Writing the Perfect CV for the Tech Sector
It’s that time of year when a lot of people start looking for new roles so how do you make your CV stand out from the crowd?
A well-structured CV makes it easier for hiring managers and recruiters to pick out information.
- Personal information: you’ll need to include an email address, phone number and a partial address (e.g. town). It’s also a good place to include visa status or security clearance (along with any expiry dates) if relevant. If you have a LinkedIn page, personal website, or GitHub repository then you can also link these in this section to bolster your application.
- Personal profile: include a few sentences introducing yourself. Focus firstly on your career goals and history, highlighting key skills and/or certifications (or academic background if you’re looking for graduate or entry level roles) and then include a couple of hobbies which can break the ice a little for future interviews. It gives the company an idea of how well you might fit in (for example, a company that has a company football team might be really interested in the fact you play football in your free time).
- Skills: giving an overview of your skills makes it really easy to pick out how well your skillset matches the desired skills for the role, as well as what new skills you might bring to the team. You might want to do this as a graphic including how advanced those skills are, or you might just want to use bullet points. Either way it can be helpful to arrange them into groups, i.e. coding languages, frameworks, databases.
- Career history: you’ll need to include the company name, your job title, and the date range you were there (MM/YY) and then provide a short summary of your duties, projects you worked on, technologies you used, and professional achievements. Where you have data available to quantify those achievements (i.e. number of users, time, etc.). If you’ve changed careers (e.g. worked as an estate agent for 5 years and then as a network engineer for another 5) it’s okay to write a couple of sentences summarising your previous experience in the sector you’ve left. However, if you’re looking for your first IT role following a career change use these roles to highlight transferable skills like time management or communication.
- Education: this is the place to talk about any degrees, courses, or certifications that you’ve undertaken. If you’ve recently completed a degree or training program and are looking to enter the industry then include a few more details, such as modules completed and/or projects worked on, but if you’ve got more relevant work experience just the name of the course, provider, and completion date should be sufficient.
- Most companies use an ATS: a lot of companies use ATS systems to filter CVs using keywords and job boards which hiring managers and recruiters use to find candidates will do the same. If you want to make sure your CV stands out, you need to reuse keywords. These will almost always be related to hard skills, such as a specific coding language, framework, tool, or operating system. This means that you’ll want to reuse words relating to your key skills. If you follow the structure above you should have your key skills listed in your personal profile, skills section, and career history and/or education so your CV will feature higher in results, meaning it will be more likely to be reviewed. It also means it can sometimes be helpful to include information you might think is redundant, but while a person should know someone who knows Laravel would also know PHP the ATS won’t display a CV which only mentions Laravel to people looking for PHP as a skill.
- Length is not that important: there’s a lot of advice about keeping CVs to a page, but if you’ve been working for a long time or have worked on a large number of projects then it might not be possible to fit your CV comfortably to a page or even two. If your CV is less than a page, then it’s quite likely that you’re missing some detail and you might want to review it. If you’re early in your career and don’t have an extensive career history or are looking for your first job you can also include a hobby section and use that to showcase skills you might have gained through that activity, e.g. if you love playing chess you can use that to demonstrate your analytical mindset, or if you’re learning French it can show that you enjoy developing your skills and shows initiative even if it’s not a required skill for the job you’re applying for.
- Formatting: your CV doesn’t have to look fancy unless it’s particularly relevant to the job (e.g. if you’re looking for a UI role it can demonstrate your design skills) but it does need to be well-formatted. You should be able to pick out your name and the different sections at a glance. Avoid using coloured text in the main sections as you want to make sure everything stands out and is easy to read, and choose a font that’s very clear (sans serif fonts are particularly good as they’re easier to read, particularly for anyone with dyslexia).
- Ask for a second opinion: it’s always a good idea to ask someone else to review your CV before sending it out as they might catch something you’ve missed and can make sure that you’ve included everything you need to, and it all makes sense.
If you are looking to work in the tech sector or need help writing your CV, our team would be happy to help you - find out more here.