With a little care and thought it’s surprisingly easy to make a stand out CV. For those applying for more technical IT roles, especially those looking for junior to mid-senior positions, a few tweaks to the established standards of good CV writing can make your application stand out for both recruiters and hiring managers. The tips below are particularly relevant to those applying for infrastructure, support, development and DBA roles. Here are some ideas to help which should be read in conjunction with an example template provided: –
- A personal summary section can be very powerful if written concisely. It can help present you as an individual, and present your summary strengths, experiences and career aspirations and it will set the scene for your CV.
- Presenting a summary of technical skills very early in a CV helps those who will be assessing your application make a very quick judgment on your technical suitability to the role.
- Summarising technical skills in a bullet point list, over two columns preferably, can bring out your core technical competencies and experiences. Try and keep you core skills to a maximum of 20 and group together technologies that are related.
- In the summary skills section focus on your core technical strengths and try and avoid listing technologies in which you only have a superficial knowledge or exposure to. People reading this section assume you have applied successfully these technologies in real work situations.
- If you do want to list technologies that you have some exposure to, or only know in theory, then make this explicit.
- The section on your work experiences is clearly the heart of any good CV and should clearly show dates, employer, position and whether the role was permanent or contract.
- If your career has been with just one or two employers then break this down into your specific roles at each company, treating each discrete assignment as a separate job.
- Work experience sections should focus on how you have utilised your skills both on a day to day basis and on specific technical projects. Breaking these down into both responsibilities and achievements can summarise your experiences well.
- Avoid just listing different technologies under work experience.
- Be realistic in listing your key responsibilities and achievements – putting in 30 odd different technologies for a one year assignment can undermine credibility.
- Review, update and edit your technical skills and achievements in your CV regularly and remove references to obsolescent technologies if they don’t add much to your current skill set and aspirations.
- Be prepared to have a few CVs relevant to specific specialisms. Many experienced technologists are obviously capable of applying different technical roles. Having CV’s which targeted at the different job types removes the risk of you being seen as a generalist. Writing multiple CV’s is more about emphasis than a total re-write.
Once you have structured and drafted your CV applying some generic CV best practices can improve the quality of your CV further: –
- The general guidance is that CVs should be two to three pages maximum but we feel technical CV’s are fine if they are bit longer. Four pages is probably the maximum but don’t force your CV onto two pages if it becomes hard to read. I would personally prefer a well presented four page CV than a two page CV which is difficult to read.
- Get your CV reviewed by a (non-technical) friend or member of your family. Whilst you CV is by necessity largely technical, readability, punctuation and grammar are very important and getting a non-technical review can be very useful.
- Don’t rush writing your CV. Drafting and honing a CV can take a while and this is especially relevant to technical CV’s. Translating operational technical responsibilities into achievements can be challenging and will require a few drafts.
- Take care over the spell check. It’s particularly important that technical terms aren’t replaced mistakenly or, as important, ensure there are no basic spelling
- View your draft CV on a mobile and see how readable it is. We, like many recruiters, tend to increasingly review initial applications on smartphones.
- if you do convert to a PDF, check it converts properly paying attention to headers and footers.
- Don’t leave major unexplained gaps in the work experience section No one dismisses candidates who have taken a career break, for whatever reason, but unexplained gaps can set alarm bells ringing.
- Educational qualifications, interests and hobbies are best left on the last page.
- Lastly always ensure your contact details both mobile and email are included in the header section of the first page.
By following some of this guidance you should significantly increase your chances of your CV being treated seriously and progressing to the next stage in your application. The attached CV template should be seen a guide only and some personalisation and re-formatting can have additional impact.
The CV template is here Tech CV template