How to prepare your resume for coding interviews
The job market has been evolving rapidly, and as more companies adopt the WFH model, the demand for tech talent is on the rise. The fight for hiring tech talent is getting more brutal, with technology and software becoming a success pill for businesses worldwide.
The problem is multifaceted. More and more, we operate within a candidate-driven market, where candidates have ample options to choose from. The need for tech talent is being felt in almost every sector, and more recruiters are constantly on their toes, picking top talent at unprecedented rates.
The question arises: how does a candidate prepare to enter the top talent pool that companies are fighting for? The answer could be a long one. But there’s something that is often a deciding factor in whether you’ll get past the first stage and even be considered for the role.
Yes, we are talking about resumes. Creating a stellar resume is the first step to getting your dream job. Recruiters match their job description against your resume to gauge if you would be a good fit for the role and can move to the next stage of hiring, which is typically a coding test. Therefore, it’s crucial to make your resume a clean representation of yourself.
Why you need a stellar resume
The days of sending one uniform CV are long gone. It’s helpful to stand out when looking to land that dream job of yours. Especially when you’re looking for a demanding job like programming that requires a specific skill set and knowledge of programming languages.
Automated resume screening in hiring has become a widely used practice. Your resume might be glanced at only for a few seconds before HR decides if they want to move ahead to the next resume or get in touch with you.
With that in mind, your resume must have certain qualities to stand out. You could be highly skilled, but unless you demonstrate that effectively through your resume, no one’s going to believe that.
For many, just the thought of writing a resume can be a big task in itself, but many fail to understand that it doesn’t have to be so complicated in the first place. Just think of it as your professional career biography or memoir.
We always suggest heading to Rate My Resume to have your CV instantly reviewed free of charge, but below are some measures that you can take to create an effective programming resume.
Dos and Don’ts to stand out
How can you distinguish yourself from the crowd?
- Make your resume sound interesting with work-related facts about yourself. It should give the impression that an actual person and not a machine has written it. Avoid copy-pasting a template that you saw on the internet and just can’t get over. Your resume’s uniqueness is what will make the recruiter stick to the end.
- Don’t just write anything that you’ll not be able to back with substantial evidence and numbers. Going overboard with your accomplishments without having anything to prove will raise doubts about your professional capabilities.
- Write personalised cover letters for each job that you’re applying for. This leaves the impression that you care and are actually putting in that extra effort to grab the opportunity. List down a few bullet points that set you apart from the competition.
Include any relevant credentials
- Highlight continuing education like a degree in computer science to prove your suitability for the role in chronological order. If you don’t have formal education in the relevant field, make up for it by including any coding camps, workshops, or online courses that you might have enrolled in.
- If you have enough experience in the field but no relevant degree, you can choose to skip the credentials and your GPA unless you’re specifically asked to mention them.
Highlighting technical skills is of utmost importance
- Always place your technical skills near the top of your resume. Knowledge of multiple languages is expected from programmers, but sometimes it’s better to keep it minimal to avoid loss of important information in the noise. Mention the most relevant languages, frameworks, technologies, job skillsets, soft-skills, and cultural skills. While mentioning all the skills, make sure you’re able to provide the applicability of these through your previous job experience(s).
- Mentioning skills like MS Excel, Word, etc., which are basic and expected of every person, could make you look unprofessional.
Demonstrate what you’re capable of
- This is where the side projects come in handy. Mention the link to your projects on GitHub or your portfolio on your personal website or Portfolium. If you’re an entry-level job seeker, mention the projects that you did in school and university. And be ready with answers that could be posed related to each project during the interview.
- People who do something outside their job roles are highly appreciated. Mention the problems you collaborated on with other programmers online and the solutions you came up with. This will showcase that you can do things outside your role and have a learning and problem-solving mindset.
- If you don’t feel like you have anything that makes you sparkle, it’s simple to fix that. Mention guest articles you might have written for an industry blog, additional online courses you took, conferences you attended, or hackathons you were a part of. These are some excellent project ideas for a programming resume extra section.
Prove you’re the best candidate with your competitiveness
- Don’t overwrite your work history. List down professional experiences that are relevant and prove your experience in the industry. Declutter the resume by removing nonsensical experiences. Under each previous position held, put a description of 3-4 lines explaining what you did, how you did, and what skills were put to use to achieve those results.
- Include links to your previous projects under each employment listing on your resume. This becomes more important if you’re a self-taught programmer to prove your credibility and capabilities. Don’t oversell yourself by mentioning more than you actually worked on any project. There’s a good probability that you’ll get caught for such antics.
- Don’t stuff your resume with cliched words like “passionate,” “hard worker,” etc., which will serve little or no purpose. Instead, include the keywords that the employer has put out in the job description that they’re hiring for. It will also ensure its acceptance during the automated screening process and hiring process.
- Make maximum use of actionable verbs to highlight your achievements in your previous roles. Or if you’re a fresher, provide links to your side projects on GitHub, etc., contributions to open-source projects or anything that proves your strong interest in the field.
Apply all that UX you’ve learned so far to make your resume stand out
- If it’s becoming difficult for the recruiter to grasp and get beyond basic errors in the resume, they’ll not bother to read it. Make sure your resume is error-free, visually appealing, and to the point.
- Put things in reverse chronological order for each section. Put skills first, followed by experience and then your education unless you’re a first-year. In that case, education should be mentioned at the top.
Some tips to help you win the resume game!
- Don’t make it lengthier than one or two pages. Recruiters prefer absorbing information from the first page instead of scrolling down and getting into a mess, and having shorter resumes help you get through that first stage.
- Keep your resume in PDF format unless specifically asked for different formats in the job description. The PDF file will keep the layout and format of the resume uniform across screens.
- Always follow up after sending your resume to re-iterate your interest in the role you’ve applied for.
- Put your personal blog or website to good use by making it an extension of your one-page resume. Mention all your learning, documentation, or anything that will add on to and make a strong case for you.
- Link your LinkedIn profile to help recruiters verify if you really are who you claim to be.
All in all
Your resume is your walking memoir; it’s more like a marketing advertisement that will help you sell yourself. If it has all the pros and required information for the watcher’s attention, you’ll be able to have a few minutes of their attention amongst the market full of advertisements.
Help recruiters solve their problem of hiring the best candidate for the job role at their business. And making an effective, personal, clutter-free resume can very well be the key to positioning yourself for success.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash