Software developers are essential to the workforce, and are highly sought after! Because there are so many software developer jobs out there, you need to think hard about what you want and how to present yourself to reach that goal.
At cvapp.nz, we believe in making career tools accessible to everyone. Our software developer CV example and writing guide, along with our CV builder and expert-tested CV templates, will show you how to:
- Target your CV for each industry and job
- Beat the Applicant Tracking Systems that filter out CVs that lack the right keywords
- Use compelling language to convey your accomplishments
- Develop a creative, accessible design and layout
What does a software developer do?
Software developers specialise in creating, implementing and maintaining software and databases, but software development is an umbrella for many different skills. According to CoderHood, there are at least 19 different types of software developers:
- Front-end or client-side
- Backend or server side
- Middle tier
- Data scientist
- Big data
- Software development engineer in test (SDET)
You may already have a specialty or know what area interests you most. You may have a job doing one type of development and be looking for a new challenge. Whatever your situation is, a great software developer CV is the place to start.
Many software developers choose to work as contractors instead of employees. That means they have the freedom to choose each project they work on, but it also means they are looking for a job each time a project ends. Whatever you choose, you can get ahead of the field if you know how to craft a software developer CV that gets into the hands of recruiters on the lookout for great candidates.
Most larger employers use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter CVs according to whether they contain essential keywords. These keywords typically describe critical job qualifications, and they’re input into the ATS for each open job. Study the job description to find out what the employer considers to be the crucial qualifications for this job, and if you meet them, be sure to mention them in your CV. Otherwise, your CV may be rejected without any human review.
How to write a software developer CV
If you do project-based work, you may want to format your CV a little differently than most. All CVs contain components in common, and here are the sections you definitely need to include:
- The CV header
- The CV summary (aka profile or personal statement)
- The employment history section
- The CV skills section
- The education section
Choosing the best CV format for a software developer
When listing your work experience, you have a couple of options. If you’ve followed a more traditional career path holding full-time jobs for various employers, your best option is probably the chronological CV format, where you list your current or last job first and your first job last. But if you’re a contractor who has done multiple projects for a wide range of companies, you should consider the functional CV format, which allows you to list your work experience by project or by specialisation.
Your decision may depend partly on the type of job you are applying for. Your software developer CV is a living document that should be customised to fit each application. You may want to have an employment history section for one application and a project section for another.
CV summary example: code your career success
Also known as a profile or personal statement, the CV summary is like a pitch to potential employers. Here, you’ll want to outline your professional achievements and skills, emphasising why you’re the ideal candidate for the role. The key to a good CV summary is compelling language and vivid detail. You want to give recruiters a sense of your professional personality and what you have accomplished in your career as a software developer.
Don’t be afraid to blow your own horn a bit. In fact, that is exactly what you should be doing here. Employers want to know what you will bring to the job. Keep that in mind as you write. Think about examples of successes you are most proud of and feature them. Since your personal statement is only 2-4 sentences long, you don’t have much space to convince them you’re the best candidate for the job, so don’t be shy! In addition to your successes, think about the qualities that make you an excellent software developer and add those to your profile.
Surveys show that recruiters will spend less than 10 seconds looking at your software developer CV, so make sure your personal statement hits all the highlights.
Innovative Programmer and Internet Entrepreneur striving to make the world a more unified and connected place. A creative thinker, adept in software development and working with various data structures. Proficient in various platforms, languages, and embedded systems. Experienced with the latest cutting edge development tools and procedures. Abletoeffectivelyself manageduringindependent projects, as well as collaborate as part of a productive team.
Software developer CV skills example
Software developers need a lot of technical knowledge, but they need other abilities, too. The skills section of a CV is a concise overview of your professional abilities. It’s obvious but true that software developers must have expertise in many technical areas and keep up with advancements in the field.
Here are broad examples of technical skills, also known as hard skills, that recruiters will be looking for:
- Data structures and algorithms
- Programming, scripting and markup languages
- Source control
- Text editors
- Integrated development environments (IDEs)
- Operating systems
- Networking basics
- Basics of testing
- Cross-platform software
- Encryption and cryptography
- Software development life cycle (SDLC)
Software developers also need soft skills, or the interpersonal skills necessary for most jobs. Don’t neglect these when considering your skills section. Here are some examples of the soft skills recruiters look for:
- Ability to accept constructive criticism
These are just a few examples of traits you should consider incorporating into your skills section. The most important skills are the ones that appear in the software developer job listing itself. Those are the skills the ATS program will be using to rank your CV.
Your first step to developing this CV section is to create a master list of all your skills, attributes, successes and accomplishments. If you’re in need of inspiration, simply come back to this list each time you need some help and choose the qualities you possess that are most relevant. You can also keep this list and add to it as you learn and achieve more in your career as a software developer.
If the listing of desired skills in a job advertisement looks too daunting, try plugging the ad into a word cloud program such as wordle or wordart.com. This also works if the listing is too vague. The bigger the word in the cloud, the more you should try to organically integrate that idea into your CV. Ka pai!
- Software Logic
- Advanced Analytical Thinking Skills
- Software Troubleshooting
- Knowledgable in User Interface/ User Experience
Employment history CV example: share your story
As noted above, your options here depend on whether you have worked full-time jobs for employers or acted as a contractor for many different projects. Software developers have the option of doing project-based contract work. This allows them the freedom to set their rates, work only on projects they choose and take time off between contracts. If you are a contractor, your CV is constantly in need of updating. Make sure you add new projects promptly, especially if they include new skills or experiences. You can drop earlier work that shows only basic levels of skills as you advance.
Don’t neglect work you did in school or in your free time if it illustrates a different skill than the ones you have exhibited in other job descriptions. This is especially important if you are just entering the job market.
Consider the course of your career when you decide whether to use an employment or project history for your software developer CV. Remember that this choice will define your image in the eyes of an employer. Either way, you should be detailing your growth and increasing skill level. This section is not a listing of your job responsibilities. Instead highlight your accomplishments, problem-solving and the challenges you overcame to successfully complete a project. Use details and data wherever possible. Include the names of any programs you worked in and the results of your projects. Did you get a project done under budget or earlier than expected? Did you add creative features or solve a difficult challenge? Those are examples of achievements to include.
Strong action verbs
You can have a great track record of software development, but if you don’t make it sound amazing, your CV may be overlooked. Demonstrate that you are a go-getter who knows what is needed to get the job done. Here are some words you might use to describe your hard skills:
Also think about those soft skills and describe them using action verbs like these:
Sometimes, the way you say something makes a big difference. These words can turn a good CV into a great CV.
Software Developer at Smart Mouth Solutions, Christchurch
December 2020 — August 2022
- Created a custom logging system to capture and store system data for debugging and analytics
- Implemented automated testing that increased code coverage to 60%, reducing the number of production issues by 20%
- Implemented automated monitoring and alerting to quickly identify and resolve system issues
Software Architect at ChristchurchX, Christchurch
October 2017 — March 2020
- Developed a comprehensive set of software development best practices that increased code quality and overall system performance
- Designed and developed an enterprise-level application architecture that enabled scalability, high availability and security
- Led a team of software engineers to successfully develop a major software project on time and within budget
IT Consultant at Silver Lining Networks, Christchurch
March 2013 — July 2017
- Researched and recommended new technologies to improve system performance and user experience
- Implemented a user-friendly IT support system that reduced helpdesk tickets by 30%
- Assisted in the selection and implementation of a new ERP system that improved business processes
- Implemented a virtualization solution that reduced IT costs by 12%
Education section example: learning never stops
Software developers need to constantly refresh their skills, so make sure you include tertiary studies in your education section. Your career typically requires a bachelor’s degree. If you are a recent graduate, consider adding any impressive scholastic achievements.On the other hand, the longer you are out of school, the less important your tertiary degree becomes. Technology is constantly evolving, and your skills need to evolve too. The CV education section is a good place to show off the tertiary training you have undertaken to keep yourself up to date. If you have any special certifications in your field, list them here as well.
Bachelor of Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch
February 2010 — July 2015
- Completed a Bachelor of Engineering with Honours at the University of Canterbury
Layout and design: create an excellent user experience
Just like a great software program, your CV or CV format should be as straightforward and elegant as possible. The same principles that apply to your software design should apply to your CV design. Your CV (also known as a CV outside the U.S. and Canada) should be clean, linear and easy to read.
Software development is a creative career, so think about adding one small flourish, but don’t go overboard. Once your CV gets past the ATS program, you have your chance to impress the recruiter. But remember that the number of CVs they see means they are looking for reasons to eliminate yours. Don’t give them that chance.
As a software developer, you likely have an eye for good design. Even so, that doesn't mean you have hours of time to spend on CV page layout. If you want to create a software developer CV quickly and efficiently, consider using a pre-designed CV template. Resume.io has hundreds of CV templates and CV formats to choose from in four main categories: Professional, Modern, Creative and Simple.
Choose the template that works best for you and customise it using the CV builder. There, you can adjust your template's fonts and design elements to create the perfect format for your software developer CV.
- Clearly label the sections of your CV
- Leave an appropriate amount of white space
- Proofread carefully
- Have someone else look it over
- Put your contact information in a prominent spot
- Use graphics or images that the ATS may be unable to scan
- Use artsy fonts that are difficult to read
- Try to cram too much information into each description
- Leave unexplained gaps in employment
Key takeaways for a software developer CV
- Software development is a rapidly growing field with many different paths.
- Include those keywords from the job description to get your CV past the ATS.
- Make sure your CV is tailored to the skill sets each employer requires.
- Decide which sections work best for your software developer experience.
- Use strong action verbs, data and details to illustrate your abilities and achievements.
- Keep your format and template clean and legible.
- A CV builder can save you time while creating a great CV.
This software developer CV guide was created with your career in mind. Karawhiua, you got this!