Curriculum Vitae - must rage
Aaaargh! Just got a bunch of CV's through for a posting at our place, and I'm thoroughly ashamed that IT professionals can get CV's so wrong. I really wanted to contact all of the people who sent a CV to explain to them what they're doing wrong. Since I'm not allowed to do that, I instead present this guide wot I made which explains some do's and don'ts for budding IT professionals... Would be interested to hear if you think I'm being too harsh or if I'm on the money!
CV do's and don'ts.....
- Write a "mission statement" which is meaningless. At most write one or two sentences that describes your qualities and what you're looking for. No-one is impressed by the ability to write pages of waffle or your amazing ability to shift paradigms through your strong belief of teamwork.
- Make a generic CV. I've reviewed CV's that state that the applicant wants a "general" job in IT and they've applied for a programming position. If you seriously want to apply for a programming role, tailor your CV so it mentions that you want to be a programmer. If you are applying for many different kinds of roles, suck it up and produce a version of your CV for each role type you're applying for, don't be lazy and assume that one size fits all.
- Include massive paragraphs about every project you've ever worked on. Some people have documented their whole careers on a project by project basis. No-one has the time to read all of this! Just tell me what technologies you've worked on and what skills you've gained during each job you've had.
- Include notes to anyone in your CV. I had one CV that included a "note to recruitment agencies" in it with a diatribe about only wanting to work within x miles of their home. Remember your audience - most employers will see this as confrontational and will drop your CV like a steaming hot pile of dung.
- Put "using social media" as one of your hobbies/interest. It's not a hobby, it's admitting that you play Farmville, and no-one is impressed by that.
- Apply for jobs that don't meet your criteria. There's very little point applying for a job in the Midlands if your profile says you're only prepared to travel 10 miles from your home in London.
- Fill in your job seeker profile accurately. Remember that many job websites prepend this to your application. If you're going for a hardcore stats programming job and your profile says you want to do web design, employers are unlikely to read past the covering page.
- Include a covering letter. Most CV's that come through from job websites don't even have one or have a generic one supplied by the website - this is a fatal mistake. Remember that this is your foot in the door - a paragraph to describe why you are right for the role, even if you don't strictly meet the entry criteria. Also this can be used to reinforce that you are seriously applying for the job - if you're based in Luton and are applying for a job in Hull, this is your chance to say that you are willing to relocate for the role rather than have the reader scratch their heads about why you've applied for a job so far away.
- Format your CV so it's readable. Big clear headings dividing each section, making sure text wraps where it's supposed to if you're using indents. Employers get loads of CVs each day and tend to want to look at details in a certain order. Help them by formatting it sanely. Also make sure your fonts and sizes are consistent, this document should be perfect - it's a reflection of your attention to detail. The worst CV so far had almost non-existent headers, wrapping problems, sections with different spacing and inconsistent fonts in the same paragraph. There's literally no excuse for someone in the tech biz not knowing how to format a freaking Word document.
- Proofread and get others to read your CV. So many CV's come in with spelling mistakes, grammar problems and mess-ups of catastrophic proportions. I had one the other day where the candidate didn't even spell the name of software they claimed to specialise in correctly. These CV's tend to lose you any credibility and end up in the bin.
- Highlight skills you think are applicable for the roles you are applying for. When you're reading lots of CV's a day, it helps tremendously when the author has highlighted the keywords you're looking for in a CV. For example, in a paragraph describing what you do in your current job, highlight the tools & skills you use in bold.
- Restrict the number of pages. I'd expect a graduate level role to come in at 2 sides of A4. A more senior role may stretch out to 3 sides, 4 maximum if you've literally done everything that is possible within your chosen career. Any more than this and you're formatting it wrong or adding too much information.
- Put on your name and contact details! The CV is a way of selling yourself. If you don't put on your name, address, telephone and e-mail details you're doing a poor job.