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As Talent Specialist at Detroit Labs, specifically for our OnSite team, I’ve seen a lot of resumes. While our team who works out of 1520 Woodward (we call them our Services Team) uses a GTKY and not a resume as a main point of reference, we work with our clients and use resumes as a point of reference.

If you’re one of those people who updates your resume constantly, that’s amazing. You should be proud! For the rest of us, revamping our resume only happens when something annoying happens at work or if we unexpectedly lose a position.

Many of us feel that if we can just get to the interview, we’ll be able to shine. This makes writing a compelling resume even more important. It can be incredibly challenging to write your story in a way that feels honest while showcasing your skills. There are countless resources out there for writing the “perfect” resume, which can be very helpful — but it’s easy to get overwhelmed with information.

When I started trying to figure out how to rewrite my resume after leaving it untouched for a decade, I was left scratching my head and spending hours on blogs researching how to stand out. In my role at Detroit Labs, most of what I do is to evaluate developer resumes.

Experiencing both sides of this process inspired me to share resume tips that will get you noticed… in a good way.

Job descriptions and company websites are open book tests
  • Employers want to know that you have done what they are asking. Review the job description and tailor specific points under your work experience to align with what they are asking for.
  • Research the company culture, mission statements, and work. Use this information to think of relevant specific experiences you’ve had to tie back to them.

For example, Company A shares: “We value open communication”
Example resume bullet:

  • Created daily stand-up meetings for my team to help increase communication and build relationships and trust within the team.
“Achieved” vs. “Responsible for”
  • In this competitive marketplace, employers are not just looking for someone who can just do the job. They want someone who will elevate the role.
  • Start lines with strong action words like “achieved,” “drove,” or “created” to show employers that you went above and beyond just the day-to-day duties of your position. Tell them you’re not just going to be able to do the job but that you will elevate the role.

Original example:
• Responsible for adding new features to an application on time with little to no issues.

Edited example:
• Achieved all client deadline goals for adding new features to an application while maintaining a high-quality product.

  • Discussing what you do is nice to know, but sharing the results of your effort will set you apart.
  • Show a measurable outcome for a time on a project where a client recognized you, you finished a feature or project before a deadline, you developed a more efficient workflow, or increased communication or efficiency. This is one of the best things to see from a recruiting standpoint. After all, if you don’t know why you are doing something or don’t have a goal of what you want to achieve, is it even worth doing?
If you don’t have experience, show transferable skills
  • I’ve heard time and time again from new developers and clients that you need “industry experience” to be considered for a role. If you are a newer developer and don’t have work experience, there are ways to showcase your personal projects and teamwork skills.
  • Being a developer is just as much about being a great teammate, communicator, and problem-solver as it is about the technical side. Being able to share some interpersonal wins along with tech stuff can go a long way since you will most likely be joining a team rather than working solo.
  • For the technical stuff, sharing the projects you have worked on personally and the tech stack you used is a great way to show your passion and ability to learn.

Example of a personal project format on resume:

Raddit – an Android client for the Reddit website – Retrofit, OkHttp, Moshi, ViewModel, Room, LiveData

  • Used Trello to track and prioritize tasks throughout project duration (3 months).
  • Implemented client-side caching using Room to improve offline user experience.
  • Used app stability measurements from Firebase to reach 99.9% crash-free users.
  • One page should be the goal. Depending on their size, some companies see hundreds if not thousands of resumes a week. Getting straight to the point showcases your ability to clearly and effectively communicate.
  • Don’t overuse icons, decorative bullets, or logos. You want employers to focus on you and your work. Too many decorative elements can distract from your story and potentially send the message that you may overcomplicate tasks. Instead, simply start with your title and 3-5 specific bullets of your achievements under each employer.
  • If a company requires a cover letter, the cover letter should include some of the ideas mentioned earlier in the open book test section. Tying how your passions and experience relate to the role shows you care about what the company is trying to do and are interested in using your skills to help them be successful.