Software Engineer CV Example, Guide and Tips
Software engineers develop, test and maintain software applications and systems. Typically working in a team of designers and developers, software engineering roles offer fast-paced, challenging work and great opportunities for career progression. For success in your software engineer applications, you’ll need a CV that stands out from the crowd. Read on for our detailed guide to writing the perfect software engineer CV.
Key Sections to Include in CV
Your CV for software engineer roles should showcase your relevant programming skills, certifications, qualifications and work experience in software engineering and development. The structure and order of your CV may depend on the amount of relevant work experience you have, but most CVs will include the following sections:
In your CV header, add your full name, your address or location, your email address and your phone number. You may also wish to add a strapline that summarises your professional profile, such as ‘innovative, creative software engineer’. You may also consider including a link to your portfolio, website or LinkedIn profile if these help to showcase your skills and experience. It’s not usually necessary to include a photo, and it’s also best to avoid including any personal demographic information such as your age, gender or religion.
CV objective or summary
Your CV objective is a personal and professional introduction. It provides an opportunity to hook the reader and encourage them to read on. Write two or three sentences explaining your experience, qualities and ambitions for both the role and your career.
Here’s an example of a CV objective for a software engineer application:
The work experience section is typically the most important part of any CV. This section gives you the chance to show how you’ve put your skills and qualifications into action. List your relevant job history in reverse-chronological order, starting with your most recent position and working backwards.
Include your job title, the name of your employer, its location and the dates you worked there. For every role, add bullet points explaining your responsibilities and achievements. For software engineers, this could be an explanation of your role in the team, clients you’ve worked with and examples of successful projects. You could also include any wider contributions you made to the team, for example, contributing to winning pitches or working closely with clients.
Here’s an example of a work experience entry in a software engineer CV:
Software Engineer, Blue Bullet Web Design, Worcester, April 2018 – Present
- Building, unit testing, revising and maintaining financuial management software using Agile methodologies
- Presenting software features to FTSE 100 clients, receiving feedback and adapting code according to their requests
- Responding to software crashes and outages, reducing average product downtime by 19%
- Contributing to business development activities, with a client portfolio valued at £8m per year
In reverse-chronological order, list your highest and most relevant qualifications, such as software engineering degrees or diplomas. Include the name and level of the award, the institution, its location and your dates of study. If you have space, you could also add some bullet points outlining any awards you won, areas of specialism or societies you were a member of.
Take a look at this example education section for a software engineer:
BSc (Hons) Computing, University of Suffolk, Ipswich, September 2014 – July 2017
- Produced dissertation on machine learning in Python
- Member of University Coding Society
The skills section provides space to list the abilities that make you suitable for the job. Read the job description to understand the skills the hiring company is looking for. Make sure your list reflects these, and use keywords that mirror the language of the job description.
You might want to split your skills section into hard skills and soft skills. You could call your hard skills section ‘technical skills’, and focus on programming languages, frameworks, tools and databases. Remember not to oversell yourself, and only include skills you’re confident and proficient in. For your soft skills section, focus on transferable skills that are useful to the role, such as teamwork, working under pressure, multitasking and time management.
A skills section for software engineer roles might look something like this:
- Agile frameworks
- Server-side scripting
- Troubleshooting and debugging
- Working under pressure
If you have space available, some optional sections can enhance your CV and prove your worth. These include certifications, languages, hobbies, interests, personal projects or volunteer work. All these can be particularly useful if you lack relevant work experience. Be sure to only include any of these details if they’re relevant to the role and show why you’re a suitable candidate.
Tips for Writing a Software Engineer CV
Following these CV tips can help you improve your chances of success with your software engineer applications:
Choose a suitable format
The CV format you choose can have a significant impact on your chances of success. For more experienced professionals, use a traditional CV format, emphasising your work history. If you lack experience, a skills-based CV is the best option as it gives your skills and qualifications top billing. For both formats, use a reverse-chronological approach, listing your work experience and education in order. Start with your most recent and work back in time from there.
Tailor your CV
It might be easier to use a generic CV for every job application, but it can become stale and out-of-date. It also risks lacking relevance and specifics, discounting you from every role you apply for. Always read the job description and tailor your CV. Include relevant keywords and if possible, reference the hiring company by name.
Quantify your achievements
Add supporting evidence to your responsibilities and achievements to show the impact of your contribution. This could include figures, such as customer satisfaction, increased revenue or profitability. For software engineer and developer roles, you may also want to include performance data. This could include cycle times, development velocity and change failure rate.
Focus on structure and language
It’s likely that a recruiter or hiring manager won't review your CV until it’s passed through an applicant tracking system (ATS). To help pass this stage, give each section a clear heading and you make use of paragraphs and columns. Ensure your CV uses keywords from the job description, as any ATS is likely to scan CVs for these words.
Use an eye-catching CV design
Subtle use of colour, fonts, columns and other design elements can make your CV stand out among other applications. Jobseeker’s CV templates can help you design a beautiful CV that makes an impression with hiring managers.
Write a strong cover letter
The most effective CVs are usually a length of one or two sides of A4. Your cover letter gives you the chance to expand on your experience and skills and explain in more detail what makes you the best choice for the job. You can use Jobseeker’s software engineer cover letter example for inspiration.
Key Takeaways for your Software Engineer CV
The perfect software engineer CV showcases your technical experience, while demonstrating your skills, including qualities that make you a good team player. Read the job description to understand the key skills and experience the hiring company is looking for, and mention coding languages, frameworks and tools you’re familiar with, alongside transferable skills and qualities. The design of your CV can also help you make your mark with employers. With Jobseeker’s CV examples and cover letter templates, you can create a beautiful application in minutes. Sign up today to get started, and make your dream software engineer job a reality.