Software engineers, according to Gayle Laakmann McDowell, author of ‘Cracking the Coding Interview,’ need to pay particular attention in the hiring process on how they write their resumes, according to her post on Forbes.com, “What Are Common Mistakes That Applicants Make When Writing Their Resumes for Tech Companies.”
Even though her overview is written with the tech applicant foremost in her mind, her tips do apply across the board; furthermore, she focuses on what she classifies as “the most common serious mistakes” in writing the resume.
Before you get too deep-in-the-weeds in a detailed resume, take to heart her pithy reminder that “resumes are not read; they are skimmed for about 15 seconds;” furthermore, a screener is unlikely to read the entire piece.
That said, here is a summary of the most common missteps in writing the resume:
- “1. Long Resumes:” Short and concise with no more than 2 pages is her advice.
- “2. Paragraphs/Lengthy Bullets:” Readers abhor paragraphs…and don’t use more than 1-2 lines in the bullet copy; “…ideally, no more than half of the bullets should be 2 lines.”
- “3. Team/Group Focus:” Take credit up front for the projects you worked on, designed, created, etc. Leave out the team association, the reader is interested in “you.” Here it’s all about “accomplishments and achievements.”
- “4. Messy Resumes:” She believes software engineers should not be creating “their own templates…If you’re not good at design, why are you doing this?” Keep your pages uncluttered and easy to read. McDowell has no problem with using a well-designed template, one with columns, which makes it easier for the reader to scan important info.
- “5. Listing Responsibility instead of Accomplishments:” Break down the responsibilities and then use bullets. Pick out 3-5 accomplishments in the roles you’ve chosen to highlight, and repeat for each role or assignment.
- “6. Leaving out Cool Stuff Because It’s Not ‘Resume Material’: The takeaway in all the material you might be considering for your resume comes down to this: “start thinking about if something makes you look more or less awesome.”
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