How to Make a Web Developer Resumé

According to an article by portfoliotips.com, Why Your Resumé Won’t get you Hired as a Web Developer, “Your resumé and cover letter are not what’s going to get you an interview. Employers judge your initial application based on the quality of your portfolio and online footprint.”

Wait, what? And here’s another shocker:

You shouldn’t spend too much time on your cover letter, because it will probably just be ignored anyway.

Yep, it’s fair to say that a lot of the traditional wisdom about jobs (spending tons of time crafting a perfect cover letter, yada yada…) just doesn’t apply for developers. People who review applications for developers told me that they would only briefly glance at a cover letter, if at all. If you’d like to hear more about what those recruiters had to say, check out my interviews with a lead developer and CTO.

So what does matter when you’re applying for a dev job? Your work! Be prepared to show off the projects that you’ve taken on (also, be sure to get involved in lots of awesome projects). Link to your GitHub account, your personal website, and any other live examples of your work. This is worlds more important than anything you can explain in a few paragraphs.

-Melissa Suzuno’s article, 5 Not-So-Hidden Secrets About Working as a Web Developer

Make a Portfolio First

Your portfolio is the first thing potential employers will look at when considering you, so it needs to be a real reflection of your skills and yourself.

-“12 Things You Must Do to Land a Junior Web Developer Job”, SkillCrush, https://skillcrush.com/2015/04/09/land-junior-web-developer-job/

Clearly, having a good web portfolio is possibly even more important than the resumé itself. It shows what the applicant can actually do and how they do it. So before you even write a resumé, have the portfolio completed first*!

“Your resumé and cover letter are not what’s going to get you an interview. Employers judge your initial application based on the quality of your portfolio and online footprint.”

Why Your Resumé Won’t get you Hired as a Web Developer, portfoliotips.com

*Learning will be ongoing. But don’t go crazy from worrying about it.

Research Potential Jobs

In order to create a good resumé, it is a good idea to look at actual job ads, especially if the experience is limited. Look at anything – even for the ones that are not available in your area. This will help you get a feel for what to look for and what is required for similar jobs.

Developajob.com provides details on how to Become a Front-End Web Developer and how to Become a Back-End Web Developer, listing the traits that make the position a good fit. Skillcrush also has an article entitled 10 Jobs You Need to Know About When You’re New to Tech that describes a few of the best agency jobs for beginners, along with describing the job itself, average salary, common qualifications, along with a concluding bits of information about the job under “Is this the career path for you?”. This list serves as a reference guide that is both an overview and summary of many of the main web-related jobs that currently exist.

  1. Visual Designer
  2. Copywriter
  3. Web Developer
  4. Web Designer
  5. Front-End Developer
  6. Content Marketer
  7. Researcher
  8. Illustrator
  9. QA Analyst
  10. Data Analyst

(Source: 10 Jobs You Need to Know About When You’re New to Tech Skillcrush)

Some Background Information

jobs-edited-500-opt

(Image credit) [originally featured from: Not An Imposter: Fighting Front-End Fatigue]

“Keep in mind that job ads tend to list more (sometimes WAY more!) requirements and “nice-to-haves” than are really expected from candidates. Never hurts to ask, right?! Don’t let this discourage you though. If you can handle most of what they’re looking for, you’ll probably be at least considered for the role.”

-“12 Things You Must Do to Land a Junior Web Developer Job”, SkillCrush, https://skillcrush.com/2015/04/09/land-junior-web-developer-job/

Creating The Resumé

From a web development standpoint, the most important areas to focus on are the following: “previous work and internships, school, degree (probably in that order).” (How to Get a Front-End Developer Job, Interview with Micah Jaffe, CTO of Fair Loan Financial)

Previous Work And Internships

Experience comes first. Go ahead and move that “Education” down a click. After a few years of work, your recent experience is more relevant than your major or your GPA, and you want your work to be the first thing potential employers see.”

-“12 Things You Must Do to Land a Junior Web Developer Job”, SkillCrush, https://skillcrush.com/2015/04/09/land-junior-web-developer-job/

No need to list education first! When it comes to web development, it doesn’t even belong there. In fact, degrees don’t matter, either and here is why:

Sure, if you majored in computer science and got some impressive skillz as a result, that’s super. But if you have the determination and the stick-to-itiveness to teach yourself how to code, that’s more important than any degree.

Mike Feineman, lead developer at social media agency Room 214 says, “Self-taught programmers have a better drive, and are passionate learners. In other words, exactly the kind of people I want on my team.” So go out there and get coding!

-Melissa Suzuno’s article, 5 Not-So-Hidden Secrets About Working as a Web Developer

Plus, considering how technology is always changing, interest to learn is actually a valued trait in this field.

“… I expect college hires to not come in with an immediately useful skill set, so I look for sharp enthusiasm for the company or industry.”

(How to Get a Front-End Developer Job, Interview with Micah Jaffe, CTO of Fair Loan Financial)

“In general, good candidates keep a conversation going, aren’t attempting to nail what feels like the right answer first, fast. Thoughtful discourse is a winner even if it’s wandering into a blind alley. Backtracking and recovering are important skills. Smart questions about the business are awesome. Debates in the interview are not.”

(How to Get a Front-End Developer Job, Interview with Micah Jaffe, CTO of Fair Loan Financial)

And along with enthusiasm, what else should web development students being doing? In an interview with Micah Jaffe, CTO of Fair Loan Financial concerning How to Get a Front-End Developer Job, answers that thought:

What steps would you recommend a student take to best prepare for a career in this field?

Learn humility. Because you can be hired anywhere as a software developer does not make it itself a vital component of being good at your job. Fifteen+ years in Silicon Valley have given me some archetypes to work with and prima donnas are ones to avoid.

Software development is team driven. It could be entirely anecdotal but I’ve found smart kids who have had to learn how to work as part of a team elsewhere (sports, music, etc.) fit faster and require less hand-holding.

Learn hierarchy. Even in a “flat” environment, giving respect earns respect. Honesty and severity do not need to share the same emotional investment.

Network early, often. Don’t live in a cave. Who you know helps you all the time whether it’s working through a gnarly programming problem or finding your next job.

Keep learning. What you know for what you need to get done can often shift dramatically even in a year. Being good at and specializing a skill set can keep your paychecks fat for four to five years, but that doesn’t mean it will keep you happy or fulfilled for the long run.

So keep learning AND…

Focus on the fundamentals has always been my mantra. If you can build good sh!t and solve problems then that’s all that matters, how you solve them (the tools) has and will always change. – Not An Imposter: Fighting Front-End Fatigue

Describing Job Experience

So again and again, it is stressed that experience and job skills gained from actual experience is the most important part of a resumé for a web developer. Do not make experience listed in a resumé a “regurgitation of your job description – In most cases, recruiters care less about what you did day to day (like answer phones and email) and more about what you accomplished over time (like increased customer satisfaction 20%).

45 Things You Might Have on Your Resumé (That Need to Be Removed) – themuse.com

Instead, focus on accomplishments:

Pick a few statements to take one step further, and add in what the benefit was to your boss or your company. By doing this, you clearly communicate not only what you’re capable of, but also the direct benefit the employer will receive by hiring you.

45 Things You Might Have on Your Resumé (That Need to Be Removed) – themuse.com

Make sure all of the experience on your resumé is updated. Add any awards you’ve received, new skills you’ve taken on, articles you’ve published, or anything else awesome you’ve done.

45 Things You Might Have on Your Resumé (That Need to Be Removed) – themuse.com

As a web developer, projects are the main accomplishments. In Why Your Resumé Won’t get you Hired as a Web Developer, portfoliotips.co suggests giving the following details:

List out each of the projects that you completed in your resumé, or describe them when talking about past positions. Explain your role on the project, what parts of the work you completed and the results of the work (i.e. X installs, Y new users). At the end of this, include a link to the live project, a blog post about it, an online portfolio entry, or a page with screenshots of the work.

Additionally, when it comes to school-related web projects or especially internships, you still may be able to at least include that work in a portfolio. If you learned and applied something from it, it can potentially be worth sharing and even resumé material.

Job Titles and Sectioning

This might also come a surprise, but according to Melissa Suzuno’s article, 5 Not-So-Hidden Secrets About Working as a Web Developer, job titles also don’t matter:

Every web developer I spoke with told me the same thing—no one has an official title. Titles just aren’t that important in their departments or even their companies.

What this means for you is that when you’re looking for a job, you don’t really need to look for any fancy-pants titles. Just stick to simple things like “web developer” and you’ll be golden.

This also means that the structure of many engineering or web development teams is relatively flat. Just remember, as Micah Jaffe, CTO of FairLoan Financial, reminds us in his interview, a flat structure doesn’t mean you can dispense with respect and courtesy to your coworkers.

Sectioning

For clarity, it is a good idea to keep the overall style of a resumé simple:

Each section should be labeled clearly and professionally. Although it may be tempting to label your work experience as something more creative, the classic “Work Experience” is a good option. If you want to highlight a specific type of experience like customer service, a label such as “Customer Service Experience” could also work. Just keep in mind that simple headings make your resumé more readable.

Career Edge 5x Resumé, Networking, and Interview Skills Course, edx.org

The approach described above displays all work details into one section, which keeps the format simple. However, it is also pointed out that creating an additional, more specific label has benefits because it separates the relevant information into a better place where it cannot be missed. Here are two more examples of such applications for listing job skills:

Consider adding a qualifications section. (Perhaps in lieu of your now-deleted “Career Objective?”) This should be a six-sentence (or bullet pointed) section that concisely presents the crème of the crop of your achievements, major skills, and important experiences. By doing this, you’re both appeasing any applicant tracking systems with keywords and giving the hiring manager the juicy, important bits right at the top.

45 Things You Might Have on Your Resumé (That Need to Be Removed) – themuse.com

 “If you have lots of skills related to a position—say, foreign language, software, and leadership skills—try breaking out one of those sections and listing it on its own (“Language Skills” or “Software Skills”).”

https://www.themuse.com/advice/45-quick-changes-that-help-your-resumé-get-noticed

Working in multiple jobs within the same organization via a promotion can make sectioning skills all the more important. In Adrian Granzella Larssen’s article, 2 Jobs, 1 Company: How to Show Multiple Positions on Your Resumé, tips are provided as to how to show such advancements within a company look like a good thing, instead of some sort of hard to read and complicated list.

What Education Not to Include

If you’re more than three years out of college, remove your graduation year. Recruiters only really want to know that you got a degree, and you don’t want them to inadvertently discriminate based on your age.

45 Things You Might Have on Your Resumé (That Need to Be Removed) – themuse.com

Unless you’re a recent grad, GPAs aren’t applicable to most job search settings. Instead of using space to highlight your school accomplishments, focus on what you’ve done since then. If you did astoundingly well in school, use terms instead of numbers, like “summa cum laude” or “with Honors.”

-“12 Things You Must Do to Land a Junior Web Developer Job”, SkillCrush, https://skillcrush.com/2015/04/09/land-junior-web-developer-job/

References

The phrase, “References upon request” is not necessary to include on a resumé:

Two reasons:

  • The people reading your resumé know. They don’t think you’ll refuse to provide references. They’re not sitting there going Phew! They HAVE references, they’re just not HERE.
  • It sounds pretentious, and that line takes up valuable real estate.

-“12 Things You Must Do to Land a Junior Web Developer Job”, SkillCrush, https://skillcrush.com/2015/04/09/land-junior-web-developer-job/

Demonstrate Up-to-Date Tech Skills

It is a waste of resumé space to list basic computer skills on a resumé. In fact, it could do more harm than good:

These days, employers expect proficiency in word processing, typing, and Internet use. Listing outdated skillsets can give an employer the impression that you’re not up to speed.

If you need to brush up on tech skills and aren’t sure what to highlight, try this: Instead of dating yourself with lines like “proficient in Excel,” try talking about your experience in data analysis.

-“12 Things You Must Do to Land a Junior Web Developer Job”, SkillCrush, https://skillcrush.com/2015/04/09/land-junior-web-developer-job/

Examples of more modern skills (related to web development) that are better to mention on a resumé include things like these:

  • Web design / UX / Photoshop
  • Version control (Git / GitHub)
  • Cross-browser compatibility
  • Responsive web design
  • CSS preprocessors like Sass or Less
  • Frameworks like Backbone.js, Angular.js, or Node.js, etc. or Ruby on Rails
  • A CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress

-“12 Things You Must Do to Land a Junior Web Developer Job”, SkillCrush, https://skillcrush.com/2015/04/09/land-junior-web-developer-job/

Create a Brand

Finding ways to stand out from other applicants is extremely important. In SkillCrush’s article, 12 Things You Must Do to Land a Junior Web Developer Job, it is recommended one definitely should “create a custom personal logo to use across your documents” as a means of personal branding. Finding ways to show branding is so essential because:

Your online footprint is part of your personal brand. Your brand doesn’t just mean the colors you’ve selected for your website. It’s the way someone feels about you when they view your application. If your application looks sloppy and rushed, the employer is unlikely to feel excited to work with you, expecting that you produce sloppy work. If your application is bursting with awesome projects that you’re passionate about, then a reviewer is going to at least want to speak with you to find out more.

Why Your Resumé Won’t get you Hired as a Web Developer, portfoliotips.co

Create a Story

Telling a story can not only shine through in a cover letter, but also in the resumé. Limit the actual number of job positions listed to 4 or 5 per section when creating a story in a resumé. Too many points might cause things to be too hard to follow if too much is being discussed.

The key is to cut off your resumé when the jobs stop telling a story. For example, the restaurant you opened 10 years ago before changing careers isn’t part of your “career story” today. If you want to bring up older work history, feel free to do so in the interview.

The Ultimate Guide to The Perfect Resumé, Skill Crush

Below are some story-friendly elements that can potentially be used in a resumé. Just make sure to link to them appropriately:

Definitely include (if you have them)

  • Your portfolio. If you don’t have a portfolio you really should, it doesn’t need to be fancy. A simple static HTML page will do, showing screenshots and an overview of projects you’ve worked on.
  • Recent projects. For each include a screenshot, live example (if possible), link to source code (if public), paragraph explaining what the project is, and what you did on it (keep this part as brief as possible).
  • Open source projects. Links to your own projects that you’ve open sourced, project that you’ve worked on as an employee, or any other OS projects that you’ve contributed to.

Other things you might want to include

  • Blog posts. These are great for judging your ability to communicate.
  • Stack Overflow. Or activity in another relevant community i.e. /r/webdev, codepen, dribbble.
  • SlideShare. Any presentations, including Meetups, conferences, or presentations that are a work in progress.

Why Your Resumé Won’t get you Hired as a Web Developer, portfoliotips.

Résumé Layout

Look at your resumé “above the fold.” In other words, take a close look at the top third of your resumé—the part that will show up on the screen when the hiring manager clicks “open” on that PDF. That’s what’s going to make your first impression—so make sure it serves as a hook that makes the hiring manager eager to read more.

45 Things You Might Have on Your Resumé (That Need to Be Removed) – themuse.com

Use Bullet Points

“Since employers will likely be scanning your resumé, format your words to pop out at the reader. Instead of big blocks of text, use 4-7 bullet points to describe each section of work experience.”

-“12 Things You Must Do to Land a Junior Web Developer Job”, SkillCrush, https://skillcrush.com/2015/04/09/land-junior-web-developer-job/

Begin bullet statements with verbs. Use a variety of verbs throughout your resumé. For current jobs, use the present tense; all previous jobs should use the past tense. Make sure these verbs are active. For example, “Processed,” is a good way to start a bullet statement. On the other hand, “Was responsible for processing,” is not active, so you shouldn’t use it. Some powerful verbs include:

Analyzed

Collaborated

Conducted

Controlled

Coordinated

Created

Designed

Developed

Established

Evaluated

Executed

Generated

Implemented

Improved

Increased

Launched

Led

Maximized

Organized

Prepared

Quantified

Reduced

Secured

Strengthened

Source: Career Edge 5x Resumé, Networking, and Interview Skills Course, edx.org

Keep it Short!

A resumé should be just one page long. It should be easy to skim and “showcase the most important information.” –The Ultimate Guide to The Perfect Resumé, Skill Crush

The most important and hardest part of creating a resumé is pruning it down to the most essential information. The best resumés actually DON’T include a record of your entire history—they highlight the most relevant information for the specific industry and role you’re applying for.

The Ultimate Guide to The Perfect Resumé, Skill Crush

Different Position, Different Resumé

Going back to the web development thought that “titles don’t matter”, flexibility is also something that must shine through a resumé:

Never limit yourself to an industry because you feel limited by your skill set. Organizations need talent in a variety of areas. Just because you haven’t heard of a position doesn’t mean it’s not out there. And if it’s not out there, feel free to create a resumé for it!

Career Edge 5x Resumé, Networking, and Interview Skills Course, edx.org

This requires a bit of extra work, but candidates who tailor their resumés to specific positions are more successful job-hunters than those who send a generic resumé as a part of all their applications.

Career Edge 5x Resumé, Networking, and Interview Skills Course, edx.org

“Instead of thinking of your resumé as one document, think of it as a template that you tweak and cater to each role you apply for. That means you won’t always feature the same work history or other information.”

The Ultimate Guide to The Perfect Resumé, Skill Crush

Aside from actual resumé content, creating separate resumés for various situations can also be useful when submitting applications under different formats, such as email, online, or via applicant tracking system. Additionally, a link to a resumé on an about page of a portfolio is a great way to make an increased online presence along with examples of your best work.

Make sure the resumé you share online isn’t editable — save it as a PDF instead of a .doc. Some people can’t open .docs, and it’s also more professional to share a PDF.

The Ultimate Guide to The Perfect Resumé, Skill Crush

Watch Out For Abbreviations

Find any acronyms, and write out the full name of the title, certification, or organization. You should include both, at least the first time, to make sure the recruiter knows what you’re talking about and so an applicant tracking system will pick it up no matter which format it is looking for. For example: Certified Public Accountant (CPA).

45 Things You Might Have on Your Resumé (That Need to Be Removed) – themuse.com

Formatting Numbers

Quantity

In the spirit of providing a lot of information in a short amount of time, try adding percentages to your resumé. “Increased conversion rates by 15%” sounds a whole lot more impressive and memorable than “Improved conversion rates.” You don’t have to be exact, but make sure you’re telling the truth!

Show me the numbers. Well, the numerals.

Go back to those numbers and change them to numerals. “30% traffic increase” pops out on the page more than “Thirty percent traffic increase.” Plus, using numerals saves space.

-“12 Things You Must Do to Land a Junior Web Developer Job”, SkillCrush, https://skillcrush.com/2015/04/09/land-junior-web-developer-job/

Word Choice

Using buzzwords, poorly worded, overused, or funny-sounding language can affect how seriously a résumé is taken. Below is a list of the 10 worst and 10 best resumé terms. Not all of these words listed at first glance may even seem obviously bad either. For example, while being a team player is normally a good thing, it is actually listed as one of the worst resumé words to choose from.

The Worst Resumé Terms

  1. Best of breed
  2. Go-getter
  3. Think outside of the box
  4. Synergy
  5. Go-to person
  6. Results-driven
  7. Team player
  8. Hard worker
  9. Strategic thinker
  10. Detail-oriented

The Best Resumé Terms

  1. Achieved
  2. Improved
  3. Trained/Mentored
  4. Managed
  5. Created
  6. Influenced
  7. Increased/Decreased
  8. Negotiated
  9. Launched
  10. Under budget

Even within the job industry there can be language to avoid. Melissa Suzuno in her article 5 Not-So-Hidden Secrets About Working as a Web Developer, cautions to be careful about how you word things because “Perhaps an HR person wouldn’t necessarily care that Dev referred to jQuery as a programming language, but since Mike is a developer, this inaccuracy bothers him.”

Words With a Negative Connotation: Even if you mean them in a positive way, like “met aggressive sales goals,” research has shown that words like problem, mistake, and fault can have a negative impact on a recruiter’s perception of you.

Vague Terms: (Think professional, experienced, and people person.) They’re chronically overused, and we bet there’s a better way to describe how awesome you are. (Need help? Here are a few great cliché-free ways to show off your soft skills.)

45 Things You Might Have on Your Resumé (That Need to Be Removed) – themuse.com

Demonstrating enthusiasm in a resumé can also be accomplished through aspirational language:

In the heading of your resumé, and in your language throughout your application, for that matter, it’s important to use aspirational language.

Instead of describing yourself as you are now, use words to describe what you want to be. If you can imagine yourself in a new role, it’s much easier for hiring managers to do the same.

For example, instead of calling yourself a “web developer in training,” just call yourself a web developer. Or, if you’re moving out of customer service and into marketing, call yourself a “marketing specialist” rather than a “customer service manager.”

The Ultimate Guide to The Perfect Resumé, Skill Crush

Conclusion

Hopefully it is now clear that showing what you can do is everything for web development along with some high quality link juice, too. To reiterate one more time, here is what to expect and not to expect:

Here’s how you may think an employer reviews your application:

  1. Reads through your cover email, thinking that you’re a lovely, polite, articulate individual.
  2. Reads through your resumé, noting your X years of Rails or iOS experience and past experience at a startup or code school.
  3. If you’ve provided any links, takes a look through those.
  4. If they like what they see, calls you in for an interview.

Here’s how an employer actually reviews your application:

  1. Spends 5–10 seconds scanning your resumé and cover letter for any notable past positions or qualifications.
  2. Looks for links to your portfolio, projects and GitHub. If you don’t have these and have no impressive past positions/qualifications, your application gets archived.
  3. Reviews your portfolio or work links, if it’s sloppy, your application gets archived.
  4. If they liked your work, does a quick search for your personal site and Twitter to see if you’d be a good culture fit at the company. If they find any red flags, your application gets archived.
  5. If they like your work or think you show promise and would be a good fit at the company, they add you to their phone interviews shortlist.

Why Your Resumé Won’t get you Hired as a Web Developer, portfoliotips.com

Advertisements

About Juliette

Techy girl who also loves both technology and culinary arts. Programming and recipes are my thing! Currently learning about web development while taking a bite out of a delicious crusty piece of bread.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s