For Techies: Raise The Bar For Your CV

For Techies: Raise The Bar For Your CV

 

Résumé trends change very fast, especially in tech. In spite of that, there are some elements that remain relevant to this day.

Since the launch of the Relocate job board, over 3,000 résumés have been received and forwarded to European technology companies. Below are the conclusions we came to based on our experience.

 

Résumé Size

Your résumé should be one page (unless it absolutely needs to be longer). Why? Recruiters and hiring managers usually spend only 10 seconds viewing any given résumé. Thus, it’s highly recommended to list all your professional skills right on the first lines of your CV to capture their attention.

 

Résumé File Format

Don’t let the wrong file format be your CV’s downfall. ‘Word is not the king, it was in 2003,’ says Bernardo Sulzbach. It should be a PDF by default unless you’re asked about another one, e.g., a DOC file or some other format.

 

No CV Titles, Use Your Name Instead

There is no silver bullet for an effective CV title. Just try to avoid any titles at all. Recruiters are skilled at learning what you’re all about by reading the content in your résumé. By including a specific title, you run the risk of throwing them off and reducing your chances of being offered an alternate role.

 

Don’t Look For Easy Ways

The ‘Export to PDF’ option on LinkedIn isn’t the same as crafting a good CV – in fact, these are two entirely different things. Even if your LinkedIn profile contains enough info about you, sending it as a PDF will hardly grab recruiters’ attention. Most of the companies you’ll apply to actively check LinkedIn to see reviews on a certain candidate, find common contacts, etc. It’s still a good idea to add a link to your LinkedIn profile to the cover letter, but don’t rely on it as your CV.

 

‘Sweets’

A good CV should have something to differentiate it from a boring wall of plain text. Try employing a good sense of humor, self deprecation, or some interesting numbers and facts: e.g., over 3M lines of code were covered with unit tests, 5 reasons why employers should hire YOU, etc. These simple things will make your CV stand out among the rest.

 

Where Is The Passion?

It’s no secret that every company wants passionate and enthusiastic employees who live for the job. Hence, it’s advisable to show this ‘passion’ in your CV:

 

Achievements

It’s always a good idea to talk about the tasks that you were performing while working on a project in the perfect tense (developed, implemented, optimized, etc.). In doing so, you’ll enable an employer to measure your worth in concrete terms. Plus, very few candidates put their achievements on the résumés, so it’ll help you stand out. I’d suggest that you use the following expressions:

 

Describing Your Work Projects

There’s no need to describe all your projects. Pick two or three and provide a good overview. Very often, screening CVs from our Relocate tech job board, I come across project descriptions that go like this:

Since 2009: Huffingtonpost.com, Software Developer

Brevity is key, indeed. However, The Huffington Post is the largest news portal in the USA and one of the TOP100 most visited websites in the world. The company was acquired by AOL which is a huge corporation as well. These are the facts that I would definitely mention in the CV.

When describing a project, you should choose 2-3 sentences that would best tell about the tasks you completed. Give a few links to the website/App Store/Play Market (if any) along with other interesting facts like:

 

Personal Projects

To write a good CV, you should talk briefly about the projects you may have done ‘for fun’ and all those interesting things you were doing whilst working on the project along with its social use (even banal enrichment of an owner can be presented in a favorable way that will enhance your résumé).

 

Summary

You have two choices: write a good summary or write no summary at all. As it typically goes in the beginning of your CV, make the opening lines count. Write a few sentences about your job activity and prove your professionalism. It’s not a simple task (especially when you’re limited by the number of characters). But, if you manage to write a catchy opener, you’ll get +5 to your karma.

Here’s an example of a poor résumé summary:

 

I am a 24-year-old senior developer with 2 years commercial experience in Android development and about 4 years in Java. A focused, goal-oriented, fast learning, responsible team player. Strong understanding of programming methodologies, able to develop and integrate Android apps using different modern frameworks and approaches.

 

Let’s take that same information and craft a much better summary:

 

I’m a passionate and agile-minded software engineer who is scrupulous about the details. Having started coding in Java during my 2nd course at University and learning ‘Thinking in Java’ by Bruce Eckel almost by heart, I’ve been totally committed to Android development for the past 2 years. I am a big fan of low-level things like memory management, multithreading, etc. and believe that TDD will change the world for the better.

 

‘80 level’ summary is when you’re capable of describing yourself with a single sentence, so-called ‘self-identification’. Here’s an example:

 

CTO, grown from LAMP developer with huge passion in UX/product management.

 

Listing Your Technological Proficiency

This is where most tech applicants don’t show restraint. They commonly list all the technologies they’ve ever worked with, even on a casual basis. Don’t do that. Instead, mention those ones that you feel confident with and demonstrate your superior knowledge. For example, Java (expert), C++ (basic), PHP (proficient), JavaScript (mother tongue). I can assure you, employers won’t judge you on these criteria alone. But, if you overload your CV by listing too much, it’s liable to work against you in the long run.

Don’t write that you’re proficient with Microsoft Office suite or an advanced user of Linux, CorelDRAW, Fortran. Agile, Scrum, and Project Management shouldn’t be listed among your technical skills either. Do you think that the more you use words like ‘Agile’ and ‘Scrum’ in your CV, the better it will be? Sorry, that’s not true. Recruiters perform a ‘quick scan’ of most résumés, and can easily identify the mindset of its author and see whether he/she is truly ‘Agile’.

One final note here: don’t forget to update your résumé every few months as your technology skills change and grow.

 

Your Work Experience Section

All your projects and professional experience from 3-4 years ago won’t be of interest to your potential employer. Even if you used to work with the required technologies, a lot of time has passed since then. Therefore, if you want to make your CV really good, get rid of outdated facts and talk about those projects that have a true value to your employer.

 

Trimming The Fat From Your CV

You can eliminate all the tables in your CV and get straight to the point. Don’t use headings that go as follows:

Instead of writing a telephone number, give your actual number. Instead of including date of birth, use your age. The list goes on, but the general idea is that it’s not worth writing general phrases that pretty much everyone else uses. Don’t describe your hobby in details. A photo is not a must either. For technology companies, your ‘portrait’ on GitHub comes before your photograph, indeed.

 

Forget about Yahoo!

Don’t give recruiters the impression that you’re stuck in the past. If you are still using Yahoo or Hotmail, it’s time to create a Gmail account, or, alternatively, tie an email to your website.

 

The Finishing Touches

Remember that there’s no one CV and cover letter that will suit all your needs. Always assess the situation first and modify your CV and cover letter, taking into account the exact company/position you’re applying for and your own desire to work there.

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