It’s back to school season, and for college seniors, it’s time to start thinking about what you’ll be doing after graduation. Apart from your diploma, there’s one other sheet of paper that could make or break your chance at your dream job: your resume.
Resumes are the fastest and easiest way for candidates to convey their experience to recruiters and hiring managers. It’s your chance to make a good first impression. And while it’s a great idea to stop by your Career Services Center for resume review, our Talent Operations Manager, who looks at literally thousands of entry-level resumes each year, has some CS-specific advice to help your resume stand out.
Make It Readable
Readability is the most important step you can take toward a successful resume. You may be brilliant, but if your resume is sloppy, that’s how you will appear to be. Your resume should easily convey as much relevant information as possible:
- Formatting: keep fonts and alignment consistent; your formatting should demonstrate a clear hierarchy of information.
- Grammar: eliminate spelling and grammatical errors, and maintain consistent verb tenses.
- Length: for entry-level positions, limit your resume to a single page. Include the important things, and remove the fluff.
- Negative Space: ensure there’s plenty of space between resume sections. Remember, white space is your friend; a solid wall of text is not.
If your experience is limited, you should think in terms of all relevant experience—not just professional experience. Any development work can be relevant. Think beyond internships and include class projects, personal projects, or side projects. Did you build an application for your club Frisbee team or volunteer organization? Great! Add that on. If you have links to live work, a portfolio, or a GitHub, include those too.
Include Relevant Courses—Not Course Numbers
Recruiters and hiring managers will want to know if you’ve taken specific courses like Web Development, Database Architecture, or Object Oriented Principles, but they’ll likely have no clue what CSE320 means. When listing courses, the title is sufficient. Course numbers will only confuse readers, and take up valuable space.
Don’t List Technologies You Barely Know
Including an extensive list of technologies on your resume is a simple way you can help recruiters scan the document for relevant skills, but it can backfire quickly if you list something that you don’t actually know. If you wouldn’t be able to explain where or how you used a given technology, don’t include it on your resume.
Don’t Use Arbitrary Scores or Ratings
While a bar graph outlining your skills might be aesthetically pleasing, it is ultimately a waste of space. Scores and ratings like this are far too subjective to be taken seriously, so everyone who looks at your resume is going to have a different idea of what 7/10 in CSS means. Recruiters and hiring managers understand that applicants with only 1–2 years of experience are not experts.
So when it comes to your skill level, show, don’t tell. If you’re given the chance to complete a coding exercise as part of your application, use it as an opportunity for your expertise to shine.
Bonus Tip: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help!
As a final note, you have so many expert resources available to you that often go under-utilized, whether it’s online or through your university. You can also consult non-expert resources like friends, family, classmates, or roommates to proofread your resume with a new set of eyes. You don’t need an expert to see if you misspelled “expereince” or tell you if your font suddenly gets bigger mid-sentence.
Designing and developing a solid resume of your skills and experience takes time, but implementing the tips above will help you stand out (for the right reasons). If you want to work for a company that encourages learning, continuous improvement, and helping each other succeed—and you’ve QA’ed your resume—check out our open positions and apply today!