Resumes for software and tech positions are more than just a list of projects and coding languages. Recently we spoke with a long-time IBM employee about what he looks for when he’s reading resumes, and these are his tips.
1 Emphasize the entire Engineering Process in resumes and interviews
- Gather requirements from clients/stakeholders
- Development (including programming)
- Maintenance and documentation
2 Go beyond a programming skill set
- Companies can pay for programmers in other countries for much cheaper than what they’re hiring for in the US, so additional skills need to be demonstrated
- What was the purpose of the project or system?
- What was your role?
- What results did you personally achieve? What results did the project achieve?
- What innovations did you bring to projects?
- Don’t start accomplishment statements with “used”
- Start with big picture/purpose info then moving into technical
- Ex. “Improved…performance and scalability by implementing…”
- C++ and Shell skills are almost a given if you have a computer science or electrical and computer engineering degree
- Bigger companies like to see leadership skills
3 When describing projects on a resume
- Specify where a project was done (course project, internship, et al.) and with whom
- Go beyond basic, common projects such as a Tic-Tac-Toe game
- Emphasize the quality of a project and experience by providing lots of detail. Don’t try to fit more projects onto your resume at the cost of details. In this way, quality is better than quantity.
- Title projects to convey more about the purpose than about the technical details
- Statements at the end of projects can summarize that “the system resulted in…”
4+ Other resume tips
- Results are more important than activities
- Engineers are detail-oriented, and so should be their resumes
- Passion needs to come through, mostly through the details and skills beyond programming
- They’re looking for people who want to contribute to the success of the company, not just looking to learn
- Remove basic coursework and feature only specialty courses