Making the best impression on hiring managers requires having an entry-level programmer resume that shows you are ready to handle the job.
Since entry-level developers do not have much experience to fill a resume, they need to make sure what they do include allows them to stand out from the pack. Here are some tips that can give you the edge.
Think beyond internships
Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door, but in addition to an internship and school-related projects, you can get real-world experience before you land your first full-time job. Spend time doing programming work for a nonprofit organization, a personal project or a family business to gain more skills that will not only look great on a programmer resume, but also give you more tools in your professional toolkit.
When you list these projects, be sure to include the technology and development techniques you used. For example: “Used Ruby on Rails to build a website for a local soccer club. Used Github for version control. Integrated with a weather service using jQuery and supported SMS messaging through the site with Twilio. Data was stored in a MySQL database.”
Highlight non-programming tech skills
Just as homebuyers pay more for a "move-in ready" home over one that requires some fixing up, employers prefer developers who have experience in a software development environment. Skills such as using version control, ticket management and time estimation techniques are not part of the traditional computer science degree, but they are a large part of what a programmer does on a daily basis.
If you have even a small amount of experience from an internship or other activity with these skills, by all means list them on your programmer resume.
Is a college degree necessary to work in tech?
Show your database experience
Nearly every IT job requires working with a database. Try to emphasize your database experience where possible. When the hiring manager reviewing your resume is reminded that you have this important skill, you will be seen as a “complete package” candidate that deserves a better offer than candidates without this skill.
Include only what’s relevant
Entry-level developers often clutter their resumes with unnecessary and unrelated facts. They fear that the resume will feel barren without lots of black ink on white paper. Until you have the experience to fill out a page with real meat and potatoes, it’s best to emphasize what’s pertinent to the job rather than trying to make the page look busy.
Feel free to list one or two projects from school, but stick to only the most advanced projects or those that made use of skills beyond programming, such as team projects or long-term projects.
When getting your entry-level programmer resume in shape, keep in mind that the goal is to show decision-makers that you have what it takes to be a success at the position you’re applying for. They recognize that they are hiring an entry-level developer, but they also need to be able to quickly and easily see what skills you have and how much experience you have with them — even if it’s only a small amount. And don't forget to read up on salary negotiation strategies!
Find out more about what it take to become a programmer, and what starting salary an entry-level programmer makes in your area: