Overview

A truly modern career choice for a technological age, an Application Developer will work with businesses to identify software solutions to a wide range of problems, and will design and develop that software to meet the business needs. They may work independently, providing bespoke solutions for a wide range of business clients, or they may be part of an employed IT team, commonly in the finance or public sectors.

As you would expect, this role demands a high level of computing expertise and many employers will be looking for a degree in a related field – computer science, mathematics, business management, applied science, etc. It is possible to break into the industry without a degree, but you will still need proof of extensive technological training and you may have to work harder to prove yourself.

Is it an attractive career choice? Yes. For someone with the right mindset, who is prepared to put in extra hours to meet deadline, who is fluent in computer language and programming and who enjoys spending long hours at a computer terminal, the possibilities are endless. Apps are ever-increasing as we find more and more ways of making life easier and more convenient. They span a wide range of technology from PCs and MacBooks to mobile devices and the industry is just going to keep growing. Wages are hugely variable depending on the business sector and your experience, but could easily be anything between $70,000 and $150,000 per annum.

Alongside your qualifications, your resume must demonstrate proven programming and technical skills, creativity and innovation, problem solving, analysis, attention to detail, an in-depth understanding of business needs and confident communication. A daunting list – but if you want to be shaping the future of business and technology then it is a list well worth acquiring.

Pay

As mentioned above wages for App Devs are all over the place, literally and figuratively speaking. The ranges can vary drastically depending on skill level (entry vs senior, specialized vs full-stack) as well as geographic location, with cities like San Fransisco paying much more than other inner-country mid tier cities. The industry can also play a large role in compensation, with bootstrapped startups at the bottom end of the scale and enterprise devs and VC backed unicorns at the other extreme

App Developer Salary Statistics

2016 Median Pay
$102,280 per year
$49.17 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education
Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
Not required
On-the-job Training
Not required
Number of Jobs, 2016
1,114,000
Job Outlook, 2014-2024
+17%
Employment Change, 2014-2024
+186,600
Sources: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics & Payscale

Note the above table does not take into account equity and stock options which can be a HUGE part of a developer’s compensation package. Make sure you separate the two and keep them both at the forefront when negotiating your salary.

Industry Forecast

Growth rates for software developers between 2014 and 2024 is around 17%, which is a full 10 percentage points higher than the national average for all occupations combined, which are only expected to grow at around 7% in the same time. What’s more, within the software development industry “application”, that is mobile-related development industries, are expected to grow at 19% from 2014-2024 which means this is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States.

Growth is good, but it also means competition will be fierce. For this reason, it pays to put forth 110% not only in creating your online portfolio but also writing a standardized resume to send to companies to BRING eyes to your online presence.

Types of App Developers

“App” or “Application” developers can be categorized on multiple levels. While people may lump them all together in daily conversation, knowing how to conduct a job search with more precise job title parameters will yield much more relevant results and increase your overall success rate.

The first distinction is mobile vs. web. You will either delineate a preference for native mobile app development or web based mobile development. Essentially, do you create direct for cell phone use and is your product sold via Google Play or the App Store, or do you create for the web applications that can be used via desktop and are responsive and can be used on phones and tablets as well?

The distinction will dictate the type of skills you include on your resume, with native mobile devs focusing on Java (for Android) or Objective-C (for Apple) and web-based devs knowing older basic markup and programming languages like HTML5, Javascript, etc.  It pays to specify whether you are mobile or web-based AND if mobile focused, which platform you specialize in. If you are knowledgeable in both, all the better; your opportunities are endless!

After skills-based categorization comes seniority based categorization. These titles are dependent on your years of experience instead of your skills. Titles include Application Developer, Junior Developer, Software Engineer, Senior App Developer, or Software Architect. If working in a small startup, you may hold CTO/CIO or even CEO titles as well.

Resume Download

Below is an example of a professionally written real-life app developer resume you can use to get an idea of the type of standardized application many HR’s are looking for when evaluating candidates.

View Large Version

How To Write Your Own

Below are some tips for making your resume stand out in this hyper-competitive industry. Feel free to leave any questions you may have in the comments below at the bottom of this page.

Save Creativity for Portfolio

A resume may seem a little dry for such creative professionals, but it is, unfortunately, a necessary step before being able to exhibit your coding skills. Do not get too fancy here, stick with sans serif font (that is one void of little decorative details), standardized margins and with all the classic elements including career objective, professional experience, education and additional skills sections.

Where then might you be able to showcase your digital work? Well , in your online portfolio, of course! Whether you have a stand alone site that showcases your own hobby development work or you share bits of code on sites like Github, you will link the reader of your resume to this property via a URL at the top of the resume under your contact information.

The resume is the front of the mullet and your online portfolio is the back of the mullet. What we mean is the resume is all business, whereas when it comes to showing off your skills in your portfolio, the sky is the limit!

Quantify Achievements

While you might think like an engineer, your resume will be more impressive if you can communicate your responsibilities and achievements in business-speak so “the suits” that will be reading it can have something to get passionate about should they not be developers themselves. Stating the total user base of your application, number of monthly downloads or revenue earned in actual figures will help provide more weight to you achievements and also jump off the page, grabbing the reader’s attention and not letting go.

You can get creative with what you quantify. Of course, seeking big bottom-line figures is optimal, but including things like size of a team you managed or bug reduction rates in percentage terms are both examples of how you can find quantification in just about everything you do.

Specify Specialities

Do not be afraid to get technical when writing out your experiences and skills. Do not worry about HR readers not being complete dev whizzes; they will know the languages/skills to look out for since, well, they are a critical aspect to the position they are trying to fill. For example, if applying for an enterprise level job, then stating your mastery of the latest version of Solaris by Oracle would be a good addition.

On the app front, be sure to include the language you used when you developed a specific app in your experience section, from HTML 5 and Java to Objective-C and Swift or C++ if you specialize in Android or C# for Windows platforms. Whatever does not fit naturally in the experience section when describing what you created can be included in the additional skills section at the bottom of the resume.

Sample Bullet Points

Below are some highly prized experiences for software engineers you can use and build off of when filling out the body of your own resume.

Sample App Developer Bullet Points

Task
Modify existing software to correct errors, allow it to adapt to new hardware, or to improve its performance.
Develop and direct software system testing and validation procedures, programming, and documentation.
Confer with systems analysts, engineers, programmers and others to design system and to obtain information on project limitations and capabilities, performance requirements and interfaces.
Analyze user needs and software requirements to determine feasibility of design within time and cost constraints.
Design, develop and modify software systems, using scientific analysis and mathematical models to predict and measure outcome and consequences of design.
Store, retrieve, and manipulate data for analysis of system capabilities and requirements.
Consult with customers about software system design and maintenance.
Supervise the work of programmers, technologists and technicians and other engineering and scientific personnel.
Coordinate software system installation and monitor equipment functioning to ensure specifications are met.
Obtain and evaluate information on factors such as reporting formats required, costs, and security needs to determine hardware configuration.
Determine system performance standards.
Train users to use new or modified equipment.
Specify power supply requirements and configuration.
Recommend purchase of equipment to control dust, temperature, and humidity in area of system installation.
Analyze information to determine, recommend, and plan computer specifications and layouts, and peripheral equipment modifications.

Career Objective

The career objective is 1-2 sentences that describe your experience level, often numerically in years, and the position you are seeking. This means that each objective should be customized for each position you are applying to. Given this is the first thing on the resume that HR’s will be reading, it pays to invest in customization as sending a boring generic objective to all applications will do just that, bore the pants off the reader.

If you are a senior level candidate with more than 12 years of experience, you can forego the career objective and instead start your resume off with a qualifications summary. This is essentially just a beefed up version of the career objective, but is more about your career and less about your “objective” as you have already set that and mastered it.

Qualifications summaries can be 3-5 sentences in length and include 4-6 “key” bullet points containing your most paramount skills and/or achievements. Veteran developers are afforded this extra space simply because they usually have far more skills than can be effectively summarized in a short career objective. Objectives are useful for entry-to-mid level applicants because they get to the point, highlight a speciality and pinpoint a career trajectory in the form of a specific role the applicant is seeking to fulfill.

Additional Skills & Certifications

Below are some examples of highly sought after soft skills that can work to compliment your “hard” engineering skills. At the end of the day, very few companies want to hire highly proficient robots. Companies want individuals capable of critical thinking, problem solving and communicating effectively with their peers to help grow their businesses.

Useful Skills to Include

State all the languages you are familiar with, even if you have not fully perfected their use or have not yet fully gotten caught up-to-date with a most recent version. A few of the big ones to help you get the juices flowing include Java/J2EE, Oracle, JavaScript, ASP.NET Framework, C#, Microsoft SQL Server, HTML, jQuery, C++, etc. Blast them with everything you have here in the technical department, as these are your “badges of honor” and will directly translate into increased salary figures.

Use the more interpersonal type skills below in tandem with the above hard-skills to communicate to employers that you are not just a coding robot, but you also have the problem solving, critical thinking and leadership skills required to not only function within a team-environment but also grow as it grows, meaning taking on more responsibilities, which equates to promotions and more money.

Useful App Developer Additional Skills

SkillSkill Description
Complex Problem SolvingIdentifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
ProgrammingWriting computer programs for various purposes.
Systems AnalysisDetermining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
Judgment and Decision MakingConsidering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Systems EvaluationIdentifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
Critical ThinkingUsing logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Operations AnalysisAnalyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
Active ListeningGiving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
SpeakingTalking to others to convey information effectively.
MathematicsUsing mathematics to solve problems.
Reading ComprehensionUnderstanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Technology DesignGenerating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.
TroubleshootingDetermining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
Time ManagementManaging one's own time and the time of others.
MonitoringMonitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
CoordinationAdjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
WritingCommunicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Management of Personnel ResourcesMotivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
Active LearningUnderstanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Quality Control AnalysisConducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
ScienceUsing scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Social PerceptivenessBeing aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
PersuasionPersuading others to change their minds or behavior.
InstructingTeaching others how to do something.
Service OrientationActively looking for ways to help people.
Operation MonitoringWatching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Learning StrategiesSelecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
NegotiationBringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
Operation and ControlControlling operations of equipment or systems.
Equipment SelectionDetermining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
InstallationInstalling equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.
Management of Financial ResourcesDetermining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.
Management of Material ResourcesObtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.
Equipment MaintenancePerforming routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
RepairingRepairing machines or systems using the needed tools.

Additional Resources