5 Top Tips On Nailing Your CV As A Developer
I have been a Technical Recruiter and Frontend Specialist for over a year now here at DigiTech Search, and have spent hours on end reviewing CVs. I'm always happy to give pointers on how to create one that stands out from the ever-growing competition in the Tech Industry!
A strong CV is your entry ticket to a great job. As well as telling us what you’ve done and what you want to do next, it demonstrates how you think, illustrates your attention to detail, and is indicative of your communication level.
Here are some of the questions we are asked regularly by the candidates we work with:
How long should a technical CV be?
- Don't make it any longer than 3 pages (maximum) or include every piece of detail from your first-ever developer role over 5 years ago. If it looks like it’s going to be a chore wading through pages of dense text, a hiring manager is going to switch off straight away.
- Bullet points are a great way of breaking up blocks of text. USE THEM!
- If you've held a senior role within multiple companies you might want to add more detail, but generally, two to three pages are the maximum you should be aiming for.
- Maintain a clear timeline and explain any gaps. It’s perfectly okay to say you took a month out if you have a reason (parental leave, travel etc), but unfortunately, unexplained gaps can be an issue for some employers.
What makes a good personal profile on a CV?
- Ditch the cliches. Everyone will assume you are a "trustworthy, hard-working" person who is a "good team player" and "punctual", without needing to read it on your CV. Save the space for something more original and specific to the job requirements.
- It is essential for recruiters and potential employers to understand more about what you want to do next, whether that's learning new skills, or managing a team etc, so they will have a better sense of whether their role is a fit for your long-term aspirations, as well as for right now. There is no point in applying for a Team Lead position if you don't feel comfortable leading a team or lack the necessary leadership skills.
- Recruiters also get a lot of questions about whether it's okay to include hobbies - and it definitely is. They really show your personality, but be mindful that your CV should be predominantly focused on your practical skills, with the extras as the icing on the cake.
How do I keep it simple?
- A lot of people think a good CV is about cramming in loads of detail, making it as long as possible, with tonnes of pages. In reality, it’s best to keep it clear, concise, and simple. Say exactly what you DO. The best CVs are the ones you can look at in five seconds and immediately see what someone is really about.
- Only include the skills you want to use and have extensive experience in. You may well have lots of programming languages, frameworks, libraries and other skills you want to cram in, and it can be hard to know where to start. An effective approach is to make a note of your key technologies right at the top of your CV. This makes it really easy for the person reviewing your CV to see what your core tech skills are, and you can go into more detail later, once you've got their interest.
- Avoid listing skills that you have no interest in using in your next role - you'd be surprised how many people make this mistake!
Potential employers – and recruiters – will often perform a search based on keywords, so the more irrelevant the skills you have listed, the more irrelevant calls you are going to receive for unsuitable roles. For example, if you're a front-end developer specialising in ReactJS, and that is what you want to focus on in your next role, make sure you talk about React (rather than listing off PHP frameworks you used going back to 2013 that you're no longer interested in working with).
How do I give context?
- Explain your direct role on projects, what you built and how; whether you were part of a big team or working alone.
- Be precise about exactly what you’ve done, what platforms you’ve worked on, what systems you’ve used, so clients can see your mix of skills and experience.
- Put yourself in the reader’s shoes – if you were reading this CV, what would you like to know about you? This is also a useful exercise when preparing for interviews.
How do I work on the finishing touches?
- It sounds obvious but it’s worth repeating - make sure there are no grammatical or spelling errors!
- Check and check again the dates match up, and that you’ve used the right email address and phone number.
- Use a simple font and clear layout.
- Make sure you check all your links work. It's an easy oversight, but you definitely don't want any broken links or error messages coming up.
- Avoid using photos. They can pull focus from your skills.
- When you’ve finished writing your CV, give it to a trusted friend or colleague for an honest critique.
- Save your document as a pdf. It’s easily viewable on any device and the format won’t change when opened.
The long and short of it is to be precise, to the point and try to leave no questions unanswered- a good CV will answer most, if not all the questions a client has!