Four questions to ask yourself before you write your CV

This post first appeared on the LJC mailing list on Monday 15th July in response to the question of what our thoughts were about what should be included in a CV and our thoughts on CVs place in todays tech job market.

Our current thoughts on the state of play in the market with respect to CVs…

*cracks knuckles*

As many of you will know, I’m no lover of CVs (or job specs for the same reason). On one hand I think most people struggle to get themselves across on a few sheets of paper – some of the best developers I have ever placed have had truly awful CVs (don’t worry, I won’t name names) and on the other hand, because CVs are the accepted medium for recruitment many employers tend to reject 90% of job applications based purely on a CV.

My problem is not necessarily with CVs themselves, but in the industry’s habit of using them to give a first impression. ***Shameless plug – we have started running speed dating style recruitment events termed RecWorking events to do away with using CVs as a first impression, we have an event on 30th July, if anyone would like more information let me know on bc@recworks.co.uk***

Assuming you are interested also in the advice we would offer someone looking for help with their CV, most of my advice is actually not related to the CV itself, but in whether the candidate in question understands what they do and don’t want out of the roles they’re applying for. I believe that once you understand exactly what role you’re looking for, your CV tends to write itself. I’ll often turn the CV over initially and split the page into four sections:

– What do you definitely want from your next role?

– What do you definitely NOT want from your next role?

– Would would you absolutely love in your next role?

– What would you be open minded about?

For me the CV should make it 100% clear what role you’re looking for (making sure that these jobs are available), it should highlight parts of your past that are relevant to this application and ignore those that aren’t. From a conversation around these four questions, I will then usually look at the CV and see that it’s not taken most of this information into account.

The reason I feel this way is because I prefer making exact matches rather than square peg; round hole recruitment. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to a hiring manager that enjoys CV screening. Many will discard 90% of the CVs they receive – what they love is to see is a candidate that is a good fit AND WANTS the exact job that they have on offer, if the CV stands out for being ‘right’ for a position then it almost always results in an interview. This also applies to those in the industry that don’t understand the complexities of technical recruitment and believe me the Java ecosystem is incredibly complex for a non-developer to pick up.

I could go on all day about CVs or recruitment though I’m opinionated in most areas. If you have any specific questions then do come along to an LJC event and I’ll happily sit down and personally review your CV.

Barry Cranford

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