As a new programmer, you may be more challenged in landing jobs early in your career. Here are a few resume tips that focus on how to express your passion and early learning experiences.
It’s true for everyone, but more so for junior programmers, that your enthusiasm for the job will go a long way in convincing someone to hire you. Write your resume in excited terms. Show that you’re ready to jump in and learn and contribute as best you can. If you can link your passion to the specific business domain or tech stack or methodology of the job you’re applying to, that is powerful in associating your energy with the job at hand.
You must be passionate. This will help create an emotional distinction between you and other applicants. You are applying as a part of the largest demographic of candidates – that is, junior programmers. Don’t ramble about your passion, but make it clear in brief, strong terms.
As a junior programmer you may have had zero to one or two jobs programming so far. There haven’t been many people who have paid you to do a programming job. But that shouldn’t have stopped you. You should have taken the initiative to do interesting side projects. These could be of any variety, but they should exist. Quality and quantity matter. In the short spaces of a resume, list your coolest, most compelling projects and perhaps just stats on the rest.
When listing side projects, you can also point out your level of involvement. If you collaborated with other people, that’s interesting to know, because that’s how many projects function in the workplace. If you owned the whole project, front to back, you can expose those details by listing the “positions” of product, design, frontend, backend, database, or operations engineer that you filled.
Include what you have. If you don’t have projects that look like miniature products, write about those projects that are simply learning mechanisms. Always, but especially when you’re wanting someone to pay you for your first programming gig, you need to show that you’ve independently programmed first. This will prove that your stated passion is not hollow.
Highlight Your Learning
A listing of specific CS classes that you’ve taken in college is marginally useful. Highlighting key learnings from those classes is more useful. Paint your interviewer a picture of more than just numbers like “CS 327” about the impactful learnings that you’ve absorbed to make you the programmer you’re becoming.
Listing you unaccredited learning activities is also useful. If you spend X hours a week doing coding exercises, that’s great for your learning and worthy of your resume. List the platforms and websites through which you do your exercises.
When you apply for a first or second job, interviewers know that you haven’t done or don’t know a lot. They don’t expect something else. But they are looking for someone they can bet on to increase in ability quickly. If you can express or demonstrate a desire to learn and an ability to do so, you will help quell the fears of the interviewer. You will help him imagine that you will be a joy to mentor and that you will be contributing to the real work of a project in short order. The ability for a candidate to learn is foremost in considering a new programmer to hire.
There are many other considerations for preparing a resume or interview talking points regarding passion and learning for a junior programmer. What are the other tips that you find most helpful?