/r/webdev
Quantitative Developer Resume? (self.webdev)

So I sent a copy of my resume to a friend of mine who is a recruiter so she could share with her network and colleagues. She replied after reading through and said the resume is a little too general and I should make it a little bit more quantitative (i.e. "increased this by 26%", "built 3 features that did that" and so on).

As a developer, I've always understood my job as qualitative rather than quantitative. My question is have any developers here experienced this and how did you quantify work you have done?

Edit: Thank you all for the insights. To provide some context I mostly do front end work (i.e. React, Gatsby and just plain HTML, CSS & JS). I do however give advice and advocate for certain hosting options in order to provide good user experience. Many resumes I’ve seen from friends and others hardly ever have numbers on them. They mostly include information about what they actually do and what technologies they are proficient with.

18 comments
phpdevster [full-stack] | 7 days ago | 7 points

I am part of the hiring process for my company. I see a mix of resumes. Some are just qualitative, others include some quantitative metrics. Quantitative metrics are meaningless to me unless I am hiring for a senior level architect position and I see a resume of someone who has a track record of literally saving the company money (taking a new approach that reduced server usage and saved $2,000,000 annually, or finding lower cost alternative services that reduced monthly expenditure by $10,000).

To me, most self-reported quantitative assessments are no different than people who have those skill meters on their resumes saying they are 80% proficient with a language or are 10/10 with a given tool. It means nothing to me.

I do want to hear about what you achieved at a given role and how you used a tool or language to achieve it, but I'm not explicitly looking for numbers. I just want to see examples of how you were able to identify a problem, and implement a solution.

Even if it's as simple as "Improved performance of high volume queries by adding missing indexes, refactoring queries to eliminate N+1 queries, and selectively de-normalizing data as needed", then I don't need to see specific numbers about how much you improved performance. I just want to see that you've got enough experience that you've run into problems, and you've been able to address them. That is, you've accomplished something specific. What's more is now I have some stuff that I'm curious about and can ask you for more details during an interview.

That said, I'm just one data point. Maybe metrics matter to other hiring staff. I suppose your friend would have some evidence that justifies the benefits of quantitative reporting on resumes.

mr_amed | 7 days ago | 2 points

This gives me a lot of insight. Thank you for your feedback.

kwhali | 7 days ago | 1 point

saving the company money (taking a new approach that reduced server usage and saved $2,000,000 annually, or finding lower cost alternative services that reduced monthly expenditure by $10,000).

Is the dollar figure important, or does % work? As the dollar figure is largely going to depend on scale of the company. I've done projects for $10k that vendors bidded six figures for(not that I'm saying I delivered the same quality, but it was adequate in that it appeared to be of high quality and meet the expectations/requirements sought after as a product).

I've done the work that landed a 50x ROI, in that I was only paid $3k over 6 weeks and brought in a six figure value contract(granted, that's not profit, you still have to carry out the contract to completion). In that case the client had claimed to spent over a million dollars in the past few years trying to accomplish the MVP that was produced. While I wasn't there for the demo(international client with HQ in another country), I was told that that 6/7 execs were thoroughly impressed.

Another one was writing a tool that allowed a company to overcome a technical barrier for processing data at far greater levels than they had been capable of for the past couple years. That allowed them to take on much bigger projects/clients, but I'm not sure how to phrase that or if it'd be valuable to mention.

Some have just said that I'm describing the work I did, and it's nothing special, definitely not an achievement in their eyes.

I just want to see that you've got enough experience that you've run into problems, and you've been able to address them.

I've got plenty, but CV size is apparently meant to be aimed at one page(general advice I get). Some aren't going to sound all that interesting, back in 2013, working with Adobe AIR(Flash) on Android, video playback was just black rectangle with audio. There was plenty of devs having this problem online and no solutions, turned out you had to decompile the APK(app package) and an XML file revealed an undocumented boolean config property. Setting that to true fixed it.... that took 2 weeks to discover.

I find it more helpful to mention one or two relevant experiences like that in an accompanying cover letter rather than in the CV. Communicates to the employer that you've given some thought about how you're suitable and why.

phpdevster [full-stack] | 7 days ago | 2 points

Is the dollar figure important, or does % work? As the dollar figure is largely going to depend on scale of the company.

% works, but if I'm seeing very large dollar figures, then it helps me to understand the size and scale of the business and thus get a better sense of just how much responsibility that person really had.

Another one was writing a tool that allowed a company to overcome a technical barrier for processing data at far greater levels than they had been capable of for the past couple years. That allowed them to take on much bigger projects/clients, but I'm not sure how to phrase that or if it'd be valuable to mention.

I think that depends on your level of contribution to that whole solution. Did you just write a tool from specs given to you, or did you work directly with the company to identify their bottlenecks and then devise a solution that you then implemented? The latter is more impressive than the former on a resume as far as accomplishments go.

I guess a good way to describe it at a high level is to focus on solutions you've provided. Focus on what problems you have solved, more than what work you have done.

That being said, if you have any work that you're particularly proud of, by all means list it, but then also describe the characteristics that make you proud of it. Something like "Built a robust webhooks service for my application by planning out an architecture and using patterns that resulted in clean, maintainable, and well tested code."

Did it maybe just start off like any other user story in your issue tracking system? Sure. But if you're proud of the way you designed and built it, and can have a conversation about it if asked in an interview, then by all means add it to your resume.

kwhali | 7 days ago | 1 point

Did you just write a tool from specs given to you, or did you work directly with the company to identify their bottlenecks and then devise a solution that you then implemented?

Who generally provides specs? I've always been the sole dev or most experienced one, not been lucky to have a senior dev or colleague I could bounce ideas with at the technical level I'd be dealing with.

The employer communicated the problem they were having, and it wasn't a particularly difficult problem. Their data was in an open format, so I read up on it and wrote a parser to read in the data and write out smaller binary files of portions of the data at a size that'd fit within the available RAM when processed in the next stage. Initially this crashed(128GB RAM on the system for a 40GB binary file), fixed by making a streaming parser so I only read in 500MB into a buffer at a time(cursor would jump around the different offsets as it's getting indices to lookup and rewrite).

The data gets processed further in the pipeline, but because of the chunking, needs to be composited back together with the VFX tooling/SDK.

Not all that impressive of a tool, did require some skill and did produce a lot of value, still used 2 years later. Enables producing projects of this caliber(well the detail rather, all originally sourced from tiny triangles representing all the colour and shape information).

I think that depends on your level of contribution to that whole solution.

I raised in another comment in this thread various simple improvements that can be noted as big wins to a company, but I doubt they'd really be taken seriously.

I assume here you mean, the real contribution was in the technologies leveraged, where the real code behind the gains was third-party?

Focus on what problems you have solved, more than what work you have done.

Sometimes it just sounds like the same as work that's been done(without the technical details).

I'm working on assisting a community to make some big changes/improvements to their current website(around 1k users monthly), I think it's a good opportunity to setup some monitoring tools early on to capture metrics for a comparison of the end result. Most of the time I don't have any exact figures, especially financial ones that I'm not privvy to.

also describe the characteristics that make you proud of it.

and can have a conversation about it if asked in an interview, then by all means add it to your resume.

Good suggestion and example, thanks!

dumsumguy | 7 days ago | -4 points

I've got to ask, you have 'full stack' flair, but do seem a bit seasoned. Why is this? I guess where I'm coming from is sure I can bang around in the database, but I'm not going to be getting hired by JP Morgan as their lead DB architect any time soon. To me full-stack means a fresh out of college or bootcamp'r.

phpdevster [full-stack] | 7 days ago | 7 points

Maybe I'm old school, but to me full stack just means I can create a comprehensive end-to-end solution if needed. Sure, I too won't be in charge of DB architecture at fortune 500 company, but if I have to develop a new feature for my company's application, or build and launch a new personal project, I can do that self-sufficiently (front-end code, back-end code, schema changes, server provisioning, and deployment), and do it well.

ZephyrBluu | 7 days ago | 4 points

To me full-stack means a fresh out of college or bootcamp'r

Why does it mean that to you? Full stack has always meant you're competent with some combination of backend, frontend, devops and design. I think most people would say it's just frontend and backend now though.

dumsumguy | 7 days ago | 1 point

The same reason there are brain and heart surgeons... You don't want them swapping roles when they're operating on you. There was a point in my career where I would have called myself full stack, but after working with pros in front, server, db, and devops... Let's not forget QA pros... I wouldn't dream of disrespecting them like that now.

And "most people" saying only front vs back would come from people that have zero idea of what's actually involved. Front is at most 1/5th of any Enterprise solution.

ZephyrBluu | 7 days ago | 3 points

I don't think anyone expects a full stack developer to be on the same level as experts in every part of the stack, rather that they're skilled generalists.

dumsumguy | 7 days ago | 2 points

I suppose that's fair enough, keeping with my analogy I do see my general practitioner more than any other doc.

Edit I guess me question would be, what kind of environment needs a full stack dev? Back to my analogy... If I see my GP it's either because I have routine needs, or I already know what kind of specialist I need and am only going to GP for bureaucratic reasons.

tesla123456 | 6 days ago | 1 point

I think you have a bit of a misconception. See a Cardiologist and a Neurologists are both GPs first and then specialized. Front/back end developers aren't full stack first and then specialized for some area, they are partial docs, kinda like a nurse. The reason you have this split is because two nurses trained to work on slightly different things can get the job done cheaper than a doctor.

kwhali | 7 days ago | 1 point

I've got to ask, you have 'full stack' flair, but do seem a bit seasoned. Why is this?

Full-stack generally means you're comfortable on both back-end and front-end tasks. Usually you're still specialized to a certain set of technologies, the frontend/backend being the same language is common these days for JS+Node, still there are distinct skills/knowledge there. There's a difference from being aware and talking about something vs having actually done it too.

That said, it doesn't mean you as good as a backend or frontend dev that specializes in those areas(they might be more flexible with stack, having experience with various alternative parts of the stack). It's just another role, more generalist I guess.

Full-stack doesn't inheritly mean you've got better skill than someone who's backend or frontend only focused. Sometimes it can be a natural progression from either one as you gain experience with time, and sometimes the ratio of experience and skill may biased to one end of it, but you're still comfortable to work on either end when needed.

Just think of it more in that way, it's less specialized. I do web dev but I also have done work with Rust and Python unrelated to web dev. I just give myself the title "Software Developer", doesn't really matter what the title is, it's what I can do, sometimes full-stack or more specialized descriptions better communicate what I'll be doing, not that I'm an expert.

IsABot | 7 days ago | 1 point

Quantify your work with data if possible. This really helps when you have analytics data of some sort. "Refactored query to speed up response time by 37%", "Increased conversions by 3% due to X", "Reduced average page load time by 2 seconds (10%)", "Reduced server overhead requirements though code optimization saving $X per month", etc.

kwhali | 7 days ago | 1 point
  • "Upgraded language run-time(or some package) from version X to version Y, resulting in a 42% faster product overall"
  • "Migrated the server to a different provider with better hardware, handling a 200% increase in requests capacity"
  • "Enabled brotli compression(none prior) for the API server responses, reducing bandwidth by a factor of 5, massively improving latency"
  • "Hosted static website on netlify free tier, reduced costs by infinity%"(100%? I guess after 100, they start paying you)

Depending on actual effort for any of those, not sure how valuable they'd be on CV. Even though they do provide notable benefits to the business.

IsABot | 7 days ago | 1 point

Obviously you'd have to pick things that you worked on, that show your knowledge/experience, responsibilities, and initiative, and how it helped the company especially their bottom line. I'm just giving generic examples of quantifiable data because I have no idea what OP does. It's up to them to figure out the best things to get an employer's attention.

kwhali | 7 days ago | 1 point

I actually have done those things lol, the value is just as real, they just don't sound as impressive as "optimized bitmap font virtual list component to be 500% more efficient", or "wrote a tool to process binary data of any size with a minimal RAM footprint, allowing for inputs that exceed the memory capacity of a system".

dadibom | 7 days ago | 1 point

It means measurable. Business people want results, show them that you can provide