Let’s start with the bad news, if you’re a New or Junior Developer, your resume probably sucks. Now for the good news, it’s not your fault. Your resume sucks because you are at the very beginning of your career and you have little to no professional experience.
Most Hiring Managers want to see two things on a resume:
- Relevant professional experience.
- Knowledge/Experience with the related technologies required for the position.
For most new Developers you can only check off one of those, which leaves a noticeable gap on you resume. Unfortunately, you’re stuck in a catch 22. You need to get professional experience before your resume starts to become attractive.
So what can you do? First, accept the fact that your resume sucks but also accept the fact that so does everyone else’s at your level. Once you’ve come to terms with that, start working on the things that are in your control.
Clean and Readable
As I mentioned previously, when someone is reading your resume they are only looking for a couple things. So make those things easy to find and in a nice clean readable format.
For example, if you’re listing tech that you have experience with, organize them into easy to read categories.
Flask, React, Larval, Spring
is easier to grok than:
And makes it easier for the person reading your resume to pick out the key words that they are looking for.
Also, use easy to read fonts, colors, and formats. Do some google searches to find resume templates that read well. There’s a lot of options out there so there’s zero reason your resume should look like something out of the 80s printed off a dot matrix printer. This applies x10000 for front-end developers.
Play To Your Strengths
Everyones resume has strengths and weaknesses. The key to writing a solid resume is highlighting your strengths and downplaying your weaknesses. A good example of this is education. If you have a Computer Science degree from a reputable college, you should keep that relatively high in the flow of your resume. If you don’t have a relevant formal education, you want to push that section of your resume closer to the bottom.
If you have any relevant work experience you want to keep that near the top. If you only have one or two entries for your work experience, you’ll want go into a good amount of detail describing your accomplishments and responsibilities.
If you have no relevant work experience, you’re going to want to highlight your personal projects instead. Portfolio pieces are great and come second only to your work experience.
Build Your Portfolio
Speaking of portfolio pieces, make sure you have some. If you lack relevant work experience the next best thing is personal project work. Even if you have work experience but it doesn’t include the tech listed in the job application, it’s probably a good idea to put something together that does.
For example, when it came time for me to start looking for a new contract earlier this year I knew I wanted to be qualified for positions that required React experience. I didn’t have any professional experience with React, so I just started building something using it. When it came time to interview, I had a nice portfolio piece that used React and was able to talk in depth about the framework because it was fresh in my mind.
Build literally anything for your portfolio. The people reading your resume don’t care if it’s a Todo list or the launch software for the next SpaceX rocket. Okay, maybe they’d care about that last one a little more, but I digress. The point is, beef up that portfolio! It’s the only substitute for real world experience that you have.
Leave Your Persona To Your Cover Letter
There’s not much to say about this other than leave the details about your self for your cover letter or your interview. Your resume is about your professional skills, not the type of music you listen to or even which programming language you think is best.
Embrace the current status of your qualifications. This means that you need to recognize that your are what you are, a New Developer. It’s not a bad thing by any means and we’ve all been there. Don’t try to fluff up your resume into something it’s not. I promise that anyone who is familiar with the industry will recognize your attempt at doing this immediately and it will come off as disingenuous.
What you can do is express your enthusiasm, curiosity, and willingness to learn in your cover letter and during interviews. Anyone with half a brain doesn’t expect an Entry level or Junior Developer to know everything. They just want to know that you are interested and capable.
Remember, the beginning of your career is the shortest part. Your primary goal is to get over this first hurdle. Once you gain experience it becomes progressively easier to get hired. Eventually you’ll get to a point where you have to start leaving things off your resume to make room. Then, all of a sudden, you become the one saying no, and I promise you it feels amazing.
Good luck! If you’re having trouble getting hired, hit me up on Twitter. I’ve provided peers with notes on their resume and will do the same for active members of the community.
Looking for Tech Jobs? Check out my website ObviousJobs.com for jobs with full salary disclosure.