How To Craft The Perfect Web Developer RésuméAditya Sharma
Did you know that your résumé could be the reason that’s holding you back from that 150k+ job that you know you deserve? This guide is dedicated to all the web developers out there and will demonstrate how you can create a successful résumé that will get you more shortlists than you can fathom. If it’s a piece of paper that is standing between you and your dream job, it’s time to show who’s the boss.
Our guide to making a killer résumé will broadly talk about the following:
- Why Would A Web Developer Need A Résumé In The First Place?
- Résumé Format: Sorting Out The Key Elements Of A Web Developer Résumé
- Professional Summary
- Technical Skills
- Managerial Skills
- Professional Experience
- Education Section In A Web Developer Résumé
- Technical Projects
- Additional Sections In The Web Developer Résumé
- ATS Optimization
- Key Takeaways
- A Sample Résumé To Get You Started
Why Would A Web Developer Need A Résumé In the First Place?
I don’t need a résumé! I’ll have a job before I wake up tomorrow!
I sighed. He was a brilliant web developer and we both knew it. He felt he was wasting away his life and deserved something better — I agreed. He gave his two weeks’ notice and was under the impression that a new job as well as a better profile will just land on his lap.
But he had ignored that singular piece of document which has a track record of making or breaking people’s lives — the humble résumé.
As part of my job, I go through dozens of résumés on a daily basis. I had seen his résumé as well. I wish I had the heart to tell him that just being a kickass developer isn’t enough — you have to convince the same to the recruiter on a 1-pager. And while accomplishing a task like that is not rocket science, it’s not a walk in the park either.
Web developers know that a lot depends on networking and client recommendations, so a résumé usually takes a backseat in most cases. Couple that with a growing demand and you know there won’t ever be a shortage of projects.
So why to waste time on a web developer résumé? Let’s take a moment and study this graph below:
The data is taken from Indeed.com, and if you notice the trend in the past few years, you’ll observe two main facts:
- With the advent of web-based startups, the peak of web development was 5-6 years ago and has either been steady or in a decline.
- For jobs that require web development as the only skill, the demand is steady, as of now.
Additionally, going by Forbes’ analysis, fields like AI, AR and Data Science are the new up-and-coming stalwarts in the tech industry. Influencers and tech experts strongly believe that these domains have the ability to revamp the way we’ve been doing things until now. So while the demand for web developers is steady right now, the picture is not all rosy.
Sure, as a web developer, you are confident that you’ll never have a shortage of projects. You have a list of happy clients which you served in the past and you believe that their network is enough to sustain you. But if you look at the tech industry in general and see how trends shape up and die down at a breathtaking pace, you’ll realize that this approach is probably not the wisest one.
You think you’ll always have a job or a project because you specialize in something which is in huge demand, but how long do you want to be at the receiving end of client’s tirades? Wouldn’t you want flexible hours, remote work, or professional clients for a change who know what they want?
Wouldn’t you want to 1-up your game from an 80k job to a 150k+ profile?
That’s where your résumé comes in.
Believe us, we’ve seen how that single piece of a document has changed people’s lives — the individual remains the same, with his certifications, qualifications, previous profiles and what not, but just revamping everything about that individual on paper suddenly transforms the person himself.
We’ve seen it because we’ve done it.
And if the demand for web developers is there, you don’t think you’re the only one who noticed that, right? For every project that you willingly drop or miss, you’ll find ten developers who will pick it up before it even hits the ground. You have a fair idea of the cutthroat competition which is out there, but continue reading and you’ll find out that the competition is not even the tip of the iceberg. The actual recruitment process and the role which a résumé plays in it might be an eye-opener for you.
Which is why, without further ado, let’s dive in.
2. Resumé Format: Sorting Out The Key Elements Of A Web Developer Résumé
Broadly speaking, your web developer résumé will contain the following sections:
- Contact info
- Professional Summary
- Key Skills (Technical + Managerial)
- Professional Experience
- Extra: Social profiles
- Interests, Hobbies, Extra-curricular achievements (Optional).
How do you arrange all these sections? What’s the order that you are supposed to follow? Are all of these sections necessary?
That’s where understanding résumé layouts and formats becomes important.
A résumé is either Reverse-Chronological, Functional or Hybrid.
As the name suggests, it starts off by listing your current or last-held profile and continues from there until you reach the part about your ‘Education.’
- It’s ATS-friendly (more on ATS below) and allows you to emphasize upon your current work profile and achievements. It’s easy to create and is considered to be the standard format for most résumés.
- The only downside is that in case you are a frequent job-switcher, it might look bad on paper. There’s no way to hide career gaps in a reverse-chronological résumé.
Below is an example of the same.
2.2 Functional Résumés
It only lists the companies where you worked at without diving into the details of your actual work profile. Instead, you create a separate section in which you group all your points under relevant skills.
It can be used by people to hide gaps in their career trajectory, but we aren’t fans of this format, simply because you can merely disguise your gaps but sooner or later, it’s bound to show up. It’s always better to be honest, always.
Here’s an example of a functional résumé. If you’ll notice, it doesn’t allow the recruiter to see your career trajectory or how you evolved to reach where you are.
2.3 Hybrid (Combination) Résumés
This format is exactly similar to the reverse-chronological format apart from the fact that in the ‘Professional Experience’ section, the points are grouped by the sills that they represent.
A format like this allows the recruiter to scan relevant points only based on the skills they are looking for. If you can customize your résumé to the job description, you can direct the attention of the recruiter to where you want. This is the biggest advantage of using this résumé format.
Another subset of ‘hybrid’ résumés is where you extract all your achievements and create a separate section of ‘Summary of Skills.’ This allows you to create a highly targeted résumé, focussing only on the skills which you want to showcase to the recruiter.
You’ll find examples of both down below.
3. Professional Summary
We encountered innumerable people who spent countless hours and days polishing their ‘Résumé Objective’ section. Are you also one of them?
What is the difference between the Professional Summary and résumé Objective section? We like to misappropriate a JFK quote to answer all queries regarding this conundrum:
Ask not what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company.
Meet Vanessa. She’s the Head Recruiter at a top-notch IT firm and is now looking for an awesome web developer. Her email is flooded with résumés and they all look the same. She’s tired of seeing people listing out what they want — it looks more like a shopping list than a professional résumé. Surprisingly, all of them are ‘hard-working’ and possess ‘excellent communication skills’ and are ‘looking for a challenging leadership position’.
— yawn —
Then she opens your résumé which contains a crisp 4-5 line summary detailing your skills and how you plan to apply those skills for achieving organizational goals. You did your research where you identified high-priority needs of the company, and you’ve mentioned how you plan to address them through the skills that you possess.
She sits up and stops thinking about Game of Thrones for a second. She’s hooked and now wants to meet you in person.
Let us clarify that through an example. Check out a couple of professional summaries and try to see which one delivers greater impact.
Technically, there’s nothing wrong with this, just like technically there was nothing wrong with the Star Wars prequels. Now check this out:
5+ years experienced, dynamic and detail-oriented Full Stack Web Developer with a track record of spearheading teams to engineer user-centric solutions for achieving breakthrough efficiency and driving client satisfaction. Highly skilled in end-to-end SDLC and effectively prototyped 20+ product features annually for XYZ to achieve a 25% reduction in costs. Registered unparalleled customer satisfaction levels and received the 2017 Employee of the Year Award for achieving a record-breaking NPS score out of 300+ employees.
See the difference? If you’ll notice, the summary doesn’t include a detailed list of his technical proficiency. It’s better to reserve that for a separate Technical Skills section. The Summary is there to give a bird’s-eye view of your professional career and should be a reason for the recruiter to continue with the rest of your Résumé.
Additionally, in the first example, the summary ended with an ‘Objective’ statement which serves no purpose to the recruiter. But highlighting your achievements (in the second example) will make the reader pause…and if you manage to do that, congratulations — you are already one step ahead of a majority of applicants out there.
Are you wondering what the kind of professional summary listed above is a bit unreal? What if you are an entry-level Web Developer with no concrete achievement to boast of? What do you do then?
In that scenario, and only in that scenario, in the absence of any significant work experience, you can go for an Objective section in case of a Professional Summary. And there can be multiple ways of approaching the same.
Goal-oriented Web Developer with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and looking to enhance my professional experience with an IT company specializing in web development. Armed with a deep sense of responsibility and possessing very high levels of enthusiasm to give my 110% for any endeavor.
Right off the bat, it’s always better if the entire résumé is in third-person — that means no references to ‘I’, ‘me’ or ‘mine.’ It’s always ‘possessing a track record,’ not ‘I possess a track record.’
Additionally, the above summary doesn’t inspire confidence. You can be a fresher and also sound professional without looking like you’ll die of starvation if you don’t get the job. Here’s how:
Dynamic and detail-oriented Web Developer with a knack for conceptualizing and delivering elegant, user-friendly solutions effectively and efficiently. Possesses a track record of developing an e-commerce mobile app, a CRM online portal and a fully-functional website for a nonprofit working with underprivileged children. Armed with an extensive understanding of end-to-end SDLC and cloud computing. Regular participant and organizer of local hackathons and web developer meetups.
This only shows that you don’t need extensive experience with high-end corporates to make a killer professional summary. You only need to understand the motivations of the recruiter who’s hiring.
4. Technical Skills
Like mentioned earlier, for a technical résumé like that of a web developer, it’s better to reserve a separate section for all your technical expertise. But even in that scenario, there are ways in which you can optimize the space available to deliver greater impact.
Most web developer résumés that we see usually give a long list of their technical proficiency. In their quest to make the list comprehensive and all-inclusive, they often compromise on readability. Let us clarify that through an example:
|Apache Tomcat 6||Bitbucket||Git|
|Jira||Chrome developer tools||HTML5|
|Kendo UI||BootStrap||Mozilla Firebug (debugger)|
A layman would think that the skills are all neatly arranged — surely there’s no other way to make it even better, is there?
Well, as a matter of fact, there is. In case of any dilemmas, it’s always better to place yourself in the shoes of the recruiter and come up with ways to make the job of evaluating you even easier.
While there’s nothing wrong with the way the skills are mentioned above, there’s another way through which you can present the same information and make it look even more relevant.
Web Technologies & Frameworks: Angular 4, HTML5, CSS3.0, Kendo UI, PHP
Database and ORM: MySQL
Web Debug Tools: Mozilla Firebug (debugger), Chrome developer tools
Application/Web Server: Apache Tomcat 6
Versioning and other tools: Git, Bitbucket, Jira
Deployment Tools: Docker, Maven, CiCd, Jenkins
By merely assigning sub-headings to the skills that you possess, you made the recruiter’s job easier. Now she only has to scan the sub-headings to quickly find if what she’s looking for is there in your résumé or not.
5. Managerial Skills
Many web developers stop at ‘Technical Skills’ and continue with their ‘Professional Experience.’ True, for a tech profile, technical skills play a major role and acts as a foundation for whether or not you’ll be shortlisted or not.
But remember when we talked about the difference between an 80k profile where you are dealing with nonsense clients and a 180k+ profile with flexible hours? The ‘Key Skills’ section containing your managerial and leadership skills will play a critical role in bridging that gap. Web developers are a dime a dozen — from a recruiter’s perspective; it’s cheaper to just hire a freelancer for their development work, if that’s what they are looking for.
But they are not, are they? They are looking for a full-time profile. What do you think would be the difference between the two?
Companies aren’t just looking for a robot who can be programmed to do basic tasks. They are looking for future leaders who can take over a few years down the line. And it’s your task to convince the recruiter that you are such an individual. Any freelancer working on an hourly basis will possess the technical skills that you do. But it’s your leadership and managerial skills that will help you make it.
Coming to your non-technical skills, it’s always better if you prioritize hard, professional skills over soft skills like ‘communication’ and ‘self-motivation.’ Why? Simply because there’s no way to prove or quantify the same. But you can always add skills like ‘Issue Resolution,’ ‘Leadership’ or ‘Project Management’ and then proceed with showcasing the same in your ‘Professional Experience’ section.
A simple rule of thumb while mentioning your managerial skills is “Show, Don’t Tell.” It’s always better if you are able to substantiate the skills that you mention with concrete points down below.
Don’t just say that you are a leader. Show that you’ve led teams to achieve departmental goals.
Don’t say that you are good in negotiating. Show how your negotiation skills led an x% reduction in costs.
A few examples of managerial skills which you can include in your résumé are below.
|Front-End Development||Agile Methodology||Code Optimization|
|Documentation & Reporting||Requirement Gathering||UI Enhancement|
|Module Management||Issue Resolution||Stakeholder Management|
|Client Relationship Management||Project Management||Team Leadership|
Mention only those skills which you can elucidate in your résumé. There’s no point in adding a random list of skills which you’ll find insanely difficult to justify at the time of your interview.
How do you identify all those managerial skills which are relevant?
The ‘Job Description.’ That is your Bible for your entire résumé writing process.
Look for non-technical skills (both managerial and soft skills) and see if they can be included. Only add them if you think you can justify them, either in points below or at the time of your interview. Nothing will hurt your chances more badly than blatantly lying on your Résumé.
6. Professional Experience
How do you go about framing points for your résumé?
The ‘Professional Experience’ section is going to be the most critical section of your résumé. It’s the fuel of your car — the body and looks are alright, but the car won’t move an inch without juice. This section is that juice for your résumé.
A handy resource for you would be the ‘Job Description.’ Your task is to align the entire résumé along the lines of what the recruiter is looking for. Your résumé should look like it’s in response to the JD, that you possess the ability to resolve all the issues which are inherently mentioned in that document.
6.1 Master CV
A better (but tiring) way to proceed would be to make a MasterCV first. It’s a time-consuming process, but we can guarantee that it’s going to give you rich dividends for the rest of your jolly professional career.
We are assuming that you never actually got a chance to sit down with your résumé, to look at it and figure out what’s wrong with it and how it can be better. And it’s perfectly alright if that’s the case. Most people have that attitude when it comes to their résumé. It’s always a last-minute rush, which means that there’s almost always something that you’ll inevitably miss, that there’s always a chance that it can be made better.
MasterCV is how you avoid that situation, it’s an important piece in getting you that 150k+ profile. It’s basically a list of literally everything that you have ever done till date. And we mean everything.
A masterCV is for your own use. No one is going to see it. There’s no need to structure it or keep it to two pages — it can be a 10-page long list of bullet points consisting of every achievement (curricular, extra-curricular, professional, achievements around your hobbies or interests — you name it) in your entire life, or it can be full of deathly long paragraphs. The idea is to keep a single document containing all your achievements till date, and regularly updating it.
What do you think happens when you update your résumé in a last-minute rush? You only add those points which you are able to recollect at that moment. But if you think about it, your tenure at any organization must be filled with tiny milestones and achievements (i.e. milestones which get missed out when you update your résumé in a rush).
Once you have your masterCV ready, take out the JD of the profile that you are targeting and scan your masterCV for points which can be interpreted and rephrased along the lines of what the recruiter is looking for. The idea is to customize your résumé according to the job, and not send a standard résumé for any and all profiles that you come across.
As you continue to update your masterCV, years down the line when you’ll be applying for something else, you can again come back to that same document and pick out points for tailoring your résumé to that new profile.
6.2 Cause-Effect Relationship: The Princeton Formula To Rule Them All
Another thing to keep in mind is the cause-effect relationship. Most people find themselves at a loss when it comes to filling out actual points for the job which they were doing. They know what they did, but they can’t write it down in coherent points. When that happens, they resort to a typical JD for jobs like the one they themselves were doing, and then morph those points into their own résumé.
A fundamental thing which is wrong with this approach is that a typical JD is responsibility-based, while your résumé should be achievement-based. A JD contains a list of things which the recruiter expects a candidate should be capable of, while your résumé will contain your achievements around those responsibilities. There’s a stark difference.
The good thing is that a vast majority of applicants resort to this approach. So a tiny deviation from this well-treaded path will automatically elevate your chances of getting shortlisted.
How do you do that? By making sure that there’s a coherent cause-effect relationship in each point. A foolproof way to make sure that you are able to do that is the Princeton formula along the lines of:
A + P + R = A
Action Verb + Project + Result = Accomplishment
If you are able to incorporate the essence of this formula in all your résumé points, trust us, 99% of your job is done.
Most applicants either mention their responsibilities or their achievements. But this formula ensures that not only you mention these two parameters; you also detail the quantifiable impact of your achievements. Instead of wrapping your achievements around your profile, showcase the impact that you achievement had on the organization. When you do that, you instantly enhance your role from someone who just did what they were told, to someone who took ownership of their responsibilities and delivered an impact at the macro level.
An example of the Princeton formula in action:
Spearheaded a team of 5 Junior Developers to effectively execute 11 projects with 100% on-time delivery while achieving a cost-reduction of 20% and registering CSAT levels of 4.88/5.00
This point is so much better than a generic point along the lines of:
Worked on various projects to decrease costs and achieve client satisfaction.
A point like this clearly highlights the quantifiable impact that you were able to achieve. Beginning a point with an action/power verb (a list of which you can find in the Princeton document linked above, or you can simply google the same) instantly magnifies the impact of that point, as opposed to most other candidates who often tend to ‘manage’ everything.
That’s the kind of point which makes the recruiter pause, and believe us, when a Hiring Manager is going through dozens of résumés on a daily basis, it’s a superhuman task to make her pause and look at your résumé. Your task is to do just that, and that’s how you do it.
Another critical weapon in your arsenal to make a stellar Developer résumé is bucketing, or sub-headings.
Merely framing immaculate points will only get you so far. Let’s say you picked apart your entire experience in your previous profile and came up with this:
- Developing client-side libraries across both iOS and Android to enable usage of the offline sync feature for the app developer,
- Envisioned & developed the common network layer for Android to accomplish a reduction in the SDK size by ~20%,
- Commissioning the development of Logging Framework across all platforms including iOS, Android & Windows,
- Achieved the ‘Team Excellence Award’ & played a critical role in applying for a patent based on the logging library,
- Conceptualizing and developing a library for the company to reduce additional costs involved in using third-party libraries,
- Spearheading a team of ~20 to conceptualize and effectively implement the Mark for Upload feature for the company,
- Proposing a common network layer for all network calls to be used by the product to effectively optimize SDK size.
Sure, in their individual capacity, the points are meticulously framed and seem to follow the Princeton formula uniformly. But the entire work experience itself looks like a wall of text which will make the recruiter groan the moment she sees it. You don’t want that, do you?
Now look what happens when we take the same points and work our magic to make it a breeze for the recruiter, without changing a thing about the points themselves:
Team Management & Leadership
- Spearheading a team of ~20 to conceptualize and effectively implement the Mark for Upload feature for the company
- Commissioning the development of Logging Framework across all platforms including iOS, Android & Windows.
Library Management & Process Optimization
- Conceptualizing and developing a library for the company to reduce additional costs involved in using third-party libraries
- Developing client-side libraries across both iOS and Android to enable usage of the offline sync feature for the app developer
- Proposing a common network layer for all network calls to be used by the product to effectively optimize SDK size.
- Envisioned & developed the common network layer for Android to accomplish a reduction in the SDK size by ~20%
- Achieved the ‘Team Excellence Award’ & played a critical role in applying for a patent based on the logging library.
If that isn’t mic-drop stuff, we don’t know what is.
In a single instant, you transformed the entire professional experience by neatly arranging all the points into buckets or sub-headings. Consequently, the recruiter won’t have to go through the individual points — merely perusing through the buckets will serve the purpose. And to further sweeten the deal, you bolded relevant words and phrases to make the recruiter’s job even easier? That’s what you want, isn’t it? If you make the recruiter’s job easier, she’ll surely return the favor.
6.4 Professional Experience Section for an Entry-level Web Developer
But again, does the above point look a bit unreal? What do you do if you are a fresher with no significant professional experience to mention?
Believe us, possessing years of work experience is not the only way to showcase that you’ll be fit for the job. More than the achievement itself, if you are able to demonstrate that you have the right attitude, your job is done.
So how do you phrase your professional experience in a way that will make you stand in comparison to a Developer armed with a few years of experience?
- Include projects for which you freelanced in your career till date,
- Bolster your Github profile and code that you’ve posted there,
- Include all open-source projects you have contributed to,
- Mention any hackathons or local developer meetups in which you participated or helped organize.
PRO-TIP: If you are looking for a short-term solution to beef up your entry-level web developer résumé, just look up for some open-source projects online. You’ll find hundreds of projects to which you can contribute, so you can incorporate the same on your résumé.
Meet Chad, an entry-level web developer looking for a high-end profile. After hours of deliberations and brainstorming, this is what he came up with:
Entry-level web developer possessing a BA Degree in Computer Science and armed with an eager-to-learn approach where I can deploy my excellent development skills.
— yawning continues —
Since you know that you only get one shot at the profile of your dreams, why would you sabotage your chances if you can do this instead:
- Developed a webapp portal for an e-travel firm to increase the client’s sales by 48%,
- Enabled the Smiles Dental Clinic to measure patient satisfaction scores through an online form. Assisted in boosting CSAT levels by 7 points within 2 months,
- Independently developed a website for the local Baseball league championship to increase streaming sales by 50%,
- Created a webapp to facilitate easy donations through Facebook & Whatsapp for Friendicoes Shelter for the Homeless. Raised donation levels by 45% & helped rehabilitate 25 people from the street.
That’s Vincent. He knew he was stuck in a vicious cycle wherein he needed work experience to gain work experience. So he took matters in his own hands and scouted the digital space for any and every project that he could find. Within a span of 4 months, he executed 4 such projects, strengthened his résumé to make it at par with a professional developer, and is now leading a team of his own at a top-notch firm.
7. Education Section In A Web Developer Résumé
This section is often underrated by most developers. Shouldn’t the professional experience and projects be the focus on your résumé?
Yes. But that doesn’t mean you can scribble your educational qualifications on the back of a napkin and staple it on your résumé.
You can follow the conventional path and include your degree, college, and year of passing.
But remember. You only get one shot at this.
Let us clarify that through an example:
BA — Computer Science
University of Syracuse, ‘16
Um. Okay. Again, it’s not technically wrong. But try this:
BA — Computer Science
University of Syracuse, 2013-2016
- Utilized a deep-rooted passion for cloud technologies by contributing to the open-source AWS Project for New York University
- Wrote a column on ‘Is AI the Industrial Revolution of the 21st Century’ for the college magazine
- Developed the Salesforce Contacts mobile app to streamline operations & performed Jasmine Unit Tests in the TDD process
- Deployed the MVVM Architecture for boosting ability to build scalable apps & optimized usage of Pagination & Sorting
We don’t have to elucidate the differences, do we? The best part is that it’s easily doable. It’s not necessary that your ‘Education’ section should look like that — the points above are just examples. But if you sit down and brainstorm with yourself, you’ll definitely come up with a list of something which you can quantify and incorporate in your résumé — participation in clubs, internships, freelance projects, college competitions, publications… we can go on really.
8. Technical Projects
If you’ve been following our tips until now, you can include them all to make a brilliant ‘Projects’ section for your web developer résumé. Combining the Princeton formula with bucketing and bolding, this is what a sample ‘Projects’ section looks like:
A few obvious pointers that this sample highlights are as follows:
- For every project, include an ‘Environment’ subheading which lists out all the tools and technologies which were deployed for executing that project. If there are a lot, you can categorize them into further classes (like we did with the ‘Technical Skills’ section).
- A description of the company/client helps put the project in perspective. The idea is to showcase to the recruiter that you were working for a reputed company. You can include figures around number of employees, revenue, etc. to make sure it comes out like that.
- Industry standards dictate the location and time period to be aligned to the right, with the company and project title aligned to the left.
- Adding buckets or subheadings is an effective way to incorporate the skills and methodologies which the recruiter is looking for. You can scan the ‘Job Description’ for skills which the recruiter is targeting and phrase your points to ensure that the bucket (which goes on top of the points, meaning greater visibility) includes those skills.
- Try to reserve a separate ‘Key Achievements’ section for as many projects as you possibly can, with quantifiable impact to showcase the depth of your contribution.
9. Additional Sections In The Web Developer Résumé
To deliver the Oomph!-factor to your résumé, there are additional sections which you can incorporate. Recruiters know the cost of any hiring decision, and they know that if you are on-boarded, you’ll spend a greater part of your day with other team members. It’s important for them to know that you’ll gel along with the team — that’s where these additional sections come in.
You can include sections on ‘Extra-curricular Activities’, ‘Awards & Recognition’, ‘Hobbies/Interests’, and so on. It’s important to stay relevant even when you are working on these sections. Just saying you like to travel or play football won’t add any value to your résumé. Instead, quantifying your hobbies/interests will go a long way in ensuring that.
Web developers, in particular, can include their social profiles. This is a great guide containing sample developer portfolios that will inspire you to polish your own. A well-maintained Github profile, for instance, will signify that you are not a developer just because you have a degree — it means that you actually like your job and find it engaging enough to do in your free time as well.
This is a sample ‘Hobbies’ section, for instance, the likes of which we see a lot on a daily basis:
Reading, travel, photography
Surprisingly, a vast majority of applicants will have a ‘Hobbies’ section like this. This tells the recruiter nothing.
Now, check this out:
- Convener of monthly meetings of the Webber Society of California, with 800+ members in CA and 10,000+ pan US
- Photography: Owner and administrator of the Free Smiles Photography Page on Facebook with 7k+ likes
- Travelled to 7 countries in the last 12 months and documented the same on my travel blog (insert link)
Maybe you don’t own a photography page with 7k+ likes, and that’s okay. The idea is to quantify even your hobbies and interests, to give an idea to the recruiter as to what that hobby means to you. Most recruiters look for people who can have a life outside of the workplace and can maintain a healthy work-life balance. If you can’t elaborate on your hobbies or interests, better to avoid that section altogether than to include it and make it look like you just wanted to fill up space.
A ‘Portfolio’ section will do wonders for your résumé. You can find projects online which would only take a couple of hours — adding something like that on your résumé will instantly boost its value. You can’t attach a million lines of code in an Appendix to your résumé to tell the recruiter that you like to code. But a healthy portfolio containing a list of happy clients and projects successfully executed will bolster your profile.
10. ATS Optimization
Ah. The dreaded ATS. You might have only heard rumors or sordid tales of it, but what exactly is the ATS?
If you’re the Head Recruiter of an MNC that receives thousands of applications on a daily basis, what are your options? To personally go through all of the résumés? To hire a team the size of Denmark and have them scan résumés 24/7? Or, you know, get a software to do the job for you?
Applicant Tracking Systems work a keyword matching algorithm, wherein the software matches the résumé with the keywords present in the job description. Remember that one time when you sent a résumé to a company and never heard from them? Did you curse the recruiter after that, wondering why they couldn’t bother to send a standard rejection mail? Have you considered the fact that maybe no human recruiter actually got a chance to scan your résumé? What if your résumé was rejected by the ATS even before it landed on a human’s desk?
That happens more often than you think. The solution to that isn’t stuffing your résumé with keywords. Your task isn’t to beat the ATS alone — even if your résumé is parsed by the ATS, the recruiter will take one look and trash it even before you get a chance to blink.
This is a great tool to match your résumé with the JD which you are targeting. It will give you an ATS score depending on how many relevant keywords you used in the résumé against the JD. Moreover, it will give you a list of keywords which you can include to increase your score. A lot depends on which particular ATS that the company is using. Also, remember that the ATS, at the end of the day, is operated by a human recruiter. You can only guess which keyword the recruiter will look up on the ATS, but you can cater to as many keywords as you possibly can. just to be sure.
Scan the JD to get a list of keywords which are important to the company; additionally, you can paste the entire JD in a word cloud which analyses the frequency of words used in a text. Incorporate those keywords in an organic manner without making it look like you are being blatant about it.
Reminder: ATS is just a step in the entire recruitment process. You shouldn’t compromise meaning or authenticity at the cost of ATS optimization. It would be futile if the ATS is able to parse your résumé but the recruiter sitting behind a desk thinks the résumé itself was written by a machine.
11. Key Takeaways
To recap a few critical points that we touched above:
- A reverse-chronological résumé format is your best best. A functional or a hybrid (combination) résumé is not the best way to showcase your achievements with context and impact. A reverse-chronological résumé showcases your trajectory which gives a bird’s-eye view of your career till date.
- In case you are not an entry-level developer, go for a professional Summary section instead of an Objective section.
- Divide your skills into Technical and Managerial Skills. Group all your technical skills under relevant sub-headings to make the job of the recruiter (who will be a generalist and not a ‘techie’) easier. Prioritize professional skills (hard skills) over soft skills and try to elucidate the skills that you have mentioned in your ‘Professional Experience’ section.
A MasterCV is the ideal way if you want to break down your job-hunting process into something much more manageable — not just for your immediate requirements but for the long run.
Having a master document containing all your achievements till date will allow you to customize your job application, instead of sending a generic résumé for all vacancies.
And tailoring your résumé to the job application is how you beat a majority of other applicants.
- Keep the Princeton formula in mind (Action Verb + Project + Result = Accomplishment) while you are framing points under the ‘Professional Experience’ section. This allows you to establish a cause-effect relationship which can transform your entire application.
- Bolding and Bucketing (sub-headings) in your work-ex section will make sure you pass the 6-second test. You can use it to only highlight those achievements which you want the recruiters to notice before they dive down into your actual résumé.
- Go for additional sections (Hobbies, Interests, etc.) only if you think it will bolster your application, or if you can provide substantial details around the same.
- Once you are done, check the ATS score of your résumé against the job description for the profile which you are targeting to identify gaps and areas of improvement.
12. A Sample Résumé To Get You Started
Still have more doubts around the résumé-writing process? Want to share your experience of making your résumé or the job-hunt in general? Give us a shout-out in the comments and we’ll get back to you!
(ra, yk, il)
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