CV Tips from an experienced IT Recruiter

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CV Tips Introduction

Your CV is your introduction to an IT recruiter or an IT Client. Based on these few pages they decide if you move to the next phase of the recruitment process or not.

Your CV is your headline, your wrapping paper, so make sure that it sells you. If the headline does not capture the reader they will not read the detail of the article. If the wrapping is not interesting, the present is assumed to be dull.

There are several ways to get CV improvement.

CV Tip

So your CV needs to be:
1. Concise and to the point
2. Easy to read, well formatted
3. Free from spelling and grammar mistakes
4. Detailed, but not too long

CVs range from a single page of A4 at one extreme to a full 20-page document including a cover page and contents page at the other. Both would have little success with most readers.

How much is too much? In the world of CV writing this is like asking ‘what is the meaning of life?‘

Some CV Tips

Unfortunately for the IT job seeker, CV review is very subjective, but there are some points that you may help you decide if your CV makes the grade.

1. A recruiter or employer may receive upwards of 40 CVs for a single role – that‘s a lot of CVs to read. The human brain and eyes get tired and if faced with a 15 page monster, the reviewer may ‘skim‘ and try to pick out the important bits – they should need to. Your CV should only include the important bits!

2.  Don‘t pad the CV with irrelevant details. IT Clients and IT recruiters do not want to read half a page about how your previous employer was a world leader in providing Telecoms Billing Software. They want to know what you did in order to make their billing software better. A few lines about the company and application are good, but keep it brief – remember who you are trying to sell yourself!

3. Make sure all the really important points are listed at the beginning.

4.  It might look nice to have a cover page – but this just wastes paper and is not necessary. A Personal Summary section on the first page detailing your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address is enough.

CV Tips Summary

Include a ‘Summary‘ or ‘Profile‘ on the first page. A paragraph that gives a brief insight into your skills and experience. This only needs to be a few lines and certainly no more than about 10-15 lines, but should tell the reader exactly what you are capable of.

Example of Great CV using CV Tips

A career tester with 10 years experience of testing and test management. Experienced in formulating test strategies and test plans across all test phases. Have practical experience of writing and executing test cases using both V-Model and Agile approaches, testing CICS Mainframes, VB user interfaces, C++ client-server applications, functional websites, complex multi tier solutions running Java presentation layers over Orbix and MTS middle tiers and Oracle databases, using XML and MQ communication protocols. 5 years team leading and test management experience.

CV Tips – Technical Experience

List technical/application experience, but make sure that you are clear on what applications/platforms you have tested and what you have used.

As a tester including a bullet point that states ‘C++‘, ‘VB‘ or ‘Oracle 9i‘ means nothing. Can you write C++ code or have you tested an application written in C++?

There is a huge difference. Make sure you are clear on what you mean.

CV Tips – Work Summary

There is divided opinion about including a work summary which is then followed by detailed work experience.

Ask yourself what value it adds to list your employers and job roles, then list it all again and include details of your roles, responsibilities and achievements.

You may decide that is does add value – in which case include it.

CV Tips – Work Backwards

When listing your role, work backwards from today. Include all jobs – even if they do not seem relevant.

For example – 2 months working at the local shop. Did you have responsibility for cashing up and locking up at night?

This shows that you are trustworthy – things that seem irrelevant to you, may trigger something in the reader. Obviously don‘t go into huge detail – a line or 2 about ‘irrelevant‘ jobs is enough.

CV Tips Checklist

Make sure that you include the following when detailing your work experience:

1. Employer name and brief address
2. Start and end date
3. Your title/role description
4. List your responsibilities
5. List your achievements in the role (very important)
6. If you got promoted – say so
7. If you got a team player of the month award – say so
8. If you were responsible for a quality initiative – say so
9. Try not to concentrate only on what you did, but also talk about how. For example, instead of saying ‘Wrote test cases’ try something like ‘Extracted testable requirement from Business and Technical specifications and created appropriate test cases to verify the compliance and correctness.’
10. List the application/tools used as part of your role
11. List the applications/platforms tested including the languages the applications were written in.

Avoid Long Sentences

12. Avoid writing long sentences and paragraphs – use bullet points. Bullets are easier on the eye and easier to digest. Remember that you want the reader to read and not skim, so make the format as easy to read as possible.
13. How many of you are struggling to read this article? Well this is only page 2. Image being an employer on page 8 of 12!
14. Include your educational details – list subjects passed and grades
15. Detail any courses attended. Be sure to include the course date, the details of the provider.
16. List any other skills that you have
17. List any foreign languages
18. Finally list some out of work interests.
19. References – include at least 2 referees from previous roles. Make sure that you have correct and up to date contact details for them and check with the referees that they are happy to give references.

CV Tips – Proof Read

Once you have finished your first draft, make sure you proof read it, spell check it and ask a friend of family member to proof read it for you.

Make any changes then re-read your second draft. Make sure that you have included all relevant detail and check that there is no ‘waffle‘ that could be trimmed out.

There is not one right way to write a CV, but if you keep in mind your audience and the reason for writing the CV, you should be most of the way there.

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