Are you thinking of becoming an engineering manager? The role is exciting - you'll deliver complex projects... and lead a team. Understandably, you'll need a manager's resume. Don't worry, though! That's why we wrote this article; to help candidates work through their process of writing an engineering manager's resume to impress all the hiring managers who see it.
How Do Engineering Managers Define Their Role?
We asked several EM's how they would define their roles. Here are some of the things they said:
"Engineering management really boils down to three aspects: people, process, and project management. Different teams really require different things." - a PM/EM at Lyft
"Management is about guiding teams to make the right decisions." - an EM at Google
"The best engineering managers can toggle back and forth between manager and IC roles. Make sure your technical foundation and fundamental skills are solid enough to pull that off." - former Head of Engineering at Stripe
"I like to think about engineering management in the buckets of people, execution management, cross-functional work, and technical competency." - Director of Engineering at Dropbox
"[Great engineering managers] manage individual people, execute as a team, manage strategy for a particular team, and partner with the product." - VP of Engineering at Betterment
Keep these definitions in mind as you proceed. You'll need to demonstrate these skills in your resume and throughout the interview process.
How To Write An Engineering Manager Resume
First let's cover what engineering management is. EMs are responsible for leading and managing a team of engineers. They play the role of supervisor for the engineers who must develop, test, modify, and build the solutions to an organization's technical problems. They also represent engineering cross-functionally.
Generally speaking, candidates will require a college degree in computer science or similar (think mathematics or statistics). Higher-level graduate degrees may be nice to have, but are not required for engineering management. EM resumes will need to show at least 3-5 years of engineering and leadership experience.
You may be able to borrow some of your work experience if you previously wrote a data science resume and are now transitioning into an EM role.
Building an Engineering Manager's resume may feel like an intimidating task. But, this is all the more manageable if you break it up into smaller, easier-to-handle chunks. As such, one of the first chunks you should tackle is your contact information.
Your Name: This is an obvious one, but it is still crucial. You should ensure that your name is formatted in a slightly larger font compared to the other text on your resume. Hiring managers often need to look over countless resumes. Your name should be immediately apparent upon their first glance.
Your Address: You will, of course, need to include your address near your name. Depending on the job location, you may want to have your full address listed here, especially if the company is in your local area.
Social Media: As strange as it may feel, it is becoming necessary to include your social profiles on your resume, especially if you showcase your work on these platforms. Think about including your LinkedIn profile, a Github account if you contribute to open-source projects or have publicized relevant personal projects, and a professional Medium blog and/or personal website.
Resume experts usually don't recommend including an Objective section for most job applications, but you may want to think about including a professional summary once you start applying for management positions. If well-written and short, these can help you make a good impression quickly.
The key is to be concise. Brevity is the soul of wit, after all. Cover why you would make a good fit for the particular company. It should also report your previous engineering and management experience.
Always emphasize the experience that is most relevant and impressive to the position. It is best to generally keep this experience within the past 8-10 years. We recommend a chronological format, as it's easier to showcase your continued growth over the years.
We'll dive into a little more detail below, but when weighing which experience to include, it's helpful to remember that management resume's must showcase leadership just as much if not more than technical ability. Quantify both as much as possible.
Start by tailoring your skills to the specific job listing. Every job application will include the skills that are necessary for the position. Be sure to include as many as possible without inflating your expertise.
You'll commonly see software engineering-specific skills (like coding languages), project management, product development, continuous improvement processes, and sometimes proposal writing, compliance and others. Aim for at least 5-10 skills relevant to the specific listing, and be sure you're ready to speak to specific experiences with each as you craft your resume.
Four Key Resume Tips For Landing An Engineering Manager Job
Show Continuous Growth
Interviewers want candidates who can do the job, fit into the existing company culture, and grow. The details of your skills and experience will communicate your competency and to some extent, your culture fit. But you also need to show continuous growth through a steady increase in responsibilities.
Take a look at the resume below. This candidate started out as an individual contributor (IC) and has consistently taken on increased responsibilities.
This is a strong, positive signal; showcase your own growth as much as possible.
Highlight Cross-Functional Skills
You and your team are part of a larger whole, and as engineering manager, you represent the group. You'll spend more time meeting with product, design, and other engineering teams as a manager than as an IC, so communication skills become more critical and communication issues become more nuanced.
Cross-functional communication is always hard, but engineering managers have it especially rough. You need technical expertise to make technical decisions, which you'll often need to explain or justify to relative outsiders. Interviewers will be looking for this unique ability to "speak two languages." Besides miscommunication, there's risk for conflict across functions. Disagreements are frequent, and while they can be amazing opportunities for collaboration and innovation, they can also devolve. Interviewers want open-minded EMs who are able to understand other viewpoints and quickly assess what those viewpoints mean for their team and the business at large. They also want EMs who are willing to push back if there's strong reason for disagreement, but who will ultimately follow a group decision.
Showcase this on your resume by highlighting your ablities to work with other groups. Collaborated with designers to deliver a popular app? Highlight. Worked with a dedicated project manager to ship a complex project. Highlight.
Let's take a look a this in action:
Pay Attention to Tone
Management resumes are different from that of individual contributors. Once an engineer steps into the role as an EM, they become the leaders of teams, not simply a member of one. As such, an EM resume will need to demonstrate how a candidate works through your team rather than what you personally accomplished. When we asked an EM at Lyft about the tone of resumes, this is what they said:
"Don't come off as focusing on your success. Oftentimes, engineers get the tip to say "I did __" on their resume. For managers, it's different. You want to say "I had __ impact overall," but you want to make sure you're focused on how you helped others grow. The worst thing is an engineering manager with a lot of ego... It's discouraging to a lot of people" - Lyft EM
Quantify Your Achievements
One of the most effective resume-writing tips for all positions is quantifying your success and achievements as much as possible. When detailing your skills and previous experience, provide as many concrete details and measures of your success as you can. Hiring managers (and the automated tools they use) love to see metrics on their candidates' resumes. It helps them make more informed decisions regarding who is best for the job based on objective results. Also, many hiring managers will look for evidence that you can help their employees grow in your role as an engineering manager.
Our Stripe EM has done an exceptional job quantifying their achievements. Almost half of the text that makes up their Stripe experience is specifically quantified, and the rest showcases their leadership and cross-functional skills.
Here are some prompts for you to use when writing your own resume:
- Achieved X growth in X amount of time
- Assisted junior engineer develop and execute a career growth plan that resulted in a promotion in X time
- Lead a team of X engineers
- Used leadership experience to keep development on time and under budget by X%
Transition to Engineering Management With Exponent
So far, Exponent has assisted countless applicants to prepare for and nail their tech interviews. After all this time, we know better than anyone that there is nothing that sets you up for success more than genuine practice. So we created our new Engineering Management Interview course full of many lessons that were designed alongside actual engineering managers who work at some of the biggest tech companies. It also gives you many chances to thoroughly practice while receiving feedback from members of our community.
But that isn't everything available for our members! At Exponent, you can find dozens of industry insiders and interview coaches necessary to give you that extra competitive edge. Book a session with a coach working at Google, Amazon, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more!