Crafting the Perfect CV (Experienced Edition)
Following on from Doug’s top tips for graduates putting together their first CV, I thought I’d chip in with my two cents on how an experienced technology professional can lay out their CV for maximum results (and minimum faff/requests from recruiters for revision!) and some common pitfalls to avoid.
There’s an oft-quoted statistic (that I’m too lazy to fact check) that the person reviewing your CV spends only 7-10 seconds looking at it before making up their mind. A “skills matrix” or easy to read summary of the technology and tools you’re comfortable with is a good way to go (avoid dumping on loads of tools you’ve only “touched” or read about) and skip the Pokémon
If your CV is longer than two pages, don’t stress – especially if you’re a seasoned professional with many years of wisdom/experience. As long as it’s all relevant stuff, then it deserves to be there. If you’re really struggling to condense your CV, bullet points might help. Bullet points are also easier for the human eye to digest than large walls of text (see: 7-10 seconds before a decision is made).
Important: get your CV past the robots!
Our very own Michael recently wrote about the rise of the “robot recruiter” or ATS (Applicant Tracking System). Unless you’re popping your CV in the post, or sending it via fax, the first “person” to read your CV will, most likely, be a “robot” – or at least a piece of parsing software. Here are some tips to get your CV past the robots:
- Don’t have critical information (contact details, name, location/postcode) in headers/footers or especially in Text Boxes – the software often doesn’t “read” these.
- Keep formatting simple – avoid unnecessary tables/images which will inevitably get reformatted in a less-than-pretty way.
- Word documents are generally handled better than PDFs.
Some CV basics (might sound obvious, but you’d be surprised!):
- PLEASE proofread your CV – if spelling and grammar are not your forte, rope in a pal (or a friendly recruiter!) to look it over.
- Choose an appropriate font (and size and colour) and keep it consistent throughout. Remember the “don’t use Comic Sans – we are a Fortune 500 company, not a lemonade stand” meme? Yeah…don’t be that guy.
- Don’t get too smart – your CV is a video game? Cool…but how do I contact you? How do I share with my client?
- Location (including postcode) is essential – it’s how recruiters and prospective employers find you.
- Weird one; please use a “portrait” orientation, not “landscape”.
- Unless your hobbies are really interesting, I’d skip it – we’ve all read Harry Potter and we all say we go to the gym…
- Spell check again, just to be sure!
If you’re ever in doubt, let us help you! We look at dozens (hundreds?) of CVs every day and we’re here to help!
Senior Recruitment Consultant – Software and Web Development
0131 510 1500