The reco Guide to Optimal Engineer Resume (2024 Edition)

We have reviewed hundreds of engineer resumes and spoke to dozens of hiring managers and HR professionals at tech companies in Tokyo. Here is what we learned about the optimal engineer resume. 

Before we start

There are three general guidelines that will help you prioritize the information that you want to convey through your resume:

Relevance over comprehensiveness 

A hiring manager is looking at your resume with only one question in mind: Can you do the job? A good resume will help the reader to answer this question as quickly as possible. Emphasizing any experience that is relevant to the position while reducing the noise of irrelevant information will convince the reviewer that you are the right candidate for the job. I know it can be difficult to omit experiences or projects that you’ve put a lot of time and effort into but in order to increase your resume’s passing rate, less is often more. That doesn’t mean you need to cram everything into one page. Unlike in the US, the one page resume is not the rule in Japan. For senior candidates with more than ten years of experience expanding on two pages (or more) might be worth considering.

Readability over glitzy design

Design also plays an important part in presenting relevant information on a first glance. Whenever I see a resume full of symbols, graphs and colorful text, I tend to feel less confident of the candidates’ skills. Readability should be the goal when formatting your CV.

And there’s actually another good (technical) reason for simplicity: Applicant Tracking Systems or ATS which are used by most companies now. Many of them parse resumes and extract information such as relevant keywords and make it easier for the recruiter to put your data into the system. Since they can only read text, any symbols, images or graphics can cause readability issues.  So, while bad formatting won’t get your resume automatically rejected, simple and text based design will make your application easier to process for human and non-human readers!

Impact over shallow keyword listings

Recruiters and hiring managers pay close attention to your personal contribution to the projects that you’ve worked on. Ideally, you want to show the reader what skills you’ve used in the past and even better, that you made a real impact by using those skills. You could highlight one or two projects that are most relevant to your application and then explain the technical or business impact of your work with data points such as downtime reduction, user number increase or simply the amount of money that you helped your company save or make. Listing too many skills that you may not be very proficient in, on the other hand, can make your profile broad but shallow and cast doubt even on the skills that you are really good at. 

The optimal resume

Let’s look at each section of the resume. I have included snips of our sample resume as an example. 


The header consists of your name in the headline as well as your contact information (email and/or phone) and your current location (city and country is enough). 

You can also include links to your LinkedIn profile, GitHub (or similar) and your website. If you include any of those, be aware that they are like an extension to your resume and therefore should be up to date and look professional.

You actually do not have to include a photo of yourself in the header (or anywhere in your resume actually). While this used to be the custom in many countries it’s becoming less common due to the rise of anti-discrimination laws around the world.

(A) Summary/Highlights

Since most companies don’t require a cover letter, you may include a short paragraph where you can highlight your relevant experience in full sentences and that you can easily adjust depending on the job you’re applying for. This is basically like a sales pitch for yourself that should make the reader interested in continuing reading. Make sure to include your most relevant technical skills in one sentence. You don’t have to state your objective such as what kind of job or company you want to work for since you’re already implying this by your application.

(B) Technical skills

Instead of a Summary/Highlights section with full sentences, you could also just list your most relevant technical skills in keywords. This could be one or two lines listing your most relevant and proficient skills such as coding languages and technical tools. Try to keep it concise and show the reader on a first glance that you have the minimum required skills.

I highly recommend having either one of the two and to keep it concise since this is the section that I normally look at first to get a quick grasp of a candidate’s background.

Work experience

Your most recent work experience is the most important reference for your future employee. Therefore, you want to start this section with your current/latest job and also allocate more space and add more details here. As mentioned above, prioritize your examples by relevance for your application and impact of your work. 

You can use a simplified version of the STAR framework to organize your points such as: 

Task/Challenge (that you faced)
Solution (that you implemented)
Impact/Outcome (of your solution)

Remember to backup any of those points with data/numbers and make it as specific as possible: “decreased the loading time of the service by 1.4 seconds” is better than “improved performance”. Here’s a good example in our sample resume:

Academic background

You may list your university degrees or equivalent educational background here. The more experienced you are, the less relevant your educational background will be. If you want to stay on one page and already have several years of working experience (five or more) you could keep this section minimal. The name of the university and degree as well as date of graduation is usually sufficient. If you have a PhD and or if it’s relevant to your application, you may also include the title of your dissertation or thesis. 

You don’t have to include your grade average and should not include your high school degree.


Finally, you may also include any certifications, research projects and awards that you participated in/received. Again, try to ensure the relevance of these to the job that you are applying for. Outdated certifications or projects that are completely unrelated to your work may better be omitted (relevance over comprehensiveness).

Need a template? Sign up with reco and get access to our easy to edit resume template and a bunch of other useful tools.