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5 Anti-Patterns in a College Grad Engineer’s Resume

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A resume is what you did, it’s not who you are.

In the past few years I’ve collected dozens of resumes from junior Engineering candidates and have provided written feedback to those who wanted to improve. I found that the vast majority of resumes have similar anti-patterns, repeating mistakes that are a quick turn off for any hiring manager. If you are in school or a soon to be graduating computer science major and don’t want your resume to go to the garbage, read the following 5 anti-patterns.

Objectives Are Too Broad


“To obtain a full time position that matches my enthusiasm, constant effort and efficiency.”

An objectives paragraph creates unnecessary barriers in hiring you, at best. The above example limits you to full time offers, then just moves some air around. Don’t limit your search to full time positions, especially if you’re trying to relocate. Most companies I know will extend a full time offer if you do an amazing job as an intern. Remove this text and repeat after me: “Seeking a paid internship or full time programming position with an experienced Engineering team.”

Github is Your New Resume

“I am an open-source contributor …”


I wrote an article that went viral, Github is Your New Resume. When evaluating someone’s Github profile, I usually click on Repositories and then Sources. Do you have a project that you have started that has been heavily forked and contributed to? Do you have any activity that’s longer than a year ago or did you just throw some code up there to beef up your resume? Does your contributions graph really look like this?


I don’t expect a junior developer to have any of these things. Displaying a link to an empty Github profile is a terrible idea. Do link to your personal website.

You have Lead, Driven, Managed, Advised or Evangelized


“Advised xyz.com founders in technology selection.”

It reads like your head can barely squeeze through your chateau’s living room French doors! You are not the project’s lead because you’re the only programmer. You’re not an advisor because your friends started a website and wanted to know which language is cool. Downplay and humble-down every single word on paper. Let your results and references speak for your value, not your resume. Remove every single adjective or verb that isn’t “did”, “implemented” or “built”.

You Have Expert Skills


“Expert in C++, Photoshop and Excel.”

I recommend removing a list of skills altogether and writing, in tiniest font possible, the technologies used within your work experience.  Should you talk about source control that you have worked with on the resume? My answer is no: make sure to avoid the impedance mismatch between the tools and technologies that you describe. My rule of thumb – delete anything that’s not a programming language.

You Took Many Courses and Excelled in Clubs


“2nd Place in the Campus Green Computing Initiative”

Most of us who left college many years ago will roll our eyes when you ask about those college years.

I think your resume should demonstrate that you can make an effective transition from college to the workforce, which means leaving as much “college” behind as possible. Being a Teaching Assistant should go into your work experience, but your participation in chess club should be left out. I would also not include a mention of your GPA. And any work experience that you may have should be concise and explain what the project was and what you did within that project.


If you like the advice above, and are in college or a recent grad, send me a copy of your resume to dblock[at]dblock[dot]org. I promise to give it 15 minutes and email you a few bullet points of feedback.


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