• Mariane Bekker

5 Tips to Make Your Resume Stand Out

Updated: Jul 25, 2021


High-growth startups care about your ability to have a positive impact on the growth of the business. Your resume is a chance for you to showcase that you understand how your work impacted the success of the business, your expertise in specific technologies, and your ability to work collaboratively with others. Here are 5 tips that will make your resume stand out to employers.

Tip #1: For every role, focus on your accomplishments and the impact you had on the business

It's always best to highlight a few of your most impressive accomplishments rather than try to provide a complete list of all the things you've done because a complete list will take attention away from those few impressive ones. You can always highlight additional relevant work you've done when you get a chance to speak with the company during interview rounds.


You can structure your accomplishments in three parts: what was the deliverable, what was your role in it, and what was the positive impact on the business. Here are a couple of generic examples with a color scheme [what I did] [what the deliverable was] [what the impact was]...

  • Led development of a cost management and insights product, which was used by Fortune 500 customers to analyze and predict spend.

  • Worked on a team of 4 engineers to rebuild the user onboarding flow, resulting in a 17% conversion increase for new user registrations.

  • Architected and developed an API integration layer for the CRM product, which led to onboarding over 20 partner organizations and expanded our addressable market.


Tip #2: Trim down the list of technology


Let's face it, you can't be an expert in 5+ programming languages. The most frequent blunder on resumes is listing all the programming languages and tools you ever used regardless of whether you have a deep understanding of each. This is a red flag for hiring managers because they will assume that you're not an expert in any of them and instead have a shallow understanding of some. If you do add a particular technology to your resume, make sure you understand the inner workings in case you get asked about it. Instead of adding a technology paragraph, just add a technology section under each of your roles so that hiring managers get an accurate picture of your experience.


Also, you can remove IDEs, software management platforms (i.e., Jira or Pivotal Tracker), and version control platforms (i.e., git, svn). These are just tools that can quickly be learned and, therefore, will not add any value to your resume.


Before:

Technology: HTML, CSS, Javascript, Java, C#, Git, Jenkins, Sublime, Eclipse, Windows, OSX, Jira, Pivotal Tracker, Rest API, Soap API, XML, JSON, MySql, Oracle, MongoDB, Postgres


After:

Technology: React, Node.js, Postgres, Docker, AWS


Tip #3: Standardize your job title


In companies, conventions on titles and seniority vary widely, and a "software engineering L2" at one company may mean something else for another company. However, some patterns exist for IC roles and leadership roles. First, chose the stack you work on, such as Full-Stack, Front-End, Back-End, DevOps, SRE, Machine Learning, Data Scientist, etc.


If you are an individual contributor, chose a seniority level that describes your experience, such as software engineer (junior to mid-level), senior or staff (leading projects).


If you have direct reports, chose between Engineering Manager, Director of Engineering, VP of Engineering, and/or CTO.


Tip #4: Structure your content to be more readable

The most relevant information for a hiring manager is your experience, so move that section to the top of your resume. Replace long paragraphs with one or two sentences because hiring managers will look at your resume for 30 seconds or less, so it's unlikely they will read a wordy section. You can omit interpersonal skills because a manager will assess those once they interview you, so it doesn't add value to your resume. An example of a brief and compelling description of your background could be: a Full-Stack Software Engineer with over 5 years of experience building SaaS applications. Looking for a remote role in a growing fintech startup.


Tip #5: Add a project section if you are switching between roles or have less than a year of experience


If you are a junior engineer or want to switch to a different engineering role, i.e., Backend Engineer to Machine Learning, contribute to an open-source project or build your own and add it to a project section. Although having work experience is the best way to demonstrate your knowledge, adding a project portfolio will show you're ambitious, love learning, and are passionate. Ideally, each project will have a description, a list of technologies used, a GitHub link, and a live demo link.


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