Get your Programmer Resume Noticed, with a Compelling Summary

Many job descriptions for programmers weren't written by people who know how to code. But your resume needs to meet their basic criteria, while also going in sufficient depth to demonstrate you've got the chops. The resume summary is a very rich section designed to quickly demonstrate you've got what it takes! Let's look at two examples of very compelling resume summaries for programmers. Before we do that, I want to confess that I use the term "programmer" very inclusively, as I'm just a resume writer and I have a limited understanding of the coder's totem pole, which seems somewhat debated (i.e. the real meaning of programmer, software developer, software engineer, and so on). Wherever you picture yourself, I think that you stand to greatly benefit from these examples.

1. Highlights of resume for Grenada Inc.

  • 8 years of experience in software development at large corporations, with master's degree in Computer Science from Purdue University.
  • Experienced communicator who can explain simply the most complex technical concepts.
  • Improved database load times 10x by implementing incremental update process.
  • Created two-player game over bluetooth for the iPhone, programmed in Objective C.

2. Summary for Consulting ABC Inc.

  • Business and technology executive with expertise in computer systems and infrastructure.
  • Regularly introduces leading-edge application concepts and methods to programming projects.
  • Created a system to replace a MySQL backed system, which was able to perform a better job using half the hardware, and with a fraction of the previous level of complexity and maintenance.
  • Part of the core team that secured two rounds of funding for [company].
  • Responsible for managing (and recruiting) four other software developers.

The goal of the summary is to: 1. show you qualify and 2. build a strong first impression. And you do that very, very quickly, in a few bullets. Unless you're too early in your career, you should mention how many years of experience you have. Also touch on the sectors or specialties you've worked in. You could also try to highlight whether you're stronger with certain languages (or language types) or specific methodologies.

Make sure your resume summary is tailored!

Always remember the job ad when preparing your summary. Maybe you'll see certain keywords in there that need to be emphasized. There's no such thing as a good one-size-fits-all resume. It has to be customized. As I often repeat, accomplishments are the strongest elements of your resume, because they make you stand out from the crowd of programmers. On your resume, you want as many accomplishments as possible. But in your summary, you have to choose a few that seem most relevant for the specific job you're applying on. Which means that your summary repeats your key accomplishments. It's a smart thing to be redundant with the most valuable info on your resume! A potential employer won't mind that you insist on having led a team and hired engineers, or made a database load 10 times faster! If you write a strong summary using these tips, potential employers are much more likely to give your resume a good read. And that's a necessary step to getting more interviews!

More tips for programmers

If you're looking for more advice specifically for software developers, check out 5 accomplishments for programmers. But if you feel like 5 isn't enough, get the Programmer Resume Hacking e-book!