Yes, a good CV does not a good coder make. However, a well-written software engineer CV can make a big difference. Let’s explore some insider tips that will help you write a good tech/developer/engineer resume and gain a competitive advantage.
Why Writing A Good CV is Important
The main function of a CV is to record career achievements and to share what skills a person has. It is useful to recruiters, internal hiring managers, company owners and more. But why is it so important? There are several main reasons:
- Keywords for searching profiles
- Demonstrating written communication, presentation, and attention to detail
- Indicate worthiness for your desired jobs
- Save time in interviews
In fact, your CV is a ticket that gets you into the right interviews. If your CV does not have the right keywords recruiters can miss your profile. Imagine a back-end engineer who has been using MongoDB a lot, but fails to list it or any other NoSQL databases. Recruiters looking for solid NoSQL talents will skip right over it – and rightly so.
Further, a CV with badly formatted content and spelling convention mistakes (e.g. “Objective C”) will indicate to sharp hiring managers that the candidate lacks attention to detail. Arguably, that itself should disqualify a candidate from top engineering jobs.
Conversely, write a thorough and well-laid-out CV and the recruiters will find you when recommending appropriate jobs. Then, the quality of the CV will see hiring managers invite you to interviews much more readily.
Key Mistakes To Avoid
Now that we can see the importance and function of a CV in the market, let’s first note some common mistakes. Avoid these to instantly stand out and to ensure you’re not on the losing side.
- Listing technology with which you’re only vaguely familiar.
- Writing only about what your team and project achieved.
- Long paragraphs of wishy-washy prose.
- Over-selling achievements and using grandiose language.
- Poor structure: lack of dates, chronological order missing, hard to follow.
Sometimes professional recruiters and hirers see a long CV full of meandering project descriptions and unending lists of technology. That CV is not going to pass any kind of competitive screening. It’s hard to figure out what strengths (if any) the candidate has. It’s hard to see their career growth or what was a personal achievement as opposed to a team or product achievement. It looks too general and too long and will get a quick dismissal.
Six Steps to CV Success
So, how can you write a CV that works? And by “works” I mean win you the right interviews for the right roles.
- Order everything chronologically (new to old) and keep a consistent structure.
- Summarise technology used for each project/role and indicate in a header your strengths.
- Describe clearly and factually your individual contributions and achievements.
- Format neatly and ensure proper spelling and naming conventions.
- Make sure all tech you can and want to utilise in projects can be keyword searched.
- Have a friendly recruiter or manager read over it for you.
The best tech CVs are well keyworded and very easy to read. Project details are minimal, but clearly cover exactly what you individually contributed. Made some architectural decisions? Please include that. Led the team for implementing Dockers? Mention that. Your team used Selenium for testing but you didn’t really handle testing? Don’t include a windy paragraph about what you teammates achieved with testing.
Conclusions On Good CVs
The longer I have worked in recruitment the more I learn about the value of the CV. It is the only representation candidates have to the key movers of the market.
We read through CVs in seconds. How disrespectful? No, it’s not like that. At Robert Walters we have the largest database of any of the global recruitment firms in Japan. When we look for good Java engineers, we have literally 10k+ to sort through and only a few hours to start contacting the fitting candidates. Even after filtering with keywords we end up with hundreds of candidates.
If your CV looks good, reads well, and is easy to understand, then you will get contacted. If your CV hits the right notes, you will win that interview and have better job options. Bad CVs will lose out at filtering and screening stage – fair or not.
Don’t let yourself down, and make sure your resume is a worthy representation of your skills and value. If you need any advice, email or drop a comment below. I’m generally able to offer brief CV advice if it’s in the tech/digital media areas.