How To Write a Great Engineering Resume
I’ve looked at tens of thousands of engineering resumes over my career, and am still reviewing 10’s a week. There is one big mistake I see in 99% of resumes, regardless of whether the person is 1 month or 10 years into their career : they don’t say what their impact was.
Most resumes talk about what tasks they performed, not what outcomes they achieved.
Here are some examples :
Collaboratively designed and developed a Java web application suite for managing distributed workloads
This is something anyone from an intern to a principal engineer, from a weak engineer to a strong one, could write about themselves
Play vital role in developing different e-commerce features across the
stack ranging from mobile app to web API and various microservices.
This is a long way of saying ‘full-stack’ but it tells me nothing more (‘vital’ means nothing without context)
Collaborated on the latest incarnation of the global component library
Making technology and process recommendations
With what goal and outcome?
I think you get the idea, but most resumes I see are literally full of vague statements like this.
So what is a better approach? Try to quantify the impact of your work — here are some things you may have achieved that you can quantify :
- Reduced : defect rate, outages, deployment time, ticket open time, downtime, latency, costs, time between releases, MTTR, churn, compilation time, build time
- Increased : performance, revenue, uptime, scalability, efficiency, MTBF, customer satisfaction, users, retention
These kinds of quantifiable impacts are harder to document early in your career so you should focus on examples of : learning quickly, taking initiative, taking on more responsibility, demonstrating ownership or leadership
As well as quantifying impact, try to quantify your environment to give me some picture of the challenges you were up against :
- how many DAUs/MAUs users does your app have?
- how many API calls a day does your SaaS service deal with?
- how big is the team you manage?
- how many customers do your systems service?
- how many GB/TB of data do you ingest per day?
As well as quantifying things, try to give the reader a picture of the most difficult engineering challenges you’ve faced and the most complex business problems you’ve built software to solve.
It’s hard to quantify everything on your resume — for things where you are describing what you did, try to phrase them in a way where it makes clear how those things were valuable or representative of skills/achievements that separate you from other candidates.
This kind of reflection and analysis about your work can take a lot of time, but it will pay itself back many times over.