How to Make Your Programming Resume Stand Out

As someone who has interviewed programmers and seen many resumes, I can share what I think makes people stand out from the crowd of resumes. I want to emphasize these are not requirements, only things that would grab my attention that most applicants did not have. This is based on my personal experiences. If you had just one of these things you stood out a little bit. If you had all of the you stood out a lot. Some of them may sound like common sense and be obvious, but even so, most people do not have or do these things. If you've ever interviewed programmers or reviewed resumes, I would interested in hearing your thoughts in the comments too.

Have Your Own Website

Have your own domain and your own email address. Try to post something once a month even if it is only to post the new bookmarks you've collected over the last month. The interviewer will probably browse through your website before you actually talk. It will give them an idea of your interests in the field and can help direct the interview discussion. The J4VV4D website regularly posts a simple thing called 'Things I Hearted Last Week'. I really like that format. If you don't have much time for blogging, just post interesting links you find throughout the week. Bruce Schneier also likes to post short comments withlinks to interesting articles. A Medium blog with a Gmail address is not quite the same as having your own site. It takes at least a little bit of effort and knowledge to get your own hosting set up, but you can do it for very cheap and it makes you look a lot better. Become a virtual citizen, plant your flag, and join the community.

Have Something to Show

Your website should be your first thing to show. If you don't have any job history, your website and your GitHub repo essentially are your resume. Code is more important to show than a website though. Mobile and web apps are obviously a little easier to show off. Libraries aren't as flashy but you can let the code speak for itself. I recommend mirroring your projects on GitHub or another public code repository. You need to put a little time in to this too though. A quick look at the GitHub history will show if you haven't commmited anything in the last year though. In that case it doesn't really help. The projects don't necessarily have to be directly related to the job position. In fact it's usually nicer to see some diverse projects to show they are well rounded.

Have Side Projects

This is a question I ask in almost every interview and when someone comes up totally empty handed (can't even name an old abandoned project idea) it makes me wonder if they even like what they do. Some people have children and they really don't have time for side projects. That's understandable, but one who is passionate will at least be able to talk about some projects they wish they could spend time on.

Have a Well Written Resume

I cannot tell you how many resumes are provided with inconsistent formatting, misspellings, and typos. Sometimes recruiters will butcher them, but other times it is clear the applicant is the one who provided the resume intact. When I say consistent formatting, I mean the way things align, the amount of tabs you use for things, what you bold, what font sizes you use. It doesn't really matter how you format it, as long as you are consistent. Nothing sceams 'I don't care about details' more than a one page resume that isn't consistently formatted from one job listing to the next. Formatting also refers to the way you write down technologies. I don't like seeing Mysql, MYSQL, MySQL, MySql, and mysql all on the same page. Pick one and stick with it. Preferably the correct one. Take a minute and proof-read your resume. Have a friend look over it if possible.