In this digital age, software engineers are in high demand. Employers are looking for professionals who have the right combination of hard and soft skills to design and develop software solutions that meet their needs.
Having a well-crafted resume with all the necessary technical and interpersonal skills is essential if you want to land an interview for a top-notch engineering job. To help you get started, here’s a list of 16 essential hard and soft skills for software engineers that employers look for on resumes.
Hard skills are the technical abilities that software engineers need in order to be successful on the job. Unlike soft skills, which are universal and can be developed in any setting, hard skills are specific to a certain industry. Fortunately, you have the ability to obtain these valuable abilities either through higher education or by accumulating experience within your field.
1. Programming Languages
One of the first things you will see among the job requirements in any developer employment advertisement is language requirements.
You should aim to include the languages you are familiar and proficient in throughout your resume with a specific focus on those that are required by the employer.
The use of programming frameworks, libraries, and tools has become increasingly popular in the developer community in the past decade. Many companies rely on them to streamline the development process, optimize their workflow, and improve the quality of their products.
From cloud-based solutions to conventional relational databases, software engineers often have to work with different types of databases. Employers are looking for engineers who have experience with MongoDB, PostgreSQL, MySQL, and other popular databases.
Database management experience often demonstrates that the applicant has taken part in complex system design and is capable of handling sophisticated projects with many moving parts.
To prove your proficiency in this area, you should list out the databases you have worked with and include a description of how you used them in various projects.
4. Version Control Systems
Gone are the days when developers had to rely on their own copy of the code to keep track of what was changed. Nowadays, Git and other version control systems are the standard for managing code projects.
Having the ability to manage a project version history and control access to the repository is essential for successful collaboration between team members. Showcasing your experience with popular version control systems such as Git, Mercurial and Subversion will definitely give you an edge over other applicants.
Good ways to show experience with version control on your resume is by including a link to your GitHub account, or listing it out with the specific projects you have worked on.
5. API Integration
Many software engineering projects require integration with third-party APIs in order to retrieve data or provide functionalities. Being able to integrate APIs and services like Stripe, Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps, and others is a valuable skill that employers are willing to pay more for.
Besides this, understanding the fundamentals of web services like REST, SOAP and RPC is an important part of any software engineer’s resume. Companies often need engineers who are capable of building and maintaining web services that allow multiple applications to communicate with each other.
On your resume, be sure to include a short description of the projects you have worked on that required API integration. Employers will want to understand the context and specifics of your experience.
6. Web Services
With the rise of cloud computing, many businesses are now turning to web services and other cloud platforms such as AWS (Amazon Web Services), Azure (Microsoft Cloud Services), and Google Cloud Platform to host their applications.
Having the necessary experience with these platforms can be a great way to set yourself apart from other applicants.
To show your experience with web services and cloud platforms, you should list out the specific projects you have worked on and include a brief description of the web services used. You can also list out any certifications or qualifications you have obtained in order to show employers you are serious about cloud computing.
7. Testing and Debugging
Testing and debugging is an essential part of the software development process, and employers are always looking for software engineers with experience in these areas.
Having familiarity with different test automation frameworks, debugging and performance optimization tools, as well as certain coding practices can help demonstrate your expertise.
Be sure to include a description of the testing and debugging activities you have undertaken in previous projects on your resume in order to showcase your experience. Employers will want to understand the context and specifics of your work.
8. Operating Systems
Having knowledge of different operating systems is often important and required of software engineers. It is common to see Linux or specific mobile operating systems listed in job requirements of online postings.
Besides operating systems, it’s also important that you have experience with different virtualization tools such as Docker and Vagrant, as this is becoming increasingly popular with software development teams.
Although not necessary for every resume, it may be a good idea in some cases to include information about the operating systems and virtualization tools you have worked with.
Soft skills refer to the personal attributes and qualities that make up a person’s character. Communication and social abilities are just some examples of these invaluable traits that help people interact with one another at work.
Many individuals think developer roles do not necessitate soft skills, but this notion could not be further from the truth! Indeed, engineers who collaborate within organizations or those who work independently both require superior soft skills to excel.
1. Time Management
Time management skills are essential for software engineers. You must be able to plan, organize, and prioritize tasks in order to meet deadlines, as well as anticipate any potential problems and devise strategies to avoid them.
When writing your resume, make sure to include examples of how you have managed time-sensitive projects in the past and how you have met deadlines. This will demonstrate to employers that you can effectively manage your workload.
Software development is often a team effort, so it’s important that you have strong teamwork skills.
A resume should include examples of how you have worked in a group setting to achieve common goals. This could involve working with other software engineers on a project or leading a team of developers to complete a project.
You should also highlight any experience you have with working remotely, as this is becoming increasingly popular in the software industry.
3. Attention to Detail
Good software engineers have a keen eye for detail and are able to identify even the smallest errors in code.
Include any experience you have with carefully debugging code and identifying errors, as well as any bug-tracking software you have used. This will show employers that your attention to detail is top-notch.
It may seem difficult to showcase attention to detail on a resume, but you could use examples such as writing clean, well-documented code or developing algorithms with minimal errors.
Software engineers must have the ability to motivate themselves, as there are often times when you must work without supervision or rely on your own initiative to complete tasks.
When writing your resume, be sure to include any projects you have completed independently or any initiatives you have taken on your own to further your skillset. This will demonstrate to employers that you are capable of working autonomously and can take the initiative when needed.
Including any examples of self-improvement or learning activities you have undertaken on your own can also be a great way to highlight this skill.
Software engineering often involves dealing with complex problems, and it’s important that you have the patience to investigate issues thoroughly.
When writing your resume, be sure to include any experience you have had with debugging complex issues and writing detailed solutions. This will show employers that you can remain focused and patient even when dealing with complex problems.
It would also be useful to include any experience you have with troubleshooting processes, as this demonstrates an ability to solve problems in a methodical and efficient way.
6. Feedback Receptiveness
Ability to accept feedback and use it to make improvements is an important skill for software engineers, as code can often be complex and difficult to understand.
Make sure to include any experience you have with responding to feedback and making changes based on this input. This will show employers that you are open to constructive criticism and can use it to improve your work.
You should also include any examples of how you have sought out feedback in order to improve your skills. This demonstrates that you’re open to feedback and can use it to become a better software engineer.
7. Problem-Solving/Critical Thinking
Software engineering requires constant problem solving, so it’s important to demonstrate your skills in this area.
Be sure to include any projects you have completed that involve critical thinking and problem-solving skills, as this will show employers that you can think on your feet and come up with creative solutions.
You should also include any examples of debugging complex issues or developing new algorithms. These examples will demonstrate your ability to think critically and come up with solutions to complex problems.
Software engineers must be able to take responsibility for their work and ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.
When writing your resume, include any experience you have with taking on additional responsibilities or managing projects. This will demonstrate to employers that you are capable of managing yourself and your work.
It would also be useful to include any examples of how you have responded well to deadlines or successfully managed a project from start to finish. This will demonstrate that you can be trusted to take responsibility for your work and deliver projects on time.
Which Skills You Should (and Shouldn’t) Include in Your Resume
Overcrowding your resume with tech keywords is not a great idea, even if you do possess knowledge of many different tools. Cluttering the page with all different kinds of skills will only scatter reader’s attention and prevent them from focusing on your most valuable abilities.
Instead, you should focus on highlighting the skills that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for and that demonstrate your experience.
You should also focus on showcasing the specific skills that are most sought after in software engineers, such as popular programming languages and frameworks.
When it comes to soft skills, those are actually best not written separately in phrases in the skills section and instead should be shown in your previous work experience and project description sections.
Writing “detail-oriented, hard-working, self-motivated, responsible” isn’t going to mean much out of context. However, “independently managed a team of 3 developers for a full-stack project from start to finish” will show employers that you have the necessary skills and qualities.
How to Include Software Engineer Skills in Your Resume
So now that we know to include only relevant and demonstrative skills in the resume, let’s talk about the best ways to write them out.
Your skills should be mentioned both implicitly and explicitly throughout your whole resume, not just the “Skills” section. They should be included specifically in your relevant work experience section using bullet points and sentences such as “used XYZ framework to create XYZ software.”
Besides the job descriptions, you should also include evidence of your hard and soft skills in the “Projects” section and any competitions/hackathons.
When it comes to the “Skills” section itself, it should be fairly short and sweet, preferably listing your skills in three or four lines, grouping them together by either topic (front-end, back-end, database) or type of skills (languages, frameworks, tools). We suggest only including your hard skills in the “Skills” section, as soft skills without context won’t make much sense to the readers.
Here are some extra tips for writing your “Skills” section on your software engineer resume:
- List Skills in the Order of Proficiency – put the ones you are most comfortable with and have used regularly in front, then work your way backward to the ones you are less familiar with.
- Limit the Number of Skills – up to 10-15 relevant skills is the norm for a software resume; this should capture both core skills and related skills.
- Format Properly – remember about the ATS (Applicant Tracking System) resume scanners and the keywords they are looking for; make sure to format your resume accordingly and use simple text.
In the end, your “Skills” section should appear like this, if you are a full-stack web developer:
- Back-end: Java, C++, Node.js
- Databases: PostgreSQL, MongoDB
- Tools/Frameworks: Git, Docker, AWS
By following the tips above and being mindful of which skills you include in your resume, you’ll have an all-star resume that demonstrates your software engineering skills and potential to employers.
What else to Include in Your Software Engineer Resume?
Let’s talk about some other things a software engineer’s resume should include and the order in which they usually appear.
A software engineering resume should contain the following sections:
- Personal information (name, contact info, etc.)
- Summary statement (if switching careers from another field)
- Work experience (including internships)
- Personal projects
As such, it is advisable to include your “Skills” section toward the end of your resume, unless you think it is critically important that the recruiters see your skill set right from the start, in which case, you could consider including this section among on top (perhaps after Education).
Remember, that it is strongly advisable that your resume is no longer than one page, unless you have been in the industry for more than 5 years and have switched several jobs.
How to Improve Your Software Engineer Skills
Think you need to bulk up your “Skills” section? No problem. Here are some suggestions for you on how to improve and increase your hard and soft skills as a software engineer.
- Take new courses – this is the best way to add to your hard skills and to get new certifications that you can add to your resume.
- Read professional development books – this can help you improve your soft skills, such as communication and collaboration.
- Collaborate with team members – this can help you develop problem-solving and teamworking skills and gain a better understanding of the software development process.
- Ask for leadership roles – this can help you develop your leadership skills and learn how to better manage people and projects.
- Ask for feedback – this can help you improve your work and learn from the mistakes you make, as well as to become more receptive toward feedback.
- Mentor others – this can help you become a better team player, enhance leadership abilities, and develop your problem-solving skills.
These are just some of the most effective ways to increase your skills as a software engineer and make sure that you look like a great candidate for any job opportunities.
You now have a good understanding of the essential hard and soft skills for software engineers resume. Knowing what to include on your resume and where to include it can help you stand out from other applicants and make your resume more attractive to employers.
Don’t forget that, in addition to the skills listed here, there are many other elements that will make up a successful resume for a software engineer. Remember to include your contact information, relevant experiences and education, as well as any awards or accomplishments you have achieved throughout your career.
Finally, make sure that resume reflects your unique personality and interests – these are the qualities that employers look for in a software engineering resume! Good luck with applying for jobs!
Elmar Mammadov is a software developer, tech startup founder, and computer science career specialist. He is the founder of CS Careerline and a true career changer who has previously pursued careers in medicine and neuroscience.
Due to his interest in programming and years of past personal experience in coding, he decided to break into the tech industry by attending a Master’s in Computer Science for career changers at University of Pennsylvania. Elmar passionately writes and coaches about breaking into the tech industry and computer science in general.