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We’re living in the digital age.
Everything that surrounds us is driven by computer programs and software. Whether we’re ordering pizza, posting on social media, or setting up a meeting with our coworkers, we rely on technology.
And it is you that makes the world go round!
Putting “I’m a programmer” in the email subject line should be enough to get you the job of your dreams, right?
Not at all.
There used to be a huge demand for programmers 10 years ago but that’s in the dim and distant past now.
Because computer programing can be done from anywhere in the world, a lot of major companies hire programmers from countries where wages are lower.
Employment for programmers in the next 10 years is projected to shrink at a devastating rate of 8 per cent. That’s your harsh reality.
The good thing is, those amazing unicorn companies that you’ve always dreamed to work with still need on-site programmers.
Unfortunately, thousands of candidates share that dream. To get a job with the best of the best, you’re going to need the best programmer resume in the pile.
Fret not, it’s not that hard to have one.
This guide will show you:
Here's a sample resume for a programmer made using our resume builder.
Want to save time and have your resume ready in 5 minutes? Try our resume builder. It’s fast and easy to use. Plus, you'll get tips and right vs. wrong examples while writing your resume. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume here.
Programmer Resume Example - See +20 resume templates and create your resume here.
Think about how you optimize websites, applications, or other programs.
What matters most for you?
Providing the perfect user experience.
You know that people don’t care enough to focus. If your product isn’t intuitive or if your website isn’t easy to skim, you immediately lose your audience.
Recruiters are just like any other group of users. They, too, want to find what they need and move on. So, optimize your professional programmer resume for the same kind of user behavior.
How to do it?
In a word: formatting.
Use the respected, elegant reverse-chronological layout.
It’s the gold standard of recruitment. It front-loads your strengths and shows the peak of your career at the top of the resume.
And it has another benefit:
A reverse-chronological programmer resume template makes the whole thing searchable.
Trust me, hiring is a hectic business nowadays. If the recruiters struggle to quickly scan your resume for relevant details, they won’t even take their time to hate it.
Writing a junior programmer resume with little professional experience?
The reverse-chronological format is still your best bet. You can make the most of it by doing two things:
ProTip: A programmer resume in PDF is probably your usual choice. PDFs are good because they keep the layout intact. But read the job description carefully to see if PDFs are accepted. If not - send your programming resume in DOC.
Want to learn more about the reverse-chronological programmer resume format? Read our guide: “Chronological Resume Template & 20+ Examples [Complete Guide]” Feel like you could benefit from highlighting your programming skills? See our guide on making a combination resume: “Combination Resume Template & 5+ Examples [Complete Guide]”
Picture a programming recruiter.
She’s sitting at her desk, scanning a load of 500+ resumes. She’s getting bored. They’re all almost identical.
Suddenly, she sees your resume.
She sits up. She’s engaged. She actually wants to read the whole thing.
How did you accomplish that?
By putting a carefully crafted introduction to your resume at the very top - a brief, sharp paragraph that showcases your strengths and proves that you’re just the candidate she’s been looking for.
This part of your resume is the first thing recruiters look at. If it doesn’t present you as one hell of a candidate, you can kiss your job goodbye.
Your opening paragraph will either be a resume summary or a resume objective.
Here’s which one you should choose:
Let’s see some examples of programmer resume summaries and objectives:
Here’s a sample programmer resume objective:
Computer Science BSc graduate looking for a job where I can leverage my knowledge of C++ and ASP.NET MVC architecture working with a highly effective team in the medical field.
Why is it so bad?
Like most others, this candidate wrote about what he wants from a job.
No one cares what you want. No one cares that you want to “leverage your skills working with a highly effective team.”
Your programmer resume objective is not a Christmas wish list.
Have a look at a good listing programmer resume objective:
Hard-working listing programmer with a flair for creating elegant solutions in the least amount of time. As a freelance programmer, created SAS datasets of clinical data and developed macro programs to improve efficiency and quality of data management for Takeda Pharmaceuticals. Looking to use my programming skills to help boost Piper Companies’ data management efficiency.
See the difference?
This one’s solely focused on the employer’s benefit, not the candidate’s personal gain.
Now it’s time to compare two examples of programmer resume summaries.
Here’s a sample C programmer resume summary:
Results-oriented C programmer with 8+ years experience developing, testing, and maintaining enterprise software applications. Designed and developed over 30 advanced applications from use cases and functional requirements. Investigated new technologies to make sure that XYZ Corp remained the leader in setting industry standards in past years.
Just perfect. This one’s sure to make the recruiters pick up their phones and call the candidate in for an interview.
Not awful, right? But it’s too general and doesn’t include any hard numbers.
The candidate from the wrong example just listed generic programming skills and duties. This sort of resume summary is just like everybody else’s. It’s not going to impress the recruiters. Rather, make them go “YAWN!”
Our resume builder (you can create your resume here) will give you tips and examples on how to write your resume summary or any other section. You can easily copy them straight into your resume - it will save you a ton of time.
Inside Uptowork's resume tool you will find tips and examples for your resume.
Hungry for more advice and tips on how to write a programmer resume objective or resume summary? See our guides: “How To Write A Resume Summary: 21 Best Examples You Will See” and “+20 Resume Objective Examples - Use Them On Your Resume (Tips)”
What can a programmer do in 6 seconds?
Not much, huh?
Well, actually, there is one such thing: get a job!
How’s that? Think about this:
On average, recruiters take just 6 seconds to review a single programming resume.
It’s scary, but true. Good thing is, you can make these 6 seconds work for you.
What matters most for recruiters is your work experience.
If you want your dream programmer job, the work experience section on your programmer resume has to be jaw-dropping.
Start with your current or most recent job. Then, add your previous positions in reverse chronological order.
Under each entry, add up to five bullet points. Focus on your achievements - recruiters are not interested in what you did, but how well you did it.
But remember about one crucial thing:
Your resume is not a trophy case where you admire how great a specialist you are.
A good programmer resume has to show how you can provide value to your employer based on what you’ve done in the past.
You have to tailor your work experience section so that it matches the job description.
While reading the job ad, highlight all the requirements and responsibilities of the position. These are the keywords the recruiters will be looking for on your programming resume.
If you see tasks that you’ve done before, list them in bullet points under your positions.
Here, see how it’s done:
Have a look at a sample Java programmer job description:
GENERAL DUTIES & RESPONSIBILITIES
Now, have a look at the work experience section on a Java programmer resume sample. Notice how the candidate matched his responsibilities with the highlighted keywords:
Black Knight Financial Services 2010 - 2017
Key achievement: Developed test automation(4) tool that reduced testing time by 55%.
The candidate didn’t cram his work experience section with all his previous duties. Instead, he listed only those that show he’ll handle his prospective responsibilities with ease. That’s exactly how tailoring works.
There are two more strategies you can learn from the programmer resume sample above:
First of all, you need to highlight your best achievements.
See how our candidate did it:
Key achievement: Developed test automation tool that reduced testing time by 55%.
He used the PAR (Problem Action Result) formula:
Problem: testing was too time consuming
Action: developed a tool to automate testing
Result: testing time reduced by 55%.
Also, remember that, as a programmer, you need to be quick and efficient. So, quantify your achievements whenever possible.
Secondly, use action words to describe your responsibilities.
“Designed application projects,” or “Trained junior programmers” sound way better than “Application projects design” or “Training and mentoring.”
ProTip: If your projects are available online, include links to your portfolio below the list of your past employers. This is particularly important if you’re writing a freelance programmer resume. Linking to good projects on a resume for programming jobs is as important as describing your job history.
Now. What if you don’t have much programming experience?
How to Write a Programmer Resume with No Experience?
We’ve got good news for you: it’s really easy to get some programming projects for your resume.
They will take you no more than a couple of days and you’ll be able to show your future employers that you’ve got relevant job experience.
Have a look at some coding project ideas:
Want to know exactly how to boost your work experience section by listing achievements on your professional programmer resume? See our guide: “How to Put Achievements on a Resume - Complete Guide (+30 Examples)”
You’re a programmer, so your career isn’t just about 9-to-5 jobs, it’s about projects, too.
And guess what?
A good list of programming projects on your resume is one of the things the hiring managers expect. So, add a “Projects” section below your work experience.
That said, employers don’t want to scan 6 pages of individual minor database projects you've been involved in. The jist of it is listing your relevant projects.
What do I mean by this?
Think about what the company needs and what its culture is.
Applying for a position at a cool, relaxed start-up? You might want to put links to some fun and creative projects on your resume.
Aiming at a job with a serious corporate tech company? Choose projects that show your programming proficiency and your ability to follow directions.
If you don’t have an abundance of programming projects to choose from yet, keep in mind that for hiring managers, any programming projects are usually better than none. They are real-life proof of your coding skills.
Even programming projects you had to do for class are well worth including on an entry-level programmer resume. Use them to prove your knowledge is applicable in a professional environment.
ProTip: If you put a programming project on your resume, be prepared to answer detailed questions: “What was hard about it?” “What did you learn?” “What was your biggest challenge?” Don't overhype a project and make it sound like you did more than you really did - it will be an instant deal-breaker during the interview.
Want to see some other ideas for your programmer resume sections? Have a look at our handy guide: “Resume Sections to Include on Your Resume: Guide (+20 Examples)”
Good news: listing your education on a programmer resume is usually easy.
Most of the time, you’re required to have a bachelor’s degree, but your education is not the chief focus of the recruiters.
If that’s the case, all you have to do is enter your highest degree of education.
Include your major, the name and location of your college, and graduation dates.
Here’s a programmer resume sample education section:
2012 B.Sc. in Computer Science
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
It’s okay to include more details in your education section, only if they’re exceptionally interesting or relevant to the position.
For example, if you’re applying for an analyst position and you’ve written your thesis on trends in data analysis techniques, put it on your analyst programmer resume to show that your academic interests match your prospective role.
ProTip: If you have relevant work experience, don’t put your GPA on a resume for a computer programmer role unless the job description asks for it.
What if you’re writing a self-taught programmer resume?
It’s perfectly fine if your college degree has little to do with computer science. Online learning programs, bootcamps, and other courses are enough to build a strong case for your education.
For programmer positions, your actual knowledge and understanding of computer science is much more important than institutional education.
Want to learn more about making a professional programmer resume education section? See our guide: “How to Put Your Education on a Resume [Tips & Examples]”
Listing your programming skills on a resume is tricky.
Let’s say, you’re familiar with 10+ programming languages and feel tempted to show it off.
That seems like an impressive skills list to put on a programming resume, right?
Though you’re familiar with all those languages, you’re probably not an expert in all of them.
Even if you are (Really? Then who are you, Steve Wozniak?) most of them are probably irrelevant for the job you’re trying to land.
Most candidates don’t know how to put programming languages on a resume. Don’t be one of them. Again, remember about tailoring your resume to meet the employer’s needs.
Here’s how to do it:
Start with a spreadsheet and list all your top skills.
Then, read the job ad and look for skills-related keywords.
Those will refer either to programming languages and software skills, or transferable “soft” skills such as timeliness, organization, and teamwork.
Finally, match the skills from your list with those that your employer expects.
Have a look:
Here’s a sample job description for a SAS programmer:
And here’s a tailored SAS programmer resume skills section:
Keep in mind that your computer programmer resume is not about how great a professional you are. It’s about how well you’ll perform in this particular job.
A tailored list of programming skills on a resume will make hiring you a no-brainer.
You can show off your additional skills by mentioning them in your work experience section, but a dedicated skills section should be brief and specific.
ProTip: As a programmer, you’re obviously a proficient computer user. You don’t need to mention basic software skills on your programmer resume. It would look unprofessional.
Need some more ideas on how to make the best programmer resume skills section? See our guide: “+30 Best Examples of What Skills to Put on a Resume (Proven Tips)”
The problem with most programmer resumes is that they’re almost identical. All in all, every programmer has similar responsibilities, skills, and education.
And that’s your opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Use an additional section on your programmer resume to show that you’re passionate about programming, dedicated to your industry, and willing to constantly self-improve.
Have a look a some ideas of what to include in your programmer resume additional section:
Got an online portfolio? Include a link in your contact information section.
It’s also okay to link to social media profiles, especially Github. Actually, if you’re a prolific Github contributor and many of your projects are available online, it’s a good idea to list them in an additional section.
If you’re writing an entry-level junior programmer resume and can showcase none of the above yet, it’s a good idea to add a hobbies and interest section.
Think it’s too corny?
Well, it doesn’t have to be.
For instance, if you’re making a sports game programmer resume, showing that you’re passionate about sports in real life too can surely boost your chances.
Plus, the hobbies and interest section can prove that you’re a good cultural fit for the company. And, nowadays, it’s becoming more and more important.
ProTip: If you feel like you have nothing that makes you glitter, it’s easy to change it. Good project ideas for a programming resume additional section include writing guest posts for an industry blog, taking additional online courses, attending conferences, or participating in hackathons.
Not quite sure what to include in the extra section of your computer programmer resume and what to leave off? Read our guide: "20 Best Examples of Hobbies & Interests To Put on a Resume (5 Tips)”
“You’re a programmer, not a writer. You don’t need to attach cover letters to your job applications.”
You’ve probably heard that quite a few times, right?
It’s the worst piece of career advice out there.
A good programmer cover letter can be used to your massive advantage - it tells a story your resume can’t. It can provide context for your top successes and make recruiters pay extra attention to your key achievements.
Think about looking for a beginner IT job or a programmer internship. Daunting, isn’t it?
It’s your programmer cover letter that can get you there!
If you attach a cover letter to your programming internship resume, you can highlight your creativity. Plus, you get the chance to explain why you’re interested in working with a particular company.
A well written cover letter proves that you’re motivated and really mean business. And it’s not only junior programmer resumes that should be backed up with a professional cover letter.
Not convinced? Check this out:
As a programmer, you’re probably more into data sheets than storytelling. So let me show you some disturbing data:
Almost 45 out of 100 recruiters won’t bother to open your job application if there’s no cover letter included.
Yes, you read that right.
It’s hard to argue with hard numbers.
Write a programmer cover letter (even if not directly asked for in the job ad) and double your chances of getting hired.
ProTip: After you send your programmer resume and cover letter, don’t forget to follow up! It’ll take you no more than a minute and you’ll no longer be anonymous to employers.
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write your cover letter in our resume builder here. Here's what it might look like:
See more templates and create your resume and cover letter here.
And if you want to get some extra tips on how to make the most of your programmer cover letter, read our dedicated guide: How To Write A Cover Letter [Complete Guide With Examples]
Even if you have the best programming skills, first you have to catch the recruiter’s eye with your professional programmer resume.
Start with a bang: write a resume summary or a resume objective. Make it about the benefit you’ll bring to your future employer.
Tailor your resume to the job description. Don’t list all the programming skills that you have and don’t make your work experience section too long. Focus on what’s relevant to this job.
In your work experience section, add a link to your online portfolio and links to your side projects. This way, instead of telling the recruiter how good you are, you’ll show it to them.
Targeting a specific position in programming or computer science? We have some more dedicated guides for you, check them out!
Wondering how to describe skills or programing languages on a resume for computer programmers? Feel like you could use some tips about listing your major achievements? Give us a shout in the comments, and we’ll answer your questions!
Michael is a writer and a resume expert at Uptowork. When he's not busy passing on career advice, he's probably somewhere out there swinging a tennis racket, reading Russian poetry, or enjoying his triple espresso.