Creating a software engineer resume is much like writing code. You want to ensure that everything is clean, readable, professional, and, above all, that it works.
And while you’ve probably written thousands of lines of code, chances are you don’t have much experience building resumes. That’s exactly why we’ve compiled this thorough yet beginner-friendly guide.
We’ll take you step-by-step through the process of crafting a job-winning application document. You’ll learn everything, from adding your name to your software engineer resume to fine-tuning the details.
Without further ado, let’s jump in!
For optimal results, use the chronological format for your software engineer resume.
Mandatory sections for your resume are contact information, a resume objective or summary, your work history, education, and skills.
Optional sections are certifications and awards, languages, conferences and publications, and hobbies and interests.
You can stand out from the competition by writing a cover letter that matches your resume and is tailored to the job you’re applying for.
What is the Right Format to Use for a Software Engineer Resume?
There are three proven resume formats that can help you organize the information in your document based on your expertise and other circumstances. These are:
A chronological resume format puts the most weight on your most recent professional accomplishments and goes backwards from there. It’s made for people who possess some work experience, as it mostly focuses on emphasizing work history. However, because of this, it’s not the best option for people who have little to no professional experience.
If you have gaps in your employment or want to emphasize your skills rather than your work history, you should use a functional resume format. It conceals a lack of experience by highlighting your abilities instead.
Lastly, seasoned professionals could take advantage of a combination resume format. As a hybrid of chronological and functional formats, this one puts your skills in focus and substantiates each of them with extensive work-related accomplishments.
A visual aspect of your resume is just as important as its contents. You want a document that is clean and easy to read and that provides a lot of information without looking messy and cluttered. Since recruiters often merely skim through resumes until one grabs their attention, you don’t want yours to be too long—one page should be enough.
To create a perfect layout, you should:
Resume Layout Guidelines
Choose an appropriate font for your resume and use 10–12 pt size for regular text and 14–16 pt for section headings.
Ensure readability with 1.0 or 1.15 line spacing.
Set margins on at least 1 inch on all sides.
By playing with those values, you can increase the amount of content that fits your one-page software engineer resume or boost its readability.
Unless you know design, be careful about using color or flashy graphics. It’s often better to stick with black text on a white background.
What Sections Should a Software Engineer Resume Contain?
Before we get into the specifics, let’s outline which sections your software engineer resume needs to have. Here are the mandatory ones:
Resume summary or objective
After you’ve included those, you can complete your resume by inserting some of these optional sections in it:
Certifications and awards
Conferences and publications
Hobbies and interests
Line these up on your resume, and you’ll know you’ve included everything recruiters want to see. But if you don’t feel like creating a software engineer resume from scratch and you want to save yourself some time and trouble, you can always use our resume builder.
It comes with professional presets where you simply fill in the blanks with your information, and your resume is good to go. Not only that, but you can switch styles, layouts, fonts, and colors with a single click! That way, you can have your document ready in minutes while being able to adjust it on the fly.
Software Engineer Resume Contact Information
Contact information is a regular section that every resume starts with. Adding it to your resume is fairly simple—you only need to include the following information in your resume header:
Contact Information Essentials
Your full name
Link to your GitHub, LinkedIn, or Stack Overflow profile (optional)
Here’s an example:
Contact Information Section Example
+ 810 503 4309
Your title needs to be professional and aligned with the job description. Steer clear of witty titles—it’s much better to introduce yourself as a “Software Engineer” than a “Computer Guru.” Also, you should maintain the same level of professionalism when you’re inserting your email address into the section.
Note that you should only include your full address in a resume if the job posting asks for it or if you’re applying for a position at a company that is located in another country.
Software Engineer Resume Objective or Summary
The best resume in the world won’t achieve much if nobody looks at it. That’s why you need a catchy introductory paragraph at the top of your document to grab recruiters’ attention. Depending on your situation, this will either be a resume objective or a resume summary.
A resume objective is written by candidates with modest professional experience. Its goal is to portray you as a good candidate by emphasizing your key skills and career goals. However, if you have a long professional history with impressive achievements, you should opt for a software engineer resume summary.
Junior Software Engineer Resume Objective
Even if you don't have any work experience, a good junior software engineer resume objective will make you look like a competent professional. In addition to mentioning your key skills and career goals, you can leverage accomplishments obtained during internships, volunteer work, college projects, freelancing, and more. Here’s a good example of such an objective:
“Motivated recent graduate with a B.S. in Computer Science looking for a junior position of a software engineer at [your company]. Experienced in coding, testing, and troubleshooting. As an intern, helped boost sales at [previous company] by 17% by improving software to match users to relevant products. Looking to take on challenging projects and advance through targeted mentorship.”
Let’s compare that to a bad example:
“Computer Science graduate looking for a junior position. Eager to learn and improve through your mentorship program.”
There’s nothing wrong with being eager to learn and progress. However, you need to show your potential employers that you already have some skills and knowledge worth building upon.
Software Engineer Resume Summary
Let’s take a look at a resume summary that has everything from the candidate’s crucial skills to their impressive achievements. Here’s a good example of what it looks like when a seasoned professional puts their best foot forward:
This resume summary has it all. It paints a picture of an experienced, driven, and competent candidate who knows exactly what they want and brings a lot to the table.
For contrast, let’s see a bad example:
“Competent software engineer with years of experience working on demanding projects. Knowledge of multiple programming languages and software production processes. Looking to leverage my skills in a senior position.”
Software Engineer Resume Work Experience
The main goal of your software engineer resume is to show recruiters your ability to do the job. One of the best ways to do that is to describe your most prominent professional endeavors in a compelling work experience section.
Let’s start with the optimal way to structure this part of your resume. First, you should include information about previous job positions you held in the following order:
Company name and location
Dates of employment
Responsibilities, achievements, and results
While you should definitely mention some responsibilities you had in your previous roles, focus more on achievements and results—that’s what sparks recruiters’ interest. When listing these, you can use bullet points—they convey more information while simultaneously being shorter than blocks of text.
Include 3–5 of the most impressive achievements from every previous job, and use numbers and percentages to quantify the results and make them more concrete.
Another way to grab the reader’s attention is to utilize memorable action verbs and power words. Most candidates use all the same terms—for example, “created” or “managed.” Why not stand out from the competition by using arresting synonyms such as “architected” or “steered?”
Software Engineer With No Experience
By following the general tips we previously outlined, you can create a professional work experience section even if you’re making a software engineer resume as a fresher. There are always some activities you can leverage as a substitute.
For example, you can mention challenging college projects where you obtained impressive results, along with volunteer experience, freelance work, and much more. Let’s see an example where the candidate leveraged their internship:
No Experience Resume Example
Software Engineer Intern
E-comm Co Pittsburgh, PA
Performed application testing and fine-tuning to reduce bug occurrence by 9%.
Recommended algorithm changes that resulted in a 7% increase in online sales.
Collaborated with a cross-functional team under the supervision of a senior engineer on the development of a full-stack e-commerce system.
Senior Software Engineer
Senior software engineers often have a long professional history under their belts. If that’s the case, you want to show as much impactful and relevant work and as many impressive results as possible.
However, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t mention everything you’ve ever done. A summer gig from a decade or two ago doesn’t add value to the resume of a senior software engineer, as it doesn’t really highlight the abilities that can help in this field.
Here’s an example of a solid work experience section for senior software engineers:
Experienced Software Engineer Resume Example
Senior Software Engineer
ProSoft Group Seattle, WA
Overhauled UIs to increase views by 42% and decrease debugging time by 59%.
Improved automation by 29% by refining algorithms pertaining to marketing and sales.
Mentored and coached 5 front-end development interns each summer.
ProSoft Group Seattle, WA
May 2014–February 2018
Developed and maintained cloud-based solutions to help Fortune 500 companies increase their productivity by at least 35%.
Analyzed programming documents to refine code and make it clean and scalable for 20+ projects.
Spearheaded the adoption of lean principles, increasing overall efficiency and effectiveness by 67%.
Software Engineer Resume Education Section
The education section is there to complement your work history and further substantiate your skills. It should generally come after your professional experience and be adjusted in relation to it. That also means that you should keep it brief if you have a rich work history and vice versa.
Here’s what information you should include when writing this part:
What to Include
The institution that issued it
Years of studying
Check out an example:
Education Section Example
Bachelor of Science, Computer Science
University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI
Your list of accomplishments can include anything from a good grade point average (3.5 or higher) to volunteer work, student exchange programs, extracurricular activities, and more.
If you include more than one degree, list the highest one first. Also, omit your high school diploma unless it’s your only one.
On the flip side, add an unfinished degree by setting an expected graduation date and marking it as such. You can also entirely omit the graduation date and write “current” instead if you’re in the middle of your studies.
Software Engineer Resume Skills
Adding skills to your software engineer resume is about more than just creating a list of your abilities after your education section.
You should start by researching the job posting. That will help you find out which skills employers are looking for. Including those will help you get their attention and pass the ATS scan easier, too.
Your skills should be inserted into a section of their own, but you should separate hard skills from soft skills since they are quite different in nature.
Hard skills are job-specific, and they are taught and learned from credible sources. These can often be easily verified with diplomas and certificates, too.
Here are some of the hard skills that software engineers could add to their resumes:
Proficiency in programming languages represents a subset of hard skills. You could consider adding some of the following to your resume:
Soft skills aren’t specific to software engineering. These are personality traits and interpersonal abilities obtained through communication, teamwork, relationships, and more.
Some of the soft skills that are most sought-after by hiring managers are:
Software Engineer Resume Optional Sections
Optional sections allow you to add valuable information to your software engineer resume that doesn’t belong to any mandatory section. You can use these to personalize your document and further stand out from the crowd.
Certifications & Awards
Certifications represent a credible way to highlight specialized knowledge in the field, while awards show that you’ve obtained outstanding results in a specific industry. Both portray you as a competent individual who strives to do more than the bare minimum.
It goes without saying that you should only list relevant certifications and awards. Add this section after all the mandatory ones, and be brief. Here’s an example:
Certifications & Awards Example
“Certified Software Development Professional” - Association for Computing Machinery
“Certified Software Engineering Professional” - International Association of Software Architects
“ACM Software System Award” - ACM
This section can even be mandatory if your future job requires communication with clients and coworkers from other countries. Even if that isn’t the case, knowledge of foreign languages is always impressive.
List all the languages you speak based on your knowledge level, which can be:
Language Proficiency Levels
Conferences & Publications
Conferences show that you’re an active member of the professional community, and they are especially valuable if you’re new to the industry and lack a work history. On the other hand, publications—especially academic, peer-reviewed ones—portray you as a person of authority. They mean that you have outstanding knowledge, recognized by others in the field.
You can include these in your resume to display drive and motivation and show that you’re serious about your career and networking. Also, make sure to mention specific speeches or workshops you participated in.
Hobbies & Interests
This section lets you connect with potential employers on a more personal level.
Since you want to join their team and feel welcome, don’t be afraid to show that there’s an exciting, passionate person behind your resume. Keep this section brief, but feel free to “geek out” and mention something you’re interested in that’s completely unrelated to the position you’re applying for.
Should You Submit a Cover Letter With Your Software Engineer Resume?
For the highest chances of success, you should submit a cover letter that is tailored to the job posting along with your resume. Personally address the recruiter and use 3–5 brief paragraphs to explain what you can bring to their company.
The cover letter should also describe your skills and achievements in more detail, which should encourage recruiters to reach out to you to discuss potential cooperation.
Expert Tips for Creating a Software Engineer Resume
To help you fine-tune your software engineer resume to perfection, we prepared several expert tips to finalize this comprehensive guide:
Make sure your resume is one page long, and use proper formatting options to ensure a clear structure.
Ask a friend to take a look at your resume and help you proofread it before submission since you don’t want any mistakes or spelling errors.
Keep mentioning your skills throughout your resume. Connect them with relevant achievements in your resume summary or objective, work history, or education section to make them more concrete.
Make the links in your contact information clickable. This shows your attention to detail and allows recruiters to easily access your GitHub, LinkedIn, or Stack Overflow profiles.
Use a cover letter to give recruiters more information than what’s in your resume. Don’t just repeat the same skills and achievements, but include new ones.
Well, now you’re adept at writing both code and resumes!
If you believe in the power of automation, you can have our resume builder do the heavy lifting for you and help you craft a job-winning document in minutes. On the other hand, you’re more than competent to write a software engineer resume from scratch, if you’re up for a challenge. In any case, you’ll have an interview or two lined up before you know it!