Advice to Computer Science Students On Writing Resumes

One of my responsibilities at work is to help in the recruitment process for entry level software engineers who are mostly recent and soon-to-be graduates in computer science. While I’ve had this responsibility I’ve reviewed a good number of resumes, and I cannot believe how many are poorly written. I’ll generally overlook it and check for other redeeming qualities, but if your resume stinks you’ll immediately start off on my “B” list. Here are some simple tips you can follow to ensure your resume doesn’t suck.

  1. Seriously, do some grammar and spell checking. This does not mean running the grammar and spell checking tool in Word and calling it good. You’ll want to do this, obviously, but there is plenty that even the best spell checkers will miss. On one resume we received, a student described their responsibility to customers as “making the happy”. If you read some of my blog entries you’ll probably find that I am not a grammar/spelling Nazi, but glaring mistakes like this, while entertaining, are not going to land you on my “A” list of candidates. Read your resume through out loud, and have someone else take a look at it.
  2. Make sure your contact information is up to date. This last recruiting cycle we received an otherwise impressive resume from a candidate, but when we tried to email him the messages would never deliver. We eventually contacted him by other means, but when asked about it, he had to embarrassingly admitted that he intended to set up the email address to look more professional but never did. Hopefully someone else didn’t get all hyped up about landing and interview. Don’t be a knucklehead, make sure we can contact you. Furthermore, if you are looking to land a job check your email everyday. 
  3. Put your majors, minors, expected graduation date, and GPA near the top of your resume and make them bold. When we are glancing through these things we look for this information first. Please, do not make it hard for us to find.
  4. Unless you have major software development experience, please put your education first and your work experience second. When you are fresh out of college your education is really all you have. I don’t care that you fabricated quality hamburgers while shift leader at McDonald’s, or that you formatted a spreadsheet for some company. Put this information on there, but in a less prominent position than your education. Furthermore, only put undergraduate and graduate level education on your resume. Most likely there is nothing you did in high school that matters to me. 
  5. Make your resume clean and professional. Don’t use flashy designs to try to convince me you’re creative. If you did well in school I’ll know you are. Flashy designs are a distraction.
  6. If you have links to projects you’ve done, a portfolio, or an extended online resume then please hand type these into a browser yourself and make sure they go to a working page. I don’t know how many times we’ve had dead links in a resume. It’s annoying.
  7. Your resume should be one page. Period.
  8. Don’t create your resume alone. Most universities have a career center that is itching to help you find a job and will help you create a near perfect resume. If you aren’t using these resources then you’re not very resourceful are you?

That’s all I can think about right now. Resume writing is not rocket science, or computer science for that matter >.<, and you shouldn’t be putting out sub quality resumes if you expect to be considered for a position at any company.

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Father, Husband, Software Developer, Podcaster, Blogger, Gamer, and the Future Leader of the Zombie Resistance. My thoughts are my own.

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