Cracking The Code: How To Create A First-Class Software Developer CV

In today’s tech-driven world, the skills of software developers are in high demand. Research shows that, in 2023 alone, demand for the role has risen by 17% across all industries as the complexity of projects increases along with the need for innovative solutions. Furthermore, an increasing focus on digital transformation and competition to bag top talent has seen software developer salaries skyrocket over the past two years. In short, it’s a pretty cool career to have right now. Nonetheless, in order to bag the top jobs, software developers must first be prepared for what is often a pretty intense jobseeking process, with the first hurdle being creating a standout CV. 

In this article, we’ll run through some top tips and best practice guidelines for software developer CVs in 2023.

Write a killer summary

It’s reported that employers and hiring managers make their minds up about a candidate within 5-7 seconds of laying eyes on their CV. With this in mind, it’s vital to make an excellent impression as quickly as possible, and a great way to achieve this is with a precise professional summary. This should include your past experience, recent training, outstanding work-related achievements, or anything else relevant to the role at hand. This helps employers to better understand how your skills might translate to success in the role, and also gives you a chance to add some relevant keywords that could be picked up by Applicant Tracking Systems before your CV meets human eyes. Don’t go overboard though – keep it to a maximum of two to three sentences, or three or four lines. 

Customise your CV to the job

It might seem like a lot of work to edit your CV every time you apply for a new role, but we can guarantee it will boost your chances of success. Different software developer roles require different skills and experience. For example, front-end web development roles will require knowledge of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, while mobile app development may require experience with Java or Kotlin. By editing your experience to fit with each role, you’ll be able to keep your CV concise, whilst ensuring potential employers see you have the right skills straightaway.

Demonstrate continuous professional development

The world of tech changes rapidly and abruptly, and employers will want to know you have the ability and motivation to keep up. Depending on the role, you might consider creating a dedicated section on your CV that highlights your commitment to learning and upskilling. List relevant courses, workshops or certifications you’ve completed or are currently pursuing. Include the dates, institutions, and any notable achievements or projects associated with these learning experiences. You might also show you’re familiar with next-in-line technologies by mentioning any new languages or platforms you’re currently learning. 

Make it results-driven

What sounds more impressive:

I Implemented an optimisation algorithm for application load time.

Or 

I Implemented an optimisation algorithm resulting in a 30% reduction in application load time, improving user experience and increasing customer retention rates by 25%.

Potential employers don’t simply want to know what you’ve done, they want to see the tangible impact your actions had on business outcomes. Whenever possible, use specific numbers, percentages, or metrics to quantify your achievements and contributions. For example, mention how you optimised code to improve application performance by a certain percentage, reduced system downtime, or increased the efficiency of a development process. These quantifiable results provide concrete evidence of your skills and demonstrate the value you bring to an organisation.

Showcase your projects

In addition to mentioning your tech stack, a great way to impress potential employers and hiring managers is to showcase some of the work you’re most proud of. You might decide to include this information within a ‘projects’ section of your CV, and highlight some of the work you’ve done both professionally and in your spare time. If you really want to impress, you might consider linking to an online portfolio or your GitHub repository. This is a great way to demonstrate your practical experience, and gives potential employers an understanding of the scope and complexity of the projects you’ve tackled. 

Don’t forget about soft skills

As AI becomes more skilled at completing tasks once reserved for the human brain, how you communicate and collaborate with others is set to take on an even greater importance. Emotional intelligence, empathy, problem-solving, critical thinking – these are all marketable qualities that will help you stand out to employers and hiring managers. To really showcase this, you might consider asking previous managers or colleagues for testimonials that outline some of these qualities, and including these at the end of your CV. Alternatively, you might incorporate these skills in your work experience section, using phrases such as:

“Proven ability to collaborate effectively with cross-functional teams, facilitating open communication, knowledge sharing, and fostering a positive team dynamic resulting in streamlined development processes and successful project outcomes.”

Now let’s run through the general structure a software developer CV might take:

  1. Name and contact details
  2. A professional summary 
  3. Core skills (such as programming languages)
  4. A bullet-pointed career summary in reverse chronological order
  5. Education and qualifications (where relevant – no need to include that GCSE in food technology)
  6. Optional continued professional development section
  7. Optional testimonials section
  8. Note that references are available on request.

And some general best-practice guidelines:

Keep it concise: Aim for two pages that highlight your most relevant skills and experiences. If you need to go over two pages, ensure all the most important information is on the first page.

Keep it simple: Use an easily legible font, break up the text, and avoid photos. Don’t list all your skills and experience – only those relevant to the job at hand.

Use bullet points: Organise information using bullet points for easy readability and to highlight key achievements and responsibilities.

Use your judgement: When it comes to including things like hobbies and interests, consider whether it’s relevant to the company and could enhance your performance in the role. If not, don’t mention it. 

Don’t overuse AI: Using ChatGPT to give your spelling and grammar the once over is fine, using it to write your entire CV is not! 

Give context where necessary: If you have a gap in your CV or are out of work due to redundancy, briefly explain this in as few words as possible. 

And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Specialist tech recruiters like me and the rest of the GR4 team will always be happy to look over your CV and give you a few pointers. We have a unique insight into the type of skills, experiences and achievements potential employers are looking for in today’s market, and are only too happy to share our knowledge with candidates!

Looking for a software developer for your business, or on the hunt for your next software developer role? At GR4, we work alongside exciting tech startups and scaleups across the US and Europe. You can search all our vacancies here, or get in touch with the team here.

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