back to article Why your tech CV sucks

No, really. Your CV really, really stinks. I read these things for a living and the quality varies a lot more than it should considering what you are selling. Over the next few years you are asking to be paid more than the cost of a Ferrari and the desk space, computer kit and coffee you use over that time means you cost at …


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  1. Scott A. Brown

    What the hell is this guy on about?

    This must have been the most irritating article I've ever read on on here.

    1. Hollerith 1

      If you can't figure out what he is on about...

      ...then please don't apply to my company for work. He is telling you why less than a crisp, focused, professional CV doesn't cut the mustard. Y U No get it?

      1. Scott A. Brown

        Ok, no worries. I don't think I could work for someone who writes something like "Y U No get it?" on a public forum anyway.

        What I was saying is that checking a CV for spelling mistakes is pretty basic stuff, most of it is. For example, why would you even consider highlighting a summer job more than a relevant job to the position you are applying?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I think that's the point

          People are submitting CVs with all these basic mistakes. The whole point of this article is to ridicule people into making sure that they're not the ones making those mistakes.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Yeeeeessss..... and the fact that he had to write all that guff - *was that people are not doing it*

          You or I may well be able to spell (or use a spellcheck) but if you don't - then don't try to get a job via him.

          That's kind of the point of the article - people are shooting themselves in the foot, and making this guys job harder/more annoying.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          " I don't think I could work for someone who writes something like "Y U No get it?" on a public forum anyway."

          Scott, reality check...... This isn't a job interview mate. Your'e just on the innernets posting garbage.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "What I was saying is that checking a CV for spelling mistakes is pretty basic stuff, most of it is. For example, why would you even consider highlighting a summer job more than a relevant job to the position you are applying?"

          Yeah but people dont, alot of people dont, this is why he wrote the artical

          1. Windrose

            At a guess? No.

            "Yeah but people dont, alot of people dont, this is why he wrote the artical"

            At a guess - no. He wrote it so that people would talk about him. He succeeded. His is a singularly useless extra - redundant even! - step in a recruitment process which is already expensive. So he needs to sell himself. Today more people know who he is. Success.

        5. TimeMaster T


          Sounds like you agree with him.

          The authors beef was that , despite the simplicity of avoiding spelling errors many of the documents he sees are riddled with errors. And that many others will fill their CV's with useless fluff. You may not engage in this kind of behavior but many others apparently do.

          From the tone of your comment it does not sound like you are not someone who would make such errors, but it also shows that you are incapable of realizing that other people are not you and that they make those mistakes often enough to piss off a recruiter or HR person.

          If you always assume that everyone is going to be as good as you are you are setting yourself up for some major disappointment.

          1. Marvin the Martian

            Synergy: silly [article], great [article + discussion].

            Basically, there's this extremely arrogant article (consensus says "tosspot") stating some stupidly obvious home truths (how to distinguish yourself from 80% others: by not shooting yourself in the foot), and showing they want YOU to do THEIR work [but don't we all want that? Yet they can, like utilities forcing you into self-reporting, etc]. Article on its own: digital loo paper.

            If you say "what's the point" honestly, then you've a lost cause; but probably the meaning was "this is wrong on so many levels". That's where you have to pick up the article's invite to look at things from the other side -- as in this thread: number NO [because reasonable people cannot work while interrupted] or YES [some jobs only via overpaid interruptors with mental difficulties] plus trivial and cheap solution [use a second phone while on the market] that suits everyone [except cold calling recruiters, boohoo].

            Just like other insects, the ecosystem doesn't care about your low opinion of recruiters --- they're like bouncers but sitting behind behind bullet proof glass: at best your wailing and railing may entertain.

            If prospective employees would pay their fee for landing a job, they'd be treated bette! But you're JUST THE COMMODITY THEY TRADE with the company --- this is not hard to understand. Not fun, not elegant, but simply is -- you win NOTHING by ignoring this or (worse) wasting breath fighting it. So yes, if you reflect a bit on it, your own chances will go up at very little effort and no cost (and the smiling toadie's cv sorting job gets easier -- win/win).

        6. Mike Flugennock

          Y U No get Sarcasm?

          "I don't think I could work for someone who writes something like 'Y U No get it?' on a public forum anyway."

          Uhhmm... I think he was just being sarcastic. I'm sure most of us use the kind of weird, deliberately-misspelled slang in casual personal communication that we'd never use in professional communication.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RE: If you can't figure out what he is on about...

        "Y U No get it?"

        He was also on about using good spelling...

        1. Hollerith 1

          Forgot the JOKE alert

          Y U No ... was supposed to be a sarcastic little joke.

          I am not a recruiter, but I am a senior manager who hires people. When I see a CV that clearly shows the sender hasn't a clue, I figure he hasn't a clue about a lot of things.

      3. Spearchucker Jones

        @Hollerith 1

        All those things are good. What's missing is what's bad.

        My CV is well up to scratch. Every recruiter tells me what a great CV it is. Except that it has no mobile phone number.

        That's intentional.

        Recruiters realise that thy're recruiting people who's product is pure intellect. What those recruiter f*ckwits are completely oblivious to is that an intellectual activity, like writing code or designing a system requires hard-core concentration.

        That concentration becomes almost meditative. There’s no concept of time, no consciousness of effort, and the code I write is quality. It’s a mental state in which I’m most productive.

        And it’s once I’m in that state that, inevitably, a f*cking recruiter phones me.

        It takes time to hit that zone. Reaching that state of deep productivity is a slow process that, depending on what I’m doing, takes me between 10 and 30 minutes. It’s about managing complexity. You’re keeping track of execution flow, variables, constants, asynchronous service calls, event delegates, encryption and compression, exceptions… All that stuff is floating around in your head. At the same time.

        And the phone call kills it off.

        I have no ideas why recruiters don't use email. I started at a new company recently, and the other day I watched three calls within 30 minutes ring until they went to voicemail, all from the guy who placed me, wanting "to know how it's going". F*ck off. Send an email.

        And THAT rant is only the beginning. The other stuff these idiots pull defies belief sometimes. Asking for references to canvas more CVs. Or expecting me to take a 50% drop in salary for an "awesome opportunity".

        Cool. I feel a little better now :-)

        1. Semaj
          Thumb Up


          You are TOTALLY correct.

          I actually asked one of them about the whole demanding phone thing once and she told me (quite honestly) that it's a combination of them being lazy and rubbish at typing and wanting to hear your verbal communication skills.

          There are those who send me a really vague "I have a really cool job on offer - give me a call" emails and those I don't even respond to. If it's that good then give me some details.

          The worst was one which looked good, advertised as being in my home town but it turned out to be in a city in the same region where I had worked previously and left cause it's a shit hole (amongst other things). So don't talk to me about lies on CVs - recruiters lie worse than any applicant.

        2. Hollerith 1

          Mobile numbers -- sort of agree

          Spearchucker (if I may be informal),

          I don't disagree, and I am with you in spirit. I didn't have a mobile for ages, for the reason that I did not want to be called-- or interrupted, or to speak on a bus or on the street, etc.

          However, I slowly realised that not having a mobile made me look a little weird. Like the sort of person who gets sat behind a screen because of the anti-social behaviour, smells, etc. I am perfectly presentable, but not having a mobile was hindering my being taken seriously be employers.

          So I got a BlackBerry so I could do grown-up emailing and that solved the problem.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. heyrick Silver badge

            I have an Android mobile

            And most of the time it's in airplane mode with wifi on, and when it isn't, it is in silent mode. People who haven't yet figured out to email me usually aren't worth my time and effort chasing up.

            Sorry, that's how it is. This recruiter bloke thinks his time is important? Newsflash - so does everybody else...

        3. Gav

          @Hollerith 1

          "And the phone call kills it off."

          If only mobile phones came with an off switch, or maybe even a mute. It would also be cool if they had some kind of answering service where people could leave a message for you to pick up later.

          Why, oh why, has no-one thought of this?

          1. Spearchucker Jones


            Mostly because there are phone calls I want or need to take. Like the ones from wife/kids/emergencies.

            1. rpjs

              Some of the new phones

              Have caller ID.

              You may want to upgrade.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Get a real mobile

              Symbian on Nokia provides a real telephone: just put your contacts into groups, e.g. friends, family, VIP, work, agents. You just enable call reception from the groups you want; the rest get your voice mail.

              Oh, you wnet the Android/iPhone route? Better get a mobile 'phone as well.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward


              Thought you were too deep in intellectual thought to be disturbed by anyone!

          2. AdamWill


            ...some of us have spouses who are likely to alert all six emergency services and the national news media if we fail to answer two phone calls in a row.

        4. Pete 2 Silver badge

          @Spearchucker Jones - Why no mobile number

          > Except that it has no mobile phone number.

          > That's intentional.

          Just like we all use disposable email addresses to "disappear" emails from people we no longer want cluttering up our lives (please don't tell me you only have 1 email address and you give it out to all and sundry!), you should be using a disposable mobile number.

          Everyone has an old phone lying around. Sure it probably can't send email and may not even be 3G. But for the sake of bunging a fiver in the general direction of ASDA and getting a second SIM, there's no reason for not giving people that number. You may not even make any calls from your "burn" phone but for the sake of not giving the recruiter a REASON TO REJECT YOU it's a worthwhile investment.

          Taking a sharp left turn onto a different topic, the biggest mistake you can make on your CV is to let it be known you're over 40.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            yac ?

            I use yac for those annoying boxes on forms that require a telephone number.

            OK I know it cost more to call than a standard mobile but it looks like a mobile to those who don't know better, its free (for me) and it emails me an .mp3 of the voice mail if I don't have it directed to my phone. It also accepts faxes.

            I don't work for yac but I have had a yac number for years, its a great way to divert madness without having to charge, topup, carry around another phone.

          2. 27escape

            Over 40?

            Easy to notice when your first job was back in 1980 something

        5. LaeMing Bronze badge

          I must admit

          I was a latecomer to MoFo ownership. I eventually bought one (well, bought a sim to put in an old one I was given by a friend who's PC I occasionally fixed) explicitly because I wanted to have a MoFo number on my CV.

          My current phone is a bit fancier, but mostly sits on my bedside running a digital clock app all day and night - I have a WiFi-VoIP jobbie to cart about at work and my mum calls the fixed line I got with my ADSL (because naked was more expensive than bundled!). I unplug it and cart it around on the occasional weekend when I take the train down the coast to visit my mum.

        6. Mike Flugennock

          mobile number? fat damn' chance

          I've never, ever, EVER given out my mobile number on my CV. I get enough SMS spam on my mobile as it is, even though only the smallest handful of people I know personally have the number, with explicit instructions to NOT GIVE THE DAMN' NUMBER OUT.

          My CV contains only my land-line number, along with my email address, and the URL of my online portfolio. Who the hell knows who would get my mobile number once I give it to a company's Personnel department or to a recruiter?

          I'm totally down with you on the meditative state of concentration vs. phone calls &etc. While not a programmer, I'm still in a line of work which requires a seriously hyperfocused, Zen-like state of concentration. When deeply into something like a brochure spread or magazine cover, I refuse phone calls of any kind and even go so far as to quit Thunderbird to keep the email flag from going off while I'm in the "zone".

        7. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Just turn the mobile off or put it on silent while needing to avoid interruption. Seems you are not as bright and intellectual as you think.

          To the rest of you failing to understand the author: he is explaining his experience and why the apparently obvious needs saying.

          I have got most jobs through decent agents. In some countries, you have to use an agent if you have not got the right residence permit.

          As for format, who on earth uses bulky Word when PDF is so easy to produce?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I do the IT for a recruitment group and Word is by FAR our favourite format to get a CV in so we can run it through the CV processing tools we have to automagically populate our database.

            Also, we have to reformat the CV's to send to the clients - removing personally identifiable info, so they cannot sidestep us, and therefore our fees. Other formats, but PDF in particular make this a pain to do.

            Finally, all those suggesting the recruiters want you to do their job for them - they already have a job they enjoy, but you don't, therefore I suggest doing what they say. Remember, they don't owe you squat - you are not a client, you are product - plain and simple.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "Remember, they don't owe you squat"

              This truism cuts in every direction.

              "you are not a client, you are product "

              I'm a biped with oft-used professional skills. Recruiters to me have always been optional tools which large companies like to use both offset their own managers' accountability and to keep the hiring process managably slow.

              I have many products, not the least of which is cleaning up technical disasters left by recruiter-placed and nepotism-sourced (usually the better of the two) 'talent'. I'm not saying the world doesn't need mouthpieces with no visible talent, I'm just saying recruiters are junior partner to the professionally-skilled and always will be.

      4. CheesyTheClown Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        This guy is pathetic though

        For every job I have ever applied to, I have written a new CV from scratch. Open Word, pick a template, fill it in. Pretty damn simple and with a few Google searches, it's even easy to find a better template.

        A CV is something personal to you, it is also something personal to the person reading it. You are applying to a job where the person placing the advertisement has listed their requirements. It is your first assignment for that prospective employer to answer their questions. List your experience, education and other relevant information in such a way that it applies to them. Unless your job is as an assembly monkey or some lame ass job recruiter, the company will be investing months worth of time into getting you up to speed on your position even if it's just a series of failed attempts to start off with. You can afford an hour or two to write a CV that will answer as many of their questions as possible.

        Avoid going through recruiters as much as you can. As this idiot made perfectly clear, they're idiots. People do lie on their resumes and CVs all the time and if these guys are at all useful for anything, it's trying to catch those lies.

        Work on an open source project. Write an article for a blog. Do something that they can see. It's called branding. If you want a job in a specific form of engineering do something on your own to make yourself worth it.

        As for you... I could clearly tell what he was on about, but this wasn't a useful article in the slightest. If people are writing CVs such as the ones he's complaining about, telling them to write better CVs is just plain wrong. A CV says something about a person and if that person is too lazy to find out how to do it on their own, then it also says something about the applicant. He's cheating himself and his customers by whining that he has to work for a living to sort out the bad apples.

    2. SuperTim


      Wanting you to do their job for them. I have never got a job via a recruiter. They aren't interested in you getting the job, just SOMEONE getting the job. This guy, while having some good points, misses the fact that Word is the de facto standard word processor in business and that you CAN TURN OFF SPELL CHECKING on your CV. Also, what does he want? An RTF? A PDF? He neglects to mention it. Still, he does spout a bit of common sense. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's people who don't check simple mistakes and bang on about their GCSEs like they were actually tricky exams that left them capable of doing things other than playing video games and drinking cheap cider.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The CV gets you past some crude filtering, done by people who know sweet fanny adams about the job. Some of the mistakes described are really so damnably obvious,

        I am not at all sure that our industrious author realises that there are so many CV advisors who, once past the obvious, give differing advice on almost every detail of what should be there. Whatever you decide to include, somebody will tell you that you are wrong.

        I am inclined to think that there is something to be gained from the way a wire-service news story is written. Put the important facts first, because you will likely be rejected by HR without them even looking at the second page.

      2. Ken Hagan Gold badge


        "This guy, while having some good points, misses the fact that Word is the de facto standard word processor in business and that you CAN TURN OFF SPELL CHECKING on your CV"

        That's not how I read it. I read it as "You may have turned off spell-checking, but I haven't and therefore when I read your CV, it flags up all the speling misstakes you made.".

    3. Jim 59

      "This must have been the most irritating article I've ever read on on here."

      Good advice is often irritating. To preserve your pride, one approach is to (a) ridicule the advisor and then (b) secretly follow his advice anyway. To the letter.

      And my advice to recruiters is: please stop beginning your candidate search by spamming 100,000 people about that IC design job in Basingtoke. Narrow it down a little. I don't want your email simply becuase I live in Silicon Close, or my name is Bob Asic, OK?

      1. Bob Asic

        @Jim 59

        Did someone call? :)

    4. bdam


      Employers sometimes use pricks like this to screen CV's then connect to the candidates via LinkedIn anyway. Its almost always the case someone in the employers LI network is already connected so the "first contact" clause is busted immediately.

  2. Dele-Himself


    I cant figure out if this article was written by a troll or someone serious?

    1. TheOtherHobbbes

      Unintentional irony

      is always the best sort.

      A tech head hunter who's too self-important to learn anything about technology, and looks for "buzzwords" instead?

      Funniest thing I've read this week.

      I expect Mr Connor thinks he's the DBs for being such a nothing.

      But there you go - that's how the UK got its unassailable lead in large-scale IT project management.

      1. Mark 65 Silver badge

        I think you'll find that, were you to do a bit of looking in the correct places, the author is quite knowledgeable in his area of focus (financial and quant). I believe he is pointing out the irony of people believing all recruiters to be buzzword searching monkeys and yet somehow assuming they can spot that skill X is a sub-set of area Y without explicitly saying so on their CV. I would certainly not object to this person giving my rap-sheet a critical review as I believe it'd end up much more marketable as a result.

    2. AdamWill

      I believe the appropriate description...

      ...would be 'arrogant tosspot who thinks he's a much bigger deal than he actually is'.

    3. kosh

      Yeah, same.

      Probably troll, though. I have met recruiters this arrogant, but they're not this eloquent.

      There are two messages in this pieces:

      1. Write your CV with the audience in mind.

      2. Hire direct (as I do, using my network) - recruitment agents add no value.

      However, it doesn't need this many words to deliver, and the attitude dulls the edge rather than driving it home.

    4. LaeMing Bronze badge
      Thumb Down

      I found page 1 quite funny and informative.

      Then page 2 leapt off into wacko land and I couldn't tell if he was giving examples of what to do or what not to do.

  3. GrumpyJoe
    Thumb Down


    I have no ambition to work in finance. I'm sure it's the same all over recruitment wise, and I am struggling to think of the last job a recruiter got me anyway.

    Jobsearch engines will remove the middlemen - can't happen too soon.

    (Did I fall for the bait?)

    1. Daniel 1

      He works for the City of London

      You know? That powerhouse of intellectual talent and cocaine-testing that put this country in "Glad we're not Greece" bucket. You only have to look at how well all the people he's hired, so far, have shaped up, to see what a keen eye he has for weeding out life's failures.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        London - closed shop?

        It is a surprise to me that such a position exists in London. In my humble experience the FIs plunder talent almost exclusively from each other and it's actually quite difficult to break into the sector in the first place if you don't already know people in banks or hedge funds. Out of the recruiters courting the fresh graduate talent at my university (admittedly a few years ago now but Blair-era), the finance people were conspicuously absent.

        Some of the smartest coders I know either still work for banks or have done so for a while and moved on to do stuff with their accrued telephone number bonuses. Either way the CV was probably largely irrelevant.

  4. Richard Scratcher

    An amusing article but rather pointless.

    What's the point of teaching dumb people not to write dumb CVs? All you'll end up with is a lot of dumb people turning up for interviews.

    God bless the paper sift.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      I remember when 'dumb' meant something else entirely, until the Americanism redefined it in British English as meaning 'silly'.


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