Why your App Developer Résumé sucks — and how to fix it

Rob J
4 min readJul 30, 2018

I’ve been an Android developer for 7 years, I’ve had 20+ apps on the app store, hundreds of thousands of downloads, had apps featured on Lifehacker, Gizmodo & Yahoo.com (when Yahoo was still kinda cool), worked for more clients than I can count & I’m about to teach my the first comprehensive Android Developer Bootcamp in Bali.. Along with that experience I get a lot of questions from new dev’s wanting to break into the space, the biggest one of which being, “how do I find work”.

It’s a good question. Sensible. But I don’t get it. Mobile developers of any stretch are in demand. If you’ve been at this a minute your phone is probably blowing up everyday with at least one unknown number from some recruiter on behalf of a client looking for your skill-set, your inbox is probably full of “are you looking for a change” emails from companies who want to pay you pennies to do the same job they’ll pay contractors millions. (Alright, yes, that pay scale is an exaggeration — but the wage structure of permanent vs contract really is massively out of wack!).

My response to said question always starts with “send me your résumé”.. and therein lies the rub.

Nobody cares

Nobody cares about your interests.
Nobody cares about where you went to high school.
Nobody cares about the teamwork “experience” you gained working in Starbucks during college.
Nobody cares about how “talented” you are or how well you “work under pressure” or how your biggest weakness is your “perfectionism”.
No one is even reading your CV.

In fact, I’ve literally never had a call with a recruiter (if you’re looking for contract work, the industry is pretty much run by recruiters) who seemed like they’d even read my CV. It’s usually obvious because as soon as you answer the phone they start asking if you have skills that you’ve clearly outlined in your CV. In fact, most recruiters don’t even know what it is they’re asking you. They have no idea what Dagger is. They have no idea that when they ask you if you know Java, and then ask you if you have experience with “Object Orientated Programming”, they’re asking you a ridiculous question. What they know is keywords. What they’re looking for is keywords. That’s all people are doing, scanning your résumé for keywords..

RxJava - check
Kotlin - check
Retrofit2 - check
TDD - check

Knowing that, if you want to have a better chance at finding work, or better still, work finding you — your résumé needs to become a word diarrhoea of keywords linked to your experience, industry, work history & apps you’ve built.

And that last one is key — if you’ve built any app on the Play Store (or App Store) for yourself, list them on your CV. In fact, you don’t even have to list them.. “I have 3 apps on the Google Play Store”. Job done. (But actually have 3 apps of substance published — unfortunately 3 different versions of “Hello World” isn’t going to cut it)
Companies often look for people who have experience of building apps for themselves. Not only that but if you’re just starting out, you don’t have any “experience” so to speak, however if you have your own apps - you do.

How to fix it

This is the template I recommend to have the best chance of getting a call or an email. A foot in the door. Its worked for me & it seems to have worked for everyone I’ve recommended it to before. Plus, if you’re not having any luck atm — where’s the harm in trying this?

{ Name }
{ Phone number }
{ Title } (I advocate for [insert platform/language here] “ninja” but you can go with “guru” “master” or plain old “developer”.. whatever takes your fancy)
{ No more than 4 short bullet points outlining the most important experience you have for your industry ie
— I have built & released 7 apps on the App Store
— I’ve worked with 17 clients including Client A & Client B
— I have extensive experience with [insert technology/sdk/language here]
Work Experience
{ Client name, date, role}
{ A few bullet point outlining the most appealing thing you did for this client ie
— Built this app from the ground up in 3 months
— Project involved working with sdk a, technology b & language C

(Repeat the last section for each project/client/app etc you’ve worked on)

Most people are unlikely to read past the first page but it’s good to get it all your work experience down, (the relevant ones - not your Saturday jobs) just in case the first page is missing some keyword the client is looking for but you happen to gained that experience 4 years ago and so it’s on the second page of your CV.

And that’s it. The goal always is to get the opportunity to present yourself for the role. Whether that be on the phone, via email or in person, and your résumé is the first step to getting that chance.

How you do from there is, I’m afraid, entirely up to you.



Rob J

Freelance Android Developer since 2012 🎙️Host of CoffeeAndCodingPod.com 🌍 World Tourist ☕ Coffee Addict | robj.me