For a computer science graduate, writing a resume for a relevant role should be pretty straightforward. Whether you're hoping to become a software developer, an IT consultant or a data scientist, you'll need to highlight your most relevant skills and experiences and find ways to target the specific job you want throughout your resume.
Fortunately, we're here to help. We'll have you on your way to creating a professional resume that will distill your college years into useful data, help you catch the hiring manager's eye and score your first job after graduation. Here are some tips for creating a sharp, engaging computer science resume.
1. Set the stage with structure
The most important thing you can do to start your CS resume journey is to give it clear, logical formatting. You'll want to choose a resume format that helps you highlight your skills and experience and structure your resume around the five key sections: Contact Header, Professional Summary, Skills, Work History and Education.
If you're fresh out of school and you've never held a CS-related job, you might prefer a hybrid or functional resume that emphasizes the skills you developed in your college education. But if you held a summer job in an IT department or if you've completed any coding certifications, you may want to opt for a resume format with a prominent work history section — in this case go with the reverse chronological format.
You want your resume to be clean and organized, which will make it easy for humans and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) alike to scan it. Our Resume Builder will give you the peace of mind that your resume can stand up to any ATS.
Remember, your resume is the place to itemize your accomplishments, education and awards. Don't embellish your skills, but also don't be shy about including everything that would be useful for a potential employer to know. Feel free to boast a little when you build a cover letter, and provide the facts to back it up in your resume.
2. Pass the gatekeeper
Many companies use ATS to review resumes before human eyes ever see them. To make sure your computer science student resume gets past this bot, avoid graphics, logos and tables, and stick with standard fonts.
Study the job description closely and use language directly from the posting whenever it's relevant. Avoid abbreviations and slang, as you never know how sensitive the ATS's filters are. For instance, if the posting asks for candidates with experience in Artificial Intelligence, use the full term, not "AI," in your resume.
3. Show that you're special
Your resume's education section will tell recruiters that you completed a computer science major with any concentrations or specializations you may have achieved. If you attended a larger university with a well-developed computer science department or had internships or other on-the-job work, you might have had the opportunity to build skills and experience in some of the most common CS specializations:
- Computer and network security
- Mobile and web computing
- Software engineering
- Data analytics
- Artificial intelligence
If you chose a specialization, make sure to note it front and center so the hiring manager can see it. If your school didn't offer formal specializations, feel free to indicate the specializations that interest you the most, especially if you found a way to incorporate them into your studies. Highlighting your unique skillset and interests will help differentiate you from your fellow computer science graduates.
4. Get specific
Hiring managers look for candidates with broad skills, like written communication and project management. But they also want to know the technical details, like what specific software and hardware have you used, and what are your levels of proficiency? Putting these specifics in your resume will help you get past the bots that may be screening your resume before human eyes read it. It's also important to mention any computer languages in which you are fluent, such as:
If you have quantifiable results to show from a school project or a past job or internship, highlight that data on your resume and consider addressing it in your cover letter. Numbers and statistics are easy and effective ways to succinctly showcase your skills to employers.
5. Keep learning
You may be tired of sitting in a classroom and taking tests, but the field of computer science is constantly evolving. Show that you're dedicated to continuous learning. Keeping up with certifications will ensure that your resume always looks up to date and that you are remaining competitive in your field. Employers will have the evidence in front of them that you are pursuing your education event after graduation. That willingness and ability to continue learning may be what causes a hiring manager to consider you for a "stretch" role (one that's above your experience level).
6. Be creative
Your computer science degree doesn't preclude you from thinking outside of the box. Your resume is your way of telling a potential employer not just what you've accomplished, but who you are. Use every inch of the page to your advantage.
Browse LiveCareer's extensive collection of Resume Samples, which includes sample computer science resumes that work great for a variety of CS jobs. Working from a resume template can take the guesswork out of formatting and still let you express your personal style.
7. Know your reader
When you apply for a computer science job, the person who reads your resume may be your prospective manager. More likely, they are in HR, and their knowledge base of computer science terminology will vary wildly. Knowing who will be reviewing your resume and tailoring your language will help it be as effective as possible. Whenever possible, avoid industry jargon and abbreviations if you can communicate the same information without using them.
8. Look ahead
When you submit a resume, your goal should be to stand out and gain an invitation to come in for an interview. To get the employer's attention, it's tempting to want to embellish your accomplishments, like padding your experience with Java or declaring specialties you can't back up with training. Remember, the interviewer will most likely ask you about the items listed in your resume during an interview. If you don't want to be caught like a deer in headlights without an answer to a question, leave it out.
9. Get professional help
Your peers are a great resource for resume help, but the professionals know what will be most effective in landing the interview. LiveCareer's Resume Builder was developed to help you construct a resume that touts your accomplishments and shows your potential. Begin your career as a computer science graduate on the right foot by crafting a resume (and cover letter too) that you'll be proud to submit.