I put myself off writing this post for a long time due to fear as coming across a bit ostentatious (isn’t it ironic that the word ostentatious is itself very ostentatious, anyway..) however, I came across this medium post recently and as it aligns quite closely to my own thoughts I thought I may as well publish. Hopefully, someone will find it useful, if it just comes across as me being picky then fair enough.
I’ve been reviewing developer CVs a fair bit over the last few years, due to a recent recruitment drive, even more so over the past week or two. I don’t work for a big silicon valley tech giant or anything like that, but there are some little things which I see time and time again which I’d like to just pass comment on, I guess you could call them ‘tips’ but I dunno, just things I’ve noticed.
Length & Girth
This isn’t anything new, I’m sure I got told this in year 11 careers advice class but there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to have a CV more than 1 page. 2 pages at an absolute push, anything more than 2, the person reading that CV is already resenting you.
At the risk of coming across harsh, nobody cares that you got an A at GCSE French and worked one summer in Tesco Express. Keep it relevant, read the job ad and show off what skills you have in order to do that job.
You don’t need to list every job you’ve ever done, only the last (most relevant few) even then you don’t need to list everything about each job. Maybe go into a bit of detail about your current/previous role but roles before that, just list the achievements.
Get the order right
I’ve seen so many CVs that start off with qualifications at the top (in chronological order) followed by experience, then finally touching on skills. This is completely backward to me. You want to start the CV with the headlines, the things that are going to have the person at the other end take notice and want to finish reading your CV. Go skills first, read the job ad. If the ad suggets it is looking for developers with experience in Symfony, start off your CV showing off everything you know about Symfony and surrounding ecosystem.
Go easy on the buzzwords
If you’re reading a CV and the person has done nothing more than list a bunch of technologies/buzzwords, you’re gonna think they’ve just put it on the CV for the sake of it, if I see a big list of tech with little to no explanation of any it’s an immediate red flag for me. What is much much better is a small set of relevant technologies with an explanation next to each one as to how you used that tech to solve a problem.
Keep it simple
Black text on white is absolutely fine, preferred even. You don’t need to make your CV look like a website, it doesn’t need colour, those things are merely a distraction (possibly different if you’re going for a design role?).
Some people include a picture of themselves, if you can do it in a subtle way without causing a distraction then fine, but I don’t think it’s particularly necessary to include a pic.
Oh and for the love of god don’t submit a CV in a proprietary format, this includes Microsoft Word. Just use PDF if in any doubt.
My ideal CV
Prob easier if you just see what I think would be my ideal CV: