In an ever-expanding digital realm where long lines of complex code reign supreme, there’s a much simpler document capable of unlocking doors to career opportunities. A well-crafted computer science resume—much like a perfectly optimized algorithm—holds the power to impress your employers.
But unlike the years of learning and practice it takes to fully grasp a programming language, you need just a few minutes to master the art of resume-building. All it takes is one comprehensive guide that features everything from general rules to minute details and expert tips.
So, prepare your keyboards, and let’s embark on a resume-writing adventure!
The right resume format will help you convey the most information as efficiently as possible. The chronological format usually brings the best results.
Highlight your strongest features with a resume objective or summary to grab recruiters’ attention.
Showcase your work experience through achievements and results over responsibilities.
Tailor the skill section to match the requirements in the job ad.
Submit a cover letter that matches your resume to stand out among the competition.
What is the Right Format to Use for a Computer Science Resume?
Selecting the right format for your computer science resume is imperative, as it sets the foundation for the entire document. It represents the arrangement of sections and the information within them. That’s why you should pick one of these three proven resume formats used by most candidates:
The chronological resume format is by far the most popular. It puts your latest employment (and usually the most relevant one) at the top before listing the rest in descending order. This composition makes it favored by recruiters, ATS-proof, and solid for everyone with a steady work history.
The functional resume format helps inexperienced candidates emphasize their abilities by making their skill section the main part of the resume. The downside of this format is that it might not be ATS-friendly.
The combination (hybrid) resume format is tailored towards seasoned professionals or candidates who changed careers but have transferable skills they want to highlight. This format makes skills your main section but then backs each skill up with a list of relevant workplace achievements.
Sometimes recruiters spend less than 10 seconds skimming through a resume before moving on to the next one. That’s why—in addition to a clean format—you need a strong resume layout that will make your document visually appealing, simple to scan, and easy to read.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a graphic designer to achieve those goals. You can simply follow these guidelines:
Resume Layout Guidelines
What Sections Should a Computer Science Resume Contain?
Certain sections represent a staple of your computer science resume, and they are:
Mandatory Resume Sections
Additionally, you can customize your document by including some extra information and increase your chances of standing out by mentioning:
Optional Resume Sections
Awards and certifications
Hobbies and interests
We’re about to take a deep dive into how to create each of these sections. But before that, you should take a second to check out our resume builder.
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Instead of grabbing a Word template for a computer science resume to create a hit-or-miss document, choose one of our submission-ready samples. Adjust its layout, format, sections, color, font choice, and more; insert your information, and simply download a finished product!
Computer Science Resume Contact Information
Before you start talking about your skills and achievements, you need to introduce yourself to recruiters and let them know how to get back to you. That’s the purpose of the contact information section, which should go in your resume header and feature the following details:
As a computer scientist, you can also include links to your profiles at relevant websites such as Github, Stack Overflow, and others. It’s also common to add a link to your LinkedIn profile, as many recruiters use this network to look into candidates.
Lastly, while adding location is an outdated practice due to security reasons, you can include it if the job ad asks for it or if you’re applying for a position abroad and are willing to relocate.
Now let’s see all that in an example:
+ 989 248 2425
Computer Science Resume Objective or Summary
We briefly mentioned how recruiters sometimes skim through resumes until one grabs their attention. That’s why you need a strong opener at the top of your computer science resume in the form of a resume objective or summary.
This 2- to 4-sentence paragraph is designed to highlight a couple of your most impressive features. As an entry-level applicant, you’ll likely demonstrate your skills and motivation by writing a resume objective. However, if you have plenty of experience, you’ll write a resume summary to point out a few of your most prominent accomplishments.
Computer Science Resume Objective
Writing an impactful science resume objective is all about showing potential. You should emphasize the skills that are needed for the position that you’re applying for while displaying a drive to work for their company in particular.
Here’s a good example:
“Motivated recent graduate with a BSc in Computer Science looking for an entry-level position at [your company]. Adept at Java, Swift, and SQL with a focus on user-centered design. Seeking to leverage academic knowledge while working alongside experienced computer scientists on the road to becoming a full-stack developer.
And here’s what happens if you don’t provide any information of value:
“A recent graduate looking for their first job to gain real-world experience.”
Computer Science Resume Summary
To write an effective resume summary, make sure to include how much experience you have in the field and mention one or two exceptional achievements to substantiate all that. This will usually be enough to persuade recruiters to keep reading your computer science resume.
Here’s a well-written resume summary:
“Senior computer scientist with 11+ years of experience in machine learning. Notable achievements include saving the company $70,000+ in costs by implementing 11 machine-learning models and techniques. Seeking to leverage extensive knowledge of LSTMs and CNNs to successfully fill a senior position at [your company].
However, if you fail to provide any proof of your experience and ability, you’ll end up with a bland summary like this one:
“Experienced computer scientist looking for a senior position to apply my skills and knowledge and help your company grow.”
Computer Science Resume Work Experience
The work experience section is usually the focal point of a computer science resume. Let’s see how you can make it impeccable.
Let’s start with the fundamental parts of every work experience section:
The company and its location
Dates of employment (preferably in an MM/YYYY format)
Achievements and results
If you’re adding multiple previous jobs, you should do so in reverse-chronological order, placing the most recent employment first. However, focus on quality over quantity. An irrelevant job you had as a hotel receptionist during your college days likely won’t impress recruiters who are looking for a computer scientist.
Now, the most important part of getting your work experience right is your list of achievements and results. Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of it:
Emphasize exceptional accomplishments and remarkable results over common tasks and daily assignments.
Include 3–5 bullet points for each previous position. More recent jobs should feature more achievements.
Quantify your achievements with numbers to make them concrete.
Leverage catchy action verbs and power words such as “conceptualized,” “developed,” and “implemented” to make the whole section stand out.
Computer Scientist With No Experience
The important thing to understand when writing a computer scientist resume with no experience is that recruiters know what to expect from entry-level candidates. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed and worried about crafting a resume filled with impressive accomplishments.
Instead, you can showcase some of your school projects, internships, volunteer work, and similar activities.
Here’s a good example:
Computer Science Intern
Assisted a team of 5 senior engineers in developing a responsive web application, which increased user engagement by 17%.
Contributed to the troubleshooting and resolution of software issues, resulting in an up to 45% decrease in system downtime.
Developed automation scripts for senior computer scientists to reduce manual work by 35%.
Experienced Computer Scientist
As an experienced computer scientist, your goals should be quality and relevance. Don’t add dozens of bullet points just to fill the space on your resume. Instead, keep the position that you’re applying for in mind when listing achievements and focus on the most impactful and suitable ones.
Let’s see that in an example:
Led a cross-functional team of 13 engineers to develop a state-of-the-art machine learning algorithm, increasing the image recognition software’s accuracy by 31%.
Conceptualized and deployed a scalable cloud infrastructure to cut operating costs by 19% while improving system performance by 43%.
Revamped a data processing pipeline to enable real-time analytics and improve data ingestion time by 49%.
Computer Science Resume Education Section
The education section of your computer science resume is one of the simpler ones. It’s usually enough to briefly list the following details:
Education Section Mandatory Details
The institution issuing it and its location
Enrollment and graduation years
These elements are sufficient if you’re an experienced candidate. However, if you’re writing a computer scientist internship resume and you lack a decent work history, you can make your education section more prominent by adding optional details such as:
Education Section Optional Details
GPA (but only if it’s 3.5 and higher)
BSc Computer Science
University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Dean’s List (6/8 semesters)
Relevant courses: Data Structures, Computer Vision, Database Management Systems
If you’re still a student, you can add your degree by placing “current” instead of a graduation date. It’s even better if you have a planned graduation date, in which case you can add “expected” next to it.
On a final note, it’s acceptable to add your degree even if you quit your studies. You can do that by mentioning how many points you obtained toward your degree.
Computer Science Resume Skills
A distinct set of valuable skills can quickly set you apart from the competition. The trick is figuring out which computer science resume skills recruiters want to see and then proving them.
Properly adding skills to your resume is a three-step process:
Carefully read the job advertisement and research the company to find out which skills the recruiters and potential employers are looking for in candidates.
Create a dedicated skills section, and make sure to list your job-specific hard skills and interpersonal soft skills in two separate groups since they are quite different in nature.
Validated your key skills by adding them to your resume summary and work experience sections next to relevant accomplishments and results obtained.
Which hard skills you should add to your computer science resume will depend on the specific position that you’re applying for. Some of the most prominent computer science hard skills include:
Computer hardware engineering
Diagnostic software proficiency
Database management systems
Computer scientists often need to be highly proficient in various programming languages, frameworks, version control systems, etc. These include:
Soft skills are transferable between professions and much harder to prove than hard skills. That’s why you should only list a select few that recruiters want to see in candidates, such as:
Attention to detail
Computer Science Resume Optional Sections
You can dress up your computer science resume with some of these optional sections to greatly increase your chances of getting an interview.
Awards & Certifications
Awards and certifications represent a demonstration of excellence. They play a significant role in the field of computer science as they add credibility to the candidate’s skills, expertise, and accomplishments.
Whether you’ve been awarded for outstanding work or certified in certain areas of specialization, you can add this section to your resume to stand out among the competition.
Projects are particularly important for candidates who are writing entry-level computer science resumes. If you’re light on work experience, you can showcase some of the projects that you've worked on. That way, you’ll demonstrate that you’ve applied your theoretical knowledge and concepts to real-life scenarios.
In addition to representing a testimony of experience and validation of your skills, projects can also help you emphasize your collaboration skills.
Hobbies & Interests
A hobbies and interests section is a hidden gem in the world of resume-building. You can use it to portray yourself as a versatile and well-rounded candidate. Moreover, your hobbies and interests can indicate desirable soft skills and personality traits. Lastly, they are great conversation starters and a way to connect with recruiters during interviews.
Should You Submit a Cover Letter With Your Computer Science Resume?
A cover letter is a highly recommended document if you want to maximize your chances with recruiters and potential employers. The mere act of submitting it tells them that you’re someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty.
Similar to your resume, your computer science cover letter also needs to be brief, concise, and tailored to the position. You can use it to highlight a few more skills and achievements that you didn’t manage to add to your resume. It can also be beneficial to address the recruiter by their name, indicating you did your research and building rapport in the process.
Expert Tips for Creating a Computer Science Resume
Maximize the performance of your computer science resume with these expert tips:
Certain parts of your computer scientist resume (e.g., your job title and skills) represent keywords for the ATS. That’s why they should match the requirements in the job ad.
The focus of your resume summary or objective should be on what you can bring to the potential employer and what benefits they will get from your skills and experience.
You should optimize any profiles (e.g., LinkedIn, Stack Overflow, Github) that you add links to in your contact information section. Furthermore, you can make these links and your email clickable in the soft copy of your computer science resume.
Use a cover letter as an extension of your resume, and make sure that the two match instead of just repeating the same information in both documents.
As you can see, one of the most important things when it comes to writing a computer science resume is condensing your entire professional journey into a concise form.
However, remember that it’s not supposed to be a flat collection of bullet points but an engaging story of accomplishments and aspirations. It’s your opportunity to leave a lasting first impression and position yourself as a skilled, competent, and passionate individual.
So, combine this newfound knowledge with your honed problem-solving prowess, and don’t forget to let a touch of your personality shine through. Good luck, and may your career in computer science follow an exponential growth path!