Back to blog home

Resume Tips From A Tech Recruiter (With Canva Template)

Kyle Jackson
Jun 18
 - In 

Searching for a new job is hard. I know I haven’t said anything groundbreaking with that statement, but one of the things that makes finding a new gig hard is the feeling of tossing resumes and applications into a bottomless pit. While I can’t promise the resume tips and advice below will get you a 100% response rate on your application, they will help you stand out and make your job search a little bit easier.

PS. In this post, I focus on software engineer resume tips but these can be applied to any profession.

PPS. Check out my resume template with tips below.

Get your foot in the door with skills

Here is the thing: recruiters often go through hundreds of resumes each day. Some claim they spend as little as 6-7 seconds scanning through each doc. So how can you stand out?

The first thing that would help is understanding how a recruiter conducts their search. Let’s take a look at one example.

My company is looking for a full stack JavaScript engineer. The ideal candidate will have React, Node and Typescript experience. I post a job ad before the weekend and on Monday morning I go through all the applicants.

While there is a lot more nuance to finding the right candidate than keyword matching, one of the starting steps for many recruiters would be looking for those key skills in the resume. I would use a boolean string (search parameters used on LinkedIn or in an applicant track system) to find suitable applicants. Here’s our boolean:

(React AND Node AND TypeScript) OR (React.js AND Node.js AND TypeScript) OR (ReactJS AND NodeJS AND TypeScript) OR (React AND Node.js AND TypeScript) OR (React.js AND Node AND TypeScript)

That boolean string will surface every candidate relevant to that search. One of the things you can do is put together a list of skills at the start of your resume that highlights the languages, frameworks and technologies you use. That way when recruiters are keyword searching, using booleans or even AI, your resume will populate the search aka “get your foot in the door”.

Sounds basic but it does help, especially when the skills are listed at the start of your resume. Aim for 8-15 skills, using our full-stack example.

Skills: React.js, Node.js, TypeScript, Express.js, Redux, GraphQL, RESTful APIs, MongoDB, HTML/CSS, Git/GitHub.

Use data where possible

This one is short but effective. Data is a wonderful thing on a resume and if you can quantify your impact, it will help you stand out. This can be regarding increased efficiency, revenue growth, growing a team, NPS, customer growth, etc. You want to show tangible impact.

”Built a new product, which grew revenue by 50% within the first 2 years of joining the team” - this is a stronger point on a resume than “Built a new product that grew revenue considerably.”

Recent experience is the most important

Assuming you’re applying for roles in the same field/profession, your most recent experience is usually the most important and can be elaborated on. I recommend 6-8 bullet points for your most recent role; then subtract one bullet point for each role you previously held.

Use AI

Tools like ChatGPT are awesome for resume building. Spellchecking and grammar alone are worth using AI for, but the ability to help write resume points is where AI shines.

Here is a handy way to prompt ChatGPT by inserting your previous resume points: “I am applying for XYZ job. I’ve added my resume. Customise and improve my resume to fit the job I am applying for. Use action verbs and add any additional resume points that might be relevant to my job”.

You can also use ChatGPT to increase the tone or formality of your resume and use it to customise your resume to a specific job by adding in the job description in your prompt, which leads me to our next point.

Customise your resume

Applying for jobs is time-consuming, so this tip isn’t always feasible, but for those roles that you’re motivated for or you’re highly qualified for, I highly recommend customising the resume to highlight the experience most relevant to the role.

Feel free to break the rule of listing your most recent job first on your resume. If you have a particularly relevant experience from a few positions back, highlight it! Use bold or underline, expand on that experience, and ensure the recruiter knows just how relevant it is to the job you're applying for. Make sure your most pertinent experience stands out!

Customising your resume pairs perfectly with a strong cover letter. While cover letters aren't always required, they can be invaluable for roles where you are a great match or want to express a high level of interest. Though cover letters are a topic on their own, writing one that highlights the most relevant experience for a specific role in tandem with a customised and detailed resume works wonders. Keep the cover letter short and sharp!

Use colour (and fonts) right

Use colour to break up sections in your resume and different font weights and sizes to bring certain details forward. I’ve seen some that use coloured font in their skills section and use coloured lines to break up each new job or even highlight their most important experience within a job.

There are tons of free templates on Canva that have an appropriate amount of colour and use it in a useful way that will make your resume look better.  Choose something professional and remember, a little goes a long way.

Education history and GPA aren’t as important as you think

I can say with certainty that I have never used someone’s university of choice or GPA to rule them out of a job.

If you’ve been working for a few years, I can safely say your academic history has very little influence on my decision to accept or reject your resume.

The only times I’ve had a look at someone’s education is if I’ve been asked to find people with computer science degrees or PhDs in a certain field like statistics, computer science or machine learning. When it comes to searching for candidates, I care about your experience.

Of course, attending a reputable school and having high grades are great indicators of a bright person, but they don't necessarily reflect job qualifications, especially if you graduated over two or three years ago. For those of us who weren't academic superstars, there's no need to worry about your GPA or school background—unless you're applying for your first job post-graduation.

My recommendation for listing education on a resume is to place it at the bottom. Have an impressive GPA? Awesome, feel free to include it. Graduated with honours? Add that as well. Otherwise, just listing your university, degree, and years attended is perfectly sufficient.

Advanced degrees such as Masters and PhDs show significant dedication and expertise in a subject, so be sure to include them, especially if they explain a career change. In these cases, listing your field of study, years of experience, and summary of your dissertation is sufficient. If you've published any work, feel free to reference those below your academic history as well!

Get started with our resume template

Still feeling stuck? Check out our free Canva resume template to get started. While we designed this resume format with software engineers or developers in mind (we are tech recruiters!), you can easily customise it for any profession.

Preview the template here - no sign-in is required

Editable template here - requires Canva sign-in

Resume template for Canva

I hope these resume tips help you land your next gig! As always, feel free to reach out to Lookahead for tech job opportunities or if you’re looking for your next superstar!

Check out these short nuggets of wisdom from our friends:

Your resume is your pitch deck by Matt Allen

Resumes for tech leaders by Steve Gilles

Curriculum Vitae, Resume, Cover Letter by Kat Budrys

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter

Join our newsletter for updates and new openings:
The Lookahead office is located on the traditional lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded and pay our respects to elders past, present, and future.
Thank you for subscribing!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.