We all know the importance of the CV. It’s the first impression people get of you and can put you in pole position for a new job or can do you a serious injustice if it’s not right.
Did you know that the average time spent looking at a CV is just 6 seconds? So it’s crucial you get it right.
So why is this? Well as someone that reads hundreds of CVs every day, I can tell you that we look for:
- Location – is it right?
- Current Position – is it relevant?
- Experience – do they match the requirement?
- Technical skills – do they have the skills we’re looking for and are they current?
- Layout – is the CV a mess or is it laid out well?
I would estimate that around 80% of CVs are quickly screened for this and if they don’t match up, they are rejected. And it really doesn’t take long to make that quick decision.
If, however they tick these boxes, they then get properly read and taken seriously. And this is what you want for your CV to maximise your chances of getting that perfect job.
This is the first thing we should focus on. The CV needs to look professional, well laid out and demonstrate that you’ve put some real effort into getting it right. Personally, I like to lay everything out to the left, but that really doesn’t matter – taste and preference variations are fine. Same goes for fonts although don’t go for anything too fancy or that’s anything other than easy to read but does it look smart and does it clearly give the key information that the reader is looking for?
So, I want to know the following:
- We understand that you might not want to volunteer your full address, but you should certainly have a location under your name. It’s key to everybody considering your application.
- Nationality / Visa Status:
- Driving Licence:
- (if relevant to the position – i.e. a field-based position)
- Contact Details:
- Phone number and email. Essential!
- Marital Status:
- No harm in it but not necessary for short listing.
- Date of Birth:
- You are under not obligation to give anyone your date of birth, but some people like to have it to their CV. Either way is fine.
- We get asked this all the time! There is no right or wrong answer to this, but we put a blog together exploring this in detail! Have a read! https://itrec.websitepreview.org.uk/should-i-put-my-photo-on-my-cv/
- Ethnic Background:
- Not relevant to your application and so I wouldn’t put it on the CV. But I know some of our candidates like to and that’s fine.
And what NOT to put on your CV:
- National Insurance Number:
- Unfortunately, job board databases are often targeted by unscrupulous people looking to clone IDs. It’s just another area we need to be careful in. They are great for getting jobs, but don’t give anything away that might put you at risk.
- Passport Number:
- As above. We see a couple of CVs a day with NI and passport details on so make sure it’s not you.
- Any photo that is not professional:
- Even an overly casual or grumpy picture can really harm your chances. See blog as mentioned.
- Work Phone Number:
- Unless you are absolutely sure that you can take a call about a new job – i.e. your own private office and direct line, don’t put work phone numbers on your CV.
Where to put this information?
If this information is key to your application, then it needs to be seen. I much prefer to have this on the front page so that I don’t have to go looking for it. And this is always mirrored by our clients when we discuss CV format. A lot of people like to put this information on the back page and whilst this is not necessarily wrong, is it as user / reader friendly as being on the front page?
BUCKS; HP14 3FE
Tel: 007 007 007 007
Driving Licence: Full Clean
BUCKS; HP14 3FE
Tel: 007 007 007 007
Driving Licence: Full Clean
Bucks; HP14 3FE
Telephone: 0844 8794523
Mobile: 007 007 007 007
Are all fine.
A profile sentence is a really good way of giving the reader a short sharp look at who you are and what you do. It can be one sentence or a paragraph; but it shouldn’t waffle, and it is designed to be informative at a glance.
4.5 years of experience in Big Data processing using Apache Hadoop development, data architecture and system design.
A Highly motivated IT professional with over 10 years’ experience in providing technical support. Can learn quickly and prioritise work which allows me to bring high productivity to any position. Good problem-solving skills and can communicate effectively at all levels within an organisation. I enjoy working in a team but am also equally comfortable working on my own.
Some people like to talk about being honest of conscientious. Or a self-starter, good in a team. It doesn’t matter, but it should focus on the key technical skills and job title that you are looking to promote yourself with.
Education / Relevant Qualifications
Now this is relevant education. Not all your GCSE’s and A-Levels. This is where you summarise your degree, or CCNA or Prince 2 Foundation.
Bachelor of Technology in Computer Science and Engineering (2012-2016)
100% School of Networking (2014)
If you wish to list your full school education, this can be relegated to the final page. It’s not normally the deciding factor in progressing your application; but industry qualifications are.
A technical summary on the first page can make all the difference. If the hiring manager is looking for a Java Developer and they see this on your front page, immediately they are taking your application seriously.
Don’t list everything you’ve ever worked on though. Keep it current, relevant to the position you’re looking for and precise.
It’s also worth noting that many recruiters and HR professionals that are shortlisting CVs are not technical and often use word search to see how many times “Java Developer” or “Active Directory” comes up in your CV. It’s the same if you’ve uploaded your CV onto a job board.
The key phrases are what will ensure you’re found ahead of the next candidate.
- C, C++,SQL, Java, Hadoop
- Big Data Technologies:
- Apache Hadoop, Map-Reduce, HDFS, Pig, Hive, Hbase and Sqoop
- JAVA Technologies:
- Spring, Structs, Hibernate, JDBC, JSP, WEB Services
- Oracle 9i/10g/11.2.1, MS SQL 2008/2012, MS Access
- MS PowerPoint, MS Word, MS Excel
- App / Web Servers:
- Tomcat 6.0/7.0/8.0 and JBoss. 4.0, Maven
- Operating Systems:
- Linux(RedHat, Centos), Windows 2008/2012/Win 8.1/10
- Development Tools:
- Eclipse, Visual Studio, MYSQL Workbench, SQL+
|Smart boards & related software, Smart interactive Sympodium systems, Motorised projector systems, RoomWizard, Tandberg VC hardware on ISDN & IP, Polycom Round tables (CX5000HD) and spider phones (digital & Analogue) and Telepresence suite
|Windows XP /Windows 7 / Windows 8/8.1 / Windows 10
|Outlook 2010, Outlook 2013 (0ffice 365), Office 365 administration portal, including MSWord, Excel, PowerPoint, Skype for Business, MS Lync 2010, Active directory administration, McAfee epo console administrator, Supportworks hornbill call logging system, Mobile Iron configuration, Airwatch administration
|LAN and Wifi, Security and permissions, network patching / fault finding on switches
|Smart board technical training certified, Smart installation training certified, HP Support Certified - Desktops, Workstations and Notebooks (2013), Multi-Function Displays, Plasma’s, LCD’s, Projectors, MFD’s, other Video Conferencing Equipment, desktops, laptops, hybrid laptops and tablets
|CSCS Card Holder, Fire Core and Engineering Training Modules and my Safety Passport CCNSG/ECITB
Next comes your professional experience. Key points.
- It should be in reverse order – i.e. start with your current position first and work backwards.
- You should start with the company name, position and dates. If you are still there, then list it as 2009 to date.
- A short introduction is good. It should give a summary of your position followed by bullet point specifics.
100% IT Recruitment Ltd
IT Support Supervisor
April 2010 – date
Responsible for the operation and smooth running of the firm’s IT infrastructure. This includes the telephone system, desktop PCs, servers, Internet & email, database administration and any other IT hardware.
Other duties include:
- Designing procedures to make the IT system run more smoothly and efficiently and implementing them across the firm.
- Identifying and resolving problems with hardware, software and the network generally (including Internet and e-mail) and/or assisting in their resolution with other members of staff and/or our IT suppliers and/or IT maintenance support contractors.
- Logging calls with our IT Suppliers by means of email or telephone and working with the suppliers to implement fixes and problem resolutions.
- Perform routine backups and archival of files stored on the network to assist with disaster recovery.
- Introducing and conducting staff IT training to maximise efficient usage of all IT equipment on a continual basis.
- Keeping up to date with and advising the Partners of all IT developments and emerging technologies which might assist the Firm and advise the Partners generally about IT matters.
- Dealing with our IT suppliers and engineers, and with the purchase of all IT related supplies.
- Assisting with all other matters arising in connection with the use of computers and related machines within the office, including marketing.
- Running projects in connection with our computer systems such as to choose new software, find new service suppliers.
For more technically specific positions – i.e. Developer posts. It can be a really good idea to have a technical environment section like this.
100% Investment Bank, London
Duration: April 2013 – June 2017
Role: Java Developer
Working as part of a team of 10 as a lead Java Developer involved in full life cycle development of bespoke software for the purposes of financial transactions between banks and other financial organisations across the world.
Java 6, Spring Integration, Spring Framework, RMI, JMS, IBM MQ, TDD, BDD, Agile scrum, Tibco MQ, Tibco RV, Hibernate, Restful Web Services, XML, XSD, XPath, Sybase database, Unix Scripts, IntelliJ IDEA 12.1.1, Tortoise SVN, Mockito, Easy Mock, PowerMock, Maven, JUnit, Jenkins, Squirrel SQL Client, Unix, Windows 7.
- Gathering business requirements for specific financial organisations.
- Involved in developing application components in an agile scrum, TDD environment.
- Responsible for developing reservations requests to reserve bonds, cash etc.
- Responsible for developing Junit test cases using Mockito, PowerMock and EasyMock.
- Fixed legacy applications live issues and promoted to live server.
- Developed Unix scripts to run the Java applications in UNIX.
Now this is an important point. The same position can have lots of different Job Titles. So a “Field Service Engineer” can also be called:
- “Customer Service Engineer”
- “Field Engineer”
- “Field Technician”
- “Mobile Engineer”
Or a “Software Developer” could be:
- “Software Engineer”
- “.NET Developer”
- “Java Developer”
So the point of this is that if your job title is slightly out of the ordinary, you probably won’t get found on the job boards; or in extreme cases, you might get overlooked by the reader of the CV if they don’t reaslise that a UAT is the same thing as a Tester.
So, you might want to think about your Job Title. Of course, it must be accurate but perhaps rather than calling yourself a “mobile technician” which will hardly ever be searched, perhaps list it as a “Field Service Engineer” which will always be searched. Or if you’re not comfortable doing that, make sure that the text in your job description mentions the words “Field Service Engineer”. i.e. “working in the capacity of a Field Service Engineer, I am responsible for ……”.
Length of CV
At this point, you may well start considering the fact that your CV could go on and on and on. Especially if you’ve been doing this for 15 to 20 years.
So how long should your CV be?
Well the good news is that the old school rule of 2 pages is well and truly dead – particularly for a technical CV. But you need to be sensible about this and anything above 4 pages is probably going to start to detract from the readers interest.
If you’ve been doing IT Support for 10 years, and had 4 different positions, the detail needs to be in the last 2 jobs. The previous 2 positions can then be a one-line entry to just show when you started.
You must avoid waffle. Especially if it’s making your CV too long. Remember to re-read your CV to make sure it works. Get someone else to read it and tell you if it reads well and is engaging.
And anywhere that is just supporting information, keep to a succinct entry. For example:
Maths(A), English(C), French(B), Geography(A), History(A)
Is better than:
Once you’ve finished with your Professional Experience, we’re nearly there.
This is now the time for your school Education. It doesn’t have to be too expansive but as we’ve shown above. It would be different if we were going for a Grad position or a post that focusses heavily on your GCSE’s and A Levels, but this is not the case for most IT positions.
Hobbies and Interests
Now this is key. So far, it’s all been a very technical read. It’s about your skills and not you. That’s the most important thing in a technical CV, but let’s give them a snap shot of who you actually are outside of the IT Department.
- Avoid anything wishy washy. Socialising with friends or watching tele
- Don’t put anything in here that isn’t true. A lot of interviewers will lighten the mood of an interview by discussing your hobbies and interests. So, if you say you’re an avid Arsenal fan and they actually ARE an avid Arsenal fan, that could get very uncomfortable!
- Go on and on and on. A reasonable length is 2 or 3 lines or 3 to 4 bullet points
- Lead with anything genuinely recreational. So, sports, musical interest, armature dramatics. Such as:
I am a Brown belt at Judo and help teach at High Wycombe Judo club on a weekly basis. I am also a keen football fan and support Wycombe Wanders.
Next – (if it’s true). Let’s get in there that we are a lover of technology. They are looking for someone who is interested and passionate about IT. Let’s make sure they know that’s us!
I am a keen follower of IT and have build a small server farm at home and regularly try out new operating systems and security.
I am passionate about coding and have built several Websites in PHP and C#.
Don’t go overboard with this – but just a short line to show you’re a tech head.
Available on request.
You can list references if you wish, but it isn’t necessary at this point and I would suggest a simple line like this is best.
That really is about it. But if you wish to add any supporting text or statements, then that’s fine. Just keep in mind that it must be relevant and interesting. Not words for the sake of words.
Some candidates like to add a full technical summary or Matrix at the end of the CV. I would suggest that the Technical Summary we did on page one is enough, but there are no right or wrong answers to this.
For more information on writing a technical CV, please feel free to contact us and we will be very happy to assist you.
Thanks for reading and good luck with your CV.