What Do Employers Want To See On An Engineering Resume?

Software Engineers are experts in problem solving and testing to find optimal solutions. So why do these skills not always translate to crafting a resume? 

Many engineering candidates struggle to actively showcase their skills and transmit their suitability for a role. It can be challenging against the background of constantly evolving technology, coding languages, and working methods. How do you keep track of what employers are searching for? 

The software development market is expected to grow 11.7% annually between 2022 and 2030. In such a rapidly expanding industry, it’s getting harder to stand out. Whether you are currently in the market for a new engineering role or simply want to stay on top of your engineering game, this article is for you. We’ll dive into software engineers’ top skills and the information employers seek. 

Let’s get started on exactly how you can make your engineering resume shine.

How to know what employers want from a job advertisement

Before you land a job and begin negotiating your engineer salary, you need to know how to scan a job description for what an employer is looking for. 

You can do this by picking out keywords and including them in your resume. Make sure to highlight notable keywords when you write a cover letter. Employers often scan resume’s for keywords to establish whether candidates are suitable for the job. 

Look for the following types of keywords in software engineering job descriptions:

  • Programming languages 
  • Software and technology
  • Job titles 
  • Technical skills 
  • Soft skills 

Write a compelling resume summary

The first (and arguably) most important section of your resume is the resume summary. It is your opportunity to catch the attention of your employer. It can mean the difference between them reading the rest of your resume or tossing it. 

Your resume summary must be clear and concise. It should be easy for the employer to understand your qualifications and skills. It might be tempting to write a generic resume summary, but the more specific you can be by targeting the position, the better. If this means you need to tweak the summary for different roles — that’s ok. It’s time well spent.

A good resume summary should be:

  • A synopsis of your essential skills and experience 
  • No longer than four sentences
  • Clear and specific 

A compelling resume summary for engineers should include:

  • Your title – ‘Senior Java Engineer’
  • Years of experience – ‘5+ years in software engineering and app development’
  • Your value proposition – ‘My goal is to innovate and simplify’
  • Examples of your impact with hard numbers or percentages – ‘In my last role I increased coding efficiency by 25%’

Include relevant academic background

Listing your education and qualifications effectively on your resume is vital. Not only will it indicate your skill and ability to an employer, but employers also often run searches of online profiles using academic qualifications. Therefore, ensuring your educational background is listed on your resume on paper and online can help you be headhunted for your next position.

While important, your education section should be brief and concise. You may want to include:

  • Qualifications – This typically includes undergraduate degrees, Master’s degrees, or PhDs.
  • Certifications – Certifications can help employers see areas of specific expertise and highlight tech literacy and help you stand out. You can include them under education or create a separate section if you have multiple. 
  • Awards – Only include relevant awards or recognitions which can give you a competitive edge. 

We generally recommend following the format of date, qualification, then institution. The key is keeping each line short and readable and formatting consistently throughout. 

Include your highest qualifications at the top, and follow with lower ones. This might look like:

Ph.D. in Computer Science
University of California, Berkeley

MSc in Software Engineering
Stevens Institute of Technology

BA in Computer Science
University of California, Berkeley

If you received an undergraduate degree, it is unnecessary to include your high school education. 

Top-rated software engineer skills

The most desired skills are constantly fluctuating, but these are some of the top skills employers are currently looking for in the engineering field.  

Hard engineering skills

  • Programming languages – Java, Python, Ruby, C#/.Net, Mean, Javascript.
  • Cloud computing skills – Amazon Web Service (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure.
  • Software testing/ debugging – still a crucial part of software engineer roles.
  • Object-oriented design (OOD) – Abstraction, Encapsulation, Inheritance, Polymorphism.
  • Data structure and algorithms – know at least fundamental data structures like array, linked list, map.
  • Git and Git hub – understanding version control tools like Git and SVN.
  • Containers – Docker and Kubernetes are key to test and scale apps.
  • Text editors – familiarity with a text editor and shortcuts, for example, Notepad/++ in Windows, VIM in Linux, or advanced editors like Sublime.
  • Databases – databases are still important, know at least one well, for example, Oracle, MySQL, Microsoft SQL Server, PostgreSQL.
  • Linux – although 61% of software developers use Windows OS, vs. 47% that use Linux, it can bring you a competitive edge.
  • Computer networks – understand networking basics.
  • IDEs – Visual Studio Code for C, C++, and C# developers, Jupiter Notebook for Python programmers, or Eclipse, NetBeans, and IntelliJ for Java developers.

Check out online developer hubs to brush up on specific skills.

Soft engineering skills

  • Problem solving – even the best software engineers are likely to spend more time debugging than writing code. Problem solving is a must. 
  • Written and verbal communication – it’s not just about fixing the problem, but articulating it to colleagues, teammates, and clients so they can maintain the program without you.
  • Teamwork – two heads are better than one and collaboration, listening, and accepting criticism can elevate your performance and results.
  • Patience – any software engineer must be persistent and patient and not get easily frustrated by a fix that takes a long time.
  • Time management – understanding how long things take and delivering work on time to clients will make you stand out above the rest.
  • Accountability – taking responsibility and being open to change and reworking solutions is vital in an engineering role. 

Add your professional software engineer experience

Real-world experience is hugely important for companies and clients to know you can perform effectively in the role. Working in teams and within company dynamics is different from sitting in a lecture hall. 

Again, list your relevant experience from the top down, beginning with your most recent roles. Include a small summary of your duties, achievements, and tools in each position. We recommend using bullet points to keep things as readable as possible and include tangible data or evidence of any impact you had. 

While you should include some technical details to show your skills, remember that it has to be understandable for recruiters. Each professional role you have had can follow a format such as:

  • Job title
  • Company
  • Date’s employed
  • Bulleted list of duties and achievements

For example:

Software Engineer

  • Engineered applications with Python, Eclipse
  • Built innovative Web Services (incl. SOA/SOAP/REST/XML)
  • Increased coding efficiency by 30%
  • Effective building using Cloud Foundry on top of Kubernetes
  • Worked individually and within a team to complete 98% of projects on time

Now that you have learned what to include in your resume, it’s time to search for your next position. If you need a little more guidance on exactly how to formulate your resume, try using an online resume builder that can help you generate bullet points and write a compelling resume summary.

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