If you are looking to uplevel to a new software engineering role, you must prepare yourself for the most tedious step of the process — creating your software engineering resume.
No matter how tedious, it’s a step you cannot skip. After all, your resume can make or break your chances of getting shortlisted for the interview. And one of the most important sections in your resume is the “Skills” section — create a separate section to highlight your software engineering skills on your resume. This section is great to include exact-match or closely related keywords and optimize your resume for an ATS.
Although there is a growing demand for software engineers, there is also a shortage of skilled and qualified software engineers in the job market. Highlighting in-demand skills will immediately make your resume stand out.
In this article, we’ll help you understand how to include the right skills to make your resume stand out. Here are the tips we’ll cover:
- Include a Balanced Mix of Hard and Soft Skills
- Highlight Demonstrated Skills
- List Only Relevant Skills
- List Skills in the Order of Proficiency
- Limit the Number of Skills
- Place Skills on the First Page
1. Include a Balanced Mix of Hard and Soft Skills in Your Resume
Before getting into the “how,” let’s look at what types of skills you can include in your software engineer resume:
- Technical Skills or Hard Skills: These are job-related skills, i.e., skills that are required to or enable you to perform a job. It includes your tech knowledge and tech skills, programming and coding skills, software development skills, product knowledge, etc.
- Non-Technical Skills or Soft Skills: These are intangible, interpersonal, or behavioral skills that facilitate your job performance. For example, leadership skills, communication skills, creativity, innovation, problem-solving, critical thinking, etc. However, as an experienced senior software engineer such as an engineering manager, soft skills are necessary to land a high-level job.
Your skills and work experience are the two critical pieces of information recruiters immediately look for on a software engineer’s resume. Unlike your work experience, you can just mention your skills; you don’t need to describe them in detail on your resume.
Want to know how to list your work experience in your software engineer resume? Read this article to find out.
Software engineers tend to focus only on their technical capabilities. However, most employers expect software engineers to possess both hard and soft skills. Hard skills show your ability to do the job, while soft skills show your compatibility with company culture.
For example, a software engineer with excellent programming skills and strong communication and leadership skills will be perceived as an applicant who can do the job and add long-term value to the company.
Showcasing both hard and soft skills gives you a competitive edge.
Soft skills are must-have skills if you’re applying for a senior-level position. Soft skills are good crossover or transferable skills.
2. Highlight Demonstrated Skills Throughout Your Software Engineer Resume
You can highlight your skills in different sections of your resume.
For example, if you are applying for a leadership position, highlight instances from past jobs where you demonstrated leadership abilities. Include cases where you led or initiated a project, provided technical direction, resolved conflict, etc. For example:
- Led a team of software developers and testers
- Managed key products development processes
- Coordinated with cross-functional teams
- Resolved complex technical issues
Showcase skills through your projects as well. For example, showcase a project using technology beyond the scope of your regular day job or a new advanced application of an existing technology.
You can also showcase your skills through professional certifications or awards. For example:
- Received the XYZ award for excellence in cross-functional leadership
- Certified expert in Data Science from Stanford
3. List Only Relevant Skills in Your Software Engineer Resume
As with all other information on your resume, list only the most relevant skills. Read the job description and identify stated skills and related skills. Look at resumes of engineers in similar positions to identify the right skills to include in your resume. Also, research the company’s products and culture to identify relevant technologies and skills.
Avoid listing outdated technologies and skills even if they are your strengths. Instead of showing depth, it will make your profile appear irrelevant.
Include skills that are in-demand or in short supply in the software industry today. This will grab the recruiters’ immediate attention and give you a hiring edge. It will also help in compensation negotiations later in the hiring process.
4. List Skills in the Order of Proficiency
Don’t create a long list of skills to stuff keywords or improve ATS compatibility. If you’re not familiar with a skill or cannot speak confidently about it, don’t include it. Alternatively, state your level of expertise for your skillset.
State your strongest skills first. Don’t misrepresent your skillset in a bid to get noticed by recruiters. It’s advisable and common practice to indicate your level of proficiency in each skill.
5. Limit the Number of Skills in Your Software Engineer Resume
Up to 10-15 relevant skills is the norm for a software resume. This should capture both core skills and related skills, and hard skills and soft skills.
Listing too many skills can create the impression that you have a lot of breadth but little depth and vice versa. The skills listed should provide adequate insight into your capabilities without taking up too much space on your resume.
6. Place Skills on the First Page of Your Software Engineer Resume
Skills can be placed before the section “Work Experience” or after, depending on how much focus you want drawn to your skills.
If your resume runs longer than a single page, ensure you place your skills on the first page. Avoid burying skills at the bottom of the page on a single-page resume unless they are not relevant for the job or not impactful.
If your experience section runs long, and you also want to draw attention to your skills, place skills at the top of your resume. Skills can be listed horizontally to accommodate more skills and save space.
We hope these tips gave you a better understanding of how to include skills in your software engineer resume. “Work experience” and “projects” are two other key sections that can help you get shortlisted for the job of your dreams. To learn more about how to list these, read
- How to List Experience on a Software Engineering Resume
- How to List Projects on a Software Engineer Resume
Ready for Your Dream Software Engineer Job?
If you’re looking to uplevel and land your dream job at a FAANG+ company, your preparation must cover all ground. Not only should you have a stellar resume, but you also need to have an application strategy, interview prep plan, and salary negotiation strategy.
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