Category Archives: CV

CV advice from a pro

CV writing (as we all know) is a tricky business. Software developer CVs in particular can be very tough; describing past projects and technologies fluidly leaves a lot of room for error.

You can read more about our thoughts on writing CVs and a complete guide from scratch here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/information-to-include/

We always like to bring you blogs and information from the people that know best – those that review your CVs. Trisha Gee, renowned conference speaker and LMAX technologist, is someone who reviews candidates on a daily basis.

She recently blogged this great guide on what makes a good CV. We highly recommend reading it and then rereading it.

Check out Trisha’s post for her thoughts on how to make your CV great… (or not suck, as Trish puts it). http://mechanitis.blogspot.com/2011/12/how-to-make-your-cv-not-suck.html

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CV Guide: The top 2% of CV’s

Having seen many times which CV’s get interviewed and which candidates get declined, it is not the BEST candidates on the market that get the most interviews. It is the CV’s that are most suited to the requirement. It is not the strongest candidate; it is the most suitable CV. There is a technique, which only a small proportion of the IT Industry use, which allows them to stand head and shoulders above the rest. This technique has always been, and will always be used by the most successful people on the market, the candidates that always seem to be getting interviewed by every company. They are no better than other candidates; they just have more suitable CV’s.

It is simple all you have to do is tailor your CV to each role, if you do some research you should be able to work out from a job spec, company web site or job advert a little about what the company is looking for. All you have to do is highlight the areas of your background, which will be most appropriate. The trick to doing this is not to look like you have changed your CV for the role but instead to make subtle alterations to your Skills Matrix, Career History and Personal Statement that looks as though they are part of your general CV… and that you just happen to be a perfect candidate for the role.

e.g.

If the prospective employer is an Investment Bank you could talk about your passion for the financial industry, include any involvement you have had with shares etc. and how your career goal is to end up working for a large investment bank.

If the client is a software development company that specialises in Content management systems and you have had experience working on one (even if it is a small amount) then you could include it as being a major point of interest within your personal statement and expand on your experience within your career history.

This simple technique could take only 5-10 minutes of your time to alter your CV and could be the difference between you getting your perfect job and you not even being invited for an interview.

Barry Cranford

@bcrecworks

Barry Cranford is the Managing Director of RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

CV Guide: Supplementary Information

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

Education

This is important and must be honest, as many employers will check. Include any relevant education that you have had including A-Levels, BSc’s, BA’s, MSc’s, MA’s, PhD’s and any other relevant certification that you have received. Keep it very simple. If you are a graduate applying for your first role it is worth explaining your course in more detail, listing details of the course studied, the individual grades and results and what you achieved in your final project.

Hobbies and Personal Interests: Technology

To many, technology is more than just a job. Many developers spend their spare time working on personal projects, open source software, attending evening events and conferences or reading books on the latest technologies. If this is you then mention it at this point on your CV. Many employers eill love to see this sort of thing and will make a CV go straight into the yes pile.

Hobbies and Personal Interests: Other

It is also important to show a bit more of your personality. Do you like sports, travelling, music, scuba diving, socialising. It is good to give away a few details about what you do in your spare time. Don’t include them as a list but write a sentence to show your level of enthusiasm and any achievements you have in your chosen discipline.

Be very careful not to include anything here that could count against you though, once the client gets to know you I’m sure they will understand your Horror movie fetish, but to include it on CV may not give the best first impression.

References

It is not essential to include anything about references as you will be asked upon successful completion of an interview who to apply to. Many people include “references available on request” This information is obvious and will score no brownie points, but will waste valuable space on your CV.

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

CV Guide: Career History

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

This should be presented with the current/most recent company first, and then in reverse chronological order.

Present every company in the same font, size, and format. Include in the title, company name, time period that you were employed there and your job title.

Beneath this you should include a very brief description of the company type/industry and a sentence to describe what the project was trying to achieve. Do not assume that an employer will know what the company does.

Next you should include at least a paragraph on what you did whilst you were there. Start with details of the department you worked in or the projects you worked on. Write about your main responsibilities and include any major achievements, successes or problems, which you resolved. Include any other responsibilities you had including mentoring other staff, or speaking to clients. There is no need to include your reason for leaving, as this is far easier to discuss in an interview.

Finish by summarising all of the main skills you used in the position.

Here is an example:

Jun 2002 – Jul 2005                                             JP Morgan

Senior Software Developer    

JP Morgan is a leading American investment bank with offices in the City of London. While there I worked on a web based trading application.

I worked as a technical lead on the project to create a RESTful web service as part of an existing Java web application. I took responsibility for integrating the architecture for the new features with the existing systems, including rebuilding and extending the data access framework, using Hibernate. I introduced Spring for dependency injection. The database in use was MySql.

I introduced automated acceptance testing to supplement the unit tests already running on JUnit, and encouraged the development team to move towards test driven development (TDD). By the end of the project all of the team were writing tests first for new code.

Continuous Integration was in place using Hudson with Maven to manage builds and dependencies. In this role I have learned how to configure builds using Maven in order to extend the existing build scripts, and integrate these into Hudson to ensure the new features were included in the CI system.

We made use of a number of design patterns including MVC, factory, Singleton and builder.

Technologies used: Java, Spring Core, Spring MVC, Hibernate, Log4j, JSON, RESTful Web Services, MySql, Eclipse, JUnit, Hudson, Maven, Continuous integration

More tips:

– Do not write long descriptions for irrelevant non-technical roles unless you learned relevant skills such as problem solving or attention to detail.
– Explain any gap in your CV.

E.g. Between January 2002 June 2002 I was travelling across Asia.

RecWorks Ltd combine recruitment and social networking services for Java and Graduate Software Developers. To see our latest jobs visit: http://developercareers.recworks.co.uk/online/jobsearch.aspx

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

CV Guide: Technical skills

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

When you talk about technical skills in your CV it’s important to make a distinction between ‘technology portfolio’ and your ‘ability’ as a programmer.

‘Ability’ is a term, which describes who you are. How do you approach programming, what do you value, what is your approach to development.

‘Technology portfolio’ is a term to describe what you have done. Which technologies you have used and what level you consider yourself to be at with those technologies.

Ability

This can be covered in your personal statement as described previously or at the beginning of your technical skills section. Try to describe what is your coding personality or the area of development in which you specialise. Are you passionate about low-level problems or rapid development, performance improvement or fresh new projects. Do you love working in an agile way, do you agree or disagree with TDD, BDD or DDD. All this sort of thing should be covered within your ability statement. This should be kept to one or two sentences maximum.

Technology portfolio

The first question most people will want to answer when looking at your CV is “does this candidate have the right technical experience”. Trying to get this across in a CV is not easy. You need to get across a lot of information using as little space as possible:

–        Technology

–        Versions

–        Number of years experience

–        What level you are at

You should include your Technical skills in your technology portfolio at the beginning of your CV as well as in your Career History. CVs are reviewed by many different people in the process including Recruiters and HR who will want to know if you have experience in a technology but also by technical managers who will want to understand how strong your skills are in that technology.

Many employers become frustrated with CVs that list 100 different technologies as they assume that the developer is lying. It is important to separate the CV into two sections to make the distinction between technologies that you are at an advanced/expert level with and those that you have used once or twice.

In this section of your CV, include every version (or at least the latest version) of each technology you are proficient with. Break down each technology e.g. J2EE comprises many different technologies such as EJB, JSP’s etc. Many busy HR consultants will discard the CV if they do not quickly see the right words they are looking for.

Skill Years Level Skill Years Level
Java J2SE (1.1-1.6) 5 Expert J2EE (EJB, JSP, JDBC, Servlets) 3 Expert
Spring Core, MVC 5 Advanced SQL Server 7/2000 1.5 Advanced

It is also worth noting other technologies that you have come across but wouldn’t consider yourself to have advanced knowledge of in a list after the main table. E.g.

“I have a basic level of skill using: Frameworks such as: Hibernate, OSGi, JPA. Operating systems: Linux, Solaris, HP-UX, Shell Scripting, Languages: C++, C, Scala, Groovy Database: MySQL, Oracle, DB2”

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

Personal Statement

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

Prospective employers will have no idea who you are, your personality, how good you are at your job or your proudest achievements. This is your opportunity to tell them. Most of your CV should be written in a factual professional format but this is your chance to give a bit of yourself away.

I would recommend including some of the following:

  • A brief summary of your career including why you made choices you did
  • Your career goals
  • Your proudest achievements
  • Your proudest personal attributes and strengths
  • Any unique points about you that may not be obvious
  • Your coding personality

This statement does not have to include all of the above information but should be able to give the employer an idea who you are and why you would be an asset to a company that you joined.

When writing a personal statement try to think about what separates you from other people you know in a similar position. You should write with confidence but not arrogance, sell yourself but don’t boast about yourself.

Try to make this one paragraph. It is a brief summary rather than a complete description. The best Salesmen, when making presentations do not list EVERY SINGLE selling point of their product or service. They are selective and only offer relevant information. In other words, don’t feel that you have to list every single attribute that you have, just select the most relevant ones to the employer.

Avoid fluff. Do not use phrases like “I’m a creative problem solver” or “I am a team player” instead Tell the prospective employer your story – why do you like coding, when did you get into it and why. It gives a bit of you away.

A good starting point is: “I first started working with software…”

If you are struggling with inspiration check out this link. Try to find out what separates you from them.

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

Personal information

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

Title your CV with your name, change the size of the font and centre the text, feel free to add bold or underline the name. At this point include any Certifications or Qualifications beneath or next to your name.

John Smith BSc

Or

John Smith

Sun Certified Java Programmer

You should make sure you include the following information:

  • One telephone number
  • One E-mail address
  • Your full address and postcode.
  • Nationality (whilst this is not a prerequisite, we would recommend doing so to avoid the recruiter jumping to incorrect conclusions)

Non-UK Citizen

If you are not a UK Citizen you should include details of your visa or your right to work in the UK, even if you are an EU Citizen. Many recruiters and hiring managers may be new to the industry and not fully aware of the restrictions and/or which countries are in the EU.

Your contact information should all be included in the header of the CV to avoid taking up too much space in the actual CV.

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

CV Guide: Information to include

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

CVs are a highly subjective thing, everyone will read them differently, your CV will be viewed differently by various people in the process. It may be read as a complete document, start to finish, or it may be used purely as a point of reference of your key skills.

Your CV has to be suitable for every scenario, the best way to ensure yours will be successful is to separate it into sections and ensure that each section offers the necessary information as detailed below. This way will ensure the correct information will not be missed.

The recommended length of a CV varies. Many people have heard that a CV should be 2 pages, but I have never had a complaint for a CV being over 2 pages. My recommendation would be to aim for the CV to be 3-4 pages. The important thing is the content not the length. When composing your CV write clearly and concisely. Do not sell yourself short but be careful not to waffle. Take a hint from marketers and salesmen – when writing advertising copy, speeches or sales pitches the content is written and edited many times before a final document is produced. This will be one of the most important documents you will ever write and will dictate your future so it is important that you get it right.

For things to include you should add:

  • Personal information
  • Personal statement
  • Technical skills
  • Career history
  • Supplementary information

Top 2% tip: The top 2% of candidates prepare a general version of their CV and then make subtle changes to highlight your suitability for each position you apply for. See end of guide for a more detailed description of this technique.

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

How a CV should look

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

Professional!
The first impression of a CV is the way it looks, this will be acknowledged before a word is read.

Every hiring manager wants to recruit somebody that can do the job, and do it well. Your CV should always have a professional feel. It should stand out only because of the content and your suitability for the job.

Many people include graphics, logo’s, pictures, stylish fonts and different colours on their CV to make it stand out. This does make the CV stand out but for all the wrong reasons.

Here are some basic guidelines:

Typeface
•    Use a common font such as Times New Roman, Calibri or Arial.
•    Use the same font through the ENTIRE CV. Do not use multiple fonts.

Size
•    Use font size 10-12
•    Keep the same size for all information. Do not vary size for more important information.
•    Do not try to reduce the size of the font to squeeze more information onto the page – it is always obvious and gives a terrible impression

Bold/Underlining
•    Use Bold or Underlining effects very sparingly. Sub-headings, company names are good examples of suitable use of Bold. However when used in the middle of sentences to highlight things, it can give a messy effect and is unnecessary.

Margins
•    It is common for people to change the margins on a page so that they can fit more information on to a page. All CV’s will be formatted by recruitment agencies (had a logo and agency address added) The margins are normally changed back to normal and generally create problems and your CV will almost definitely not look quite right.

Tables
•    Avoid putting your CV/education/work history into tables. They have the opposite effect to margins and can restrict large areas of space. They are also difficult to update or add/remove data to. You should ensure your CV is freely written to allow for maximum flexibility and visual effect.

If you follow the simple instructions above the CV should look clean and professional, it will be easy for anyone to read and will not give anyone a reason to reject you.

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

Make sure your CV does not get rejected

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Your CV is the first impression that a prospective employer will have of you. In about 90% of cases it is the reason why candidates do not get invited in for an interview, even those candidates that would excel at the job if given a chance.

Depending on how many different avenues employers recruit from, most vacancies have over fifty CVs submitted. Companies are not able to run fifty interviews for each position, so they will make a shortlist of the best candidates (usually 10%). This means about 90% of the CV’s will be rejected.

How to make your CV stand out

When trying to reduce a shortlist of CVs from 50 to 5 most people don’t look for CVs that stand out, they look for CVs that are wrong. This way they can rapidly reduce the pile. Hence the way to make a CV stand out is to have nothing wrong with it. The main focus you should keep, when writing your CV, is to give the prospective employer no reason to discard it, and every reason to want to interview you.

As a recruiter I have reviewed over 100,000 CV’s. In doing so I have seen common mistakes repeated over and over again. I have dealt with numerous hiring managers and had many strong candidates denied a chance for interview for the sole reason that their CV was not as good as others submitted. I have learned many keys to successful CV writing.

In my opinion it comes down to two things:

How a CV should look.
This is some guidelines and basic dos and don’ts on putting CV’s together. How they should look and where many people go wrong.

Information to include.
This is a section dedicated to everything you should put in a CV and what format to put it all in.

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

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