundbreaking algorithm.
  6. IEEE Young Professional Award: Received for significant contributions to the field of software engineering within five years of graduation.
  7. Patent Holder: Awarded a patent for a unique data encryption method that enhances cybersecurity protocols.
  8. Coding Bootcamp Mentorship Award: Honored for exceptional mentorship and guidance to new learners in a renowned coding bootcamp.

Note on Omitting the Awards Section

Not everyone will have awards or distinctions to list, and that’s perfectly okay. If you do not have relevant awards, or if you need to conserve space, consider omitting this section. Alternatively, significant awards can be briefly mentioned in the Skills or Experience section to save space and maintain the resume’s focus.

Lessons learned

The Awards section, while not mandatory for every candidate, can be a powerful tool for those who have relevant accolades. It adds an extra dimension to your profile, highlighting your achievements and potential for excellence in your career. Remember, the key is relevance and impact, ensuring that each item listed reinforces your suitability for the role you are applying for.

How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume: Skills sections

Skills Section

Crafting a Comprehensive Skills Section

The Skills section of your resume is a concise showcase of your abilities and competencies. It’s important to carefully curate this section to ensure it reflects the skills most relevant and valuable to the positions you’re targeting.

  1. Technical Skills
    • Computer Languages and Tools: List the programming languages and software tools you are proficient in. Remember, it’s more impactful to have these skills also reflected in the Professional Experience section, where you can demonstrate how you’ve applied them in real-world scenarios.
      • Example: Proficient in Java, Python, C++, SQL, React, Docker, Git
  2. Certifications and Trainings
    • Relevant Certifications and Training Programs: Include any certifications or specialized training courses you’ve completed, especially those that are pertinent to software engineering.
      • Example: Certified Scrum Master, AWS Certified Solutions Architect, Google Cloud Certified – Professional Data Engineer
  3. Languages
    • Language Proficiency: If you are multilingual, list the languages you speak and your level of proficiency in each.
      • Example: Fluent in English, Conversational in Spanish, Basic German
  4. Interests
    • Hobbies and Personal Interests: Briefly mention your hobbies or interests, especially if they are relevant to the tech industry or can demonstrate soft skills like teamwork, creativity, or leadership.
      • Example: Avid chess player, tech blog writer, marathon runner
  5. Additional Skills
    • Soft Skills: While it’s better to demonstrate soft skills in your Experience and Leadership sections, you can list key attributes here if space allows.
      • Example: Strong analytical thinking, excellent communication skills, effective team player
    • Project Management Skills: If relevant, include skills related to project management.
      • Example: Experienced in Agile and Waterfall methodologies, project scheduling, risk management

Tailoring Your Skills Section

Remember, the Skills section should be tailored for each job application. Align it with the job description, ensuring that your most relevant skills are highlighted. This section, while brief, plays a vital role in summarizing your professional capabilities and making your resume stand out.

Lessons learned

A well-crafted Skills section not only adds depth to your resume but also provides a quick snapshot of your capabilities. It’s your opportunity to make a strong impression by showcasing a balanced mix of technical and soft skills, certifications, language proficiencies, and personal interests.

How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume: Sample Software Engineer Resume section

Sample Software Engineer Resume: Putting It All Together

In this section, I want to show you a sample software engineer resume, in order to understand how everything fits together. I’ve created this resume using bullet points from the above sections. The sample resume is below:

How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume: Sample

You can download the sample resume in doc format (Word or Google Docs) here.

How To Write A Killer Software Engineer Resume: Conclusion

Conclusion: Writing a Killer Software Engineer Resume

As we wrap up this comprehensive guide on creating a software engineer resume, it’s important to remember that your resume is a vital tool in your job-seeking arsenal. A well-crafted software engineering resume is not just a list of your experiences; it’s a reflection of your proven track record, your ability to develop new features, and your aptitude for working in cross-functional teams.

Whether you’re drafting a professional resume for a new job or updating your existing one, consider each section an opportunity to best showcase your skills and experiences. From choosing the right functional format to highlighting your leadership skills and people skills, every detail counts. Your software engineer cover letter, paired with a compelling resume, can set you apart as the best candidate for software engineer positions.

Remember to include a professional summary that succinctly presents your relevant experience and relevant education. It’s a great way to catch the eye of job seekers and demonstrate that you understand what makes a successful career in this field. Incorporate hard numbers to quantify your achievements, as these are often a deciding factor for recruiters. Pay special attention to the latest technologies and trends reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and others, ensuring that your skills are up-to-date and relevant.

A functional resume that highlights user experience, showcases your software developer resume as a testament to your capabilities. Using a software engineer resume template can be a good starting point, but always personalize it to reflect your unique strengths and experiences. This approach is a great way to ensure that your application stands out in a competitive field.

In conclusion, crafting a software engineer resume is about more than just listing your experiences; it’s about creating a narrative that shows why you are the ideal candidate for the role. It’s about proving that your skills, education, and experiences make you uniquely suited for the job at hand. With special attention to detail, a focus on the latest technologies and trends, and a clear demonstration of your achievements and capabilities, your resume can be the key to a successful career in software engineering.

Remember, the software engineering field is ever-evolving, and so should your resume. Keep it updated, relevant, and ready to impress at a moment’s notice. Good luck!

About Me

I am an engineer with 15+ years in the tech industry, including roles at Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. I've been a Software Engineer, Product Manager, and Technical Program Manager. I also have an MBA from Kellogg School of Management with Majors in Finance and Marketing.

What drives me? A passion for empowering engineers to achieve Financial Independence and Retire Early (FIRE). I reached FIRE, when I turned 40 years old. Whether it's through personal finance strategies or career insights, I'm here to guide you on this path. Have questions or need advice? Feel free to reach out!

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