Would you like to have a technical CV that glows professionalism and catches the eyes of the employer?
This employer who is diving in a pool of CVs searching for the ideal candidate needs to find his way out of this pool with a short-list of CVs that best match the vacancy. Why not let your CV not only be in the list, but be in the top of this list.
Frankly speaking, If your CV doesn’t look professional, doesn’t properly show your real skills and experience in your field, includes false information, stuffed with unnecessary details, or poorly designed then chances are that it will end up left unattended and thus being discarded.
All job seekers or applicants want their CVs to be the perfect match for the vacancy for the next stage to get contacted and called for interview.
In this article I will tell you what is the best way to write an eye-catching technical CV or resume.
Always remember that the CV is the only gateway between you and the employer, the employer still doesn’t know who you are and doesn’t know what you know.
Your CV should clearly show the employer everything about you; What do you want (your objectives), your experiences (if any), your certifications or training (if any), your education, your technical skills and any other important detail that can help this employer short-list your CV, or say ‘…This is the one!‘
Here are some style guidelines to apply to make your CV professional, while looking neat and elegant:
- Use font types that are easy to read, like Times New Roman, Arial, Helvetica, Calibri or anything you see readable in your eyes
- Keep the font size 12 pt across the CV
- Write the section titles in ALL CAPS, and give them a larger font size like 14 pt , you can add a horizontal line under each section title.
- Write your name in ALL CAPS and with a font size of 20 or 22 pt.
- Make the keywords in bold
- Put adequate line spacing between each section
- Use bullet-points for skills section and anywhere you want to specify multiple items
- Make sure your CV doesn’t exceed 2 pages, even if you are adequately experienced.
So now I will be explaining in-depth each section of your CV, how you can structure it in a way so it catches the eye of the employer:
The HEADER PART
The first thing that you must specify in the CV is your name. It must be in a big font and ALL CAPS mode.
The name is what identifies you, so you need to make it have a good impact on the employer when they first open or glimpse your CV. The point here is pulling the employer’s eyes attention.
There is absolutely no need to write the stating-the-obvious phrases like “CV” , or “Curriculum Vitae” or Resume. Anyone just first looking at this document or paper will tell it is a CV.
Under your name you should specify, in a smaller font and no capitalization, your current residing address, and then another line, the important contact details, like mobile number, email address, address. This is to let the employer easily find your contact details once they finish checking your CV.
Normally, it doesn’t really matter if you center the CV HEADER or make it appear on the left side (for the left-to-right languages).
Not to forget, just an important note regarding the email, it would be so inappropriate and unprofessional to use a silly or slang email names like firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Use a professional naming convention to avoid falling into such embarrassing situations with the employer. why not, for example, use firstname.lastname@example.org or whatever you find a suitable fit for a professional CV.
Make it simple and proper.
Creating emails is nowadays easier than ordering food online, and there are many email providers like gmail, yahoo, windows live, mail.com …etc
So, to show you how your CV HEADER should look like, see the sample below:
YOUR NAME AND SURNAME IN CAPS
12345 [some street], [some city], [some country]
Mobile: [a mobile number] | Email: [your professional email]
You might jump in here and ask me, so where is the section where I should mention my gender, nationality, marital status, date of birth?
This is a debatable topic, whether to add these details or not, between the professional technical writers and human resources specialists.
You are totally free to add them and won’t degrade your CV’s level of professionalism, however, in my opinion you don’t have to, instead you can make use of the space to shift up the other more important technical details.
Such details should not be a reason to affect the applicant’s hiring process, as these are personal information and can be obtained on a later phase.
A CV without objectives means that this person is just applying for anything not caring about what he wants, which position, what role and what are his goals.
You must write your objectives.
A properly written objectives paragraph should be short and clear and should summarize what does the applicant want.
You should note that not every applicant should have the same objectives, it depends on the applicant’s level of experience. That’s it, a fresh graduate’s objectives should definitely be different than the one who is in a leading or managing position
The paragraph below is an example for a fresh technical guy (who has recently graduated):
Seeking a position in the software development field, where I would apply my theoretical knowledge that I’ve gained through my past 4 years in college to contribute in developing software and build my skills for the best productivity. Looking forward to start my career being part of an agile team.
See how you made it loud and clear and straight to the point with minimal number of words?
On the other hand, your objectives will be particularly different when you are already in a leading position and looking for a higher level, like a senior leader or managerial position. In this case your objectives should look something like this:
Seeking a position as a senior technical leader or manager in a reputable company, where I will be applying my 7+ years of experience and knowledge in the software development field to properly build and boost its web/mobile products. With my 2+ years of leadership and mentor-ship skills I will be leading the team for the utmost productivity while maintaining friendly ecosystem and high team spirit.
When you are on a higher seniority level, your focus will be more to lead, mentor and manage team and guide them to learn and use latest technologies/frameworks/tool-set and whatever is needed to uplift the products.
If you are a fresh graduate then you might skip this section. In the normal cases, you won’t have an experience at this point of time.
You need to specify, in details, your experience source (the company from where you had this experience, your position and level of seniority, how long you worked there (specify start and finish month/year) and what were your main roles and responsibilities.
Be as much as possible detailed and clear about the main tasks that you have done within the particular experience you mention. It is extremely crucial for the employer reading your CV to know what sort of work have you been doing.
You should specify your experiences in a reverse chronological order. That’s it, you should sort them starting your last (or current work place) and going backwards in time.
So for example check the below:
Technical Leader – Web Applications Development
(May/2015 – Present)
During the 2+ years being a technical leader in the web applications development department, I was enrolled in the following list of non exhaustive roles and responsibilities:
- Leading the team to design and develop internal web apps using ASP.Net MVC in C#.
- Mentoring other junior members to improve coding practices and following proper software development methodologies, object oriented programming and design patterns.
- Helping the team to troubleshoot problems and guiding them through solutions.
- Sharing the knowledge between all team members through frequent meetings and emails.
- Participating in the planning phase of the project to advise, from technical perspective, the product owner and other stakeholders for the feasibility of implementing some features and giving high level milestones estimation.
Senior Software Engineer
[Another Company Name]
(Feb/2013 – April/2015)
I was heavily involved in the development of an online hotel reservations system along with a big team in an agile environment. My main development roles were:
- Attending the daily scrum meetings and all other scrum events.
- Helping other junior team members to solve problems.
- Discussing development progress with the product owner.
Still this is an example, you might need to write more details of your exact job’s position roles and responsibilities. Just make sure to be honest about what you are saying and don’t write something that you don’t do or haven’t done.
If you have a personal blog or a website that you have built by yourself, then it will be great to mention it in your experience section. Don’t forget to write when did you create it, why and on which language/framework/toolset it was built.
Specify here what training you have taken, where and who was the training provider.
Android Development Training – Jan/2017 – Feb/2017
X Training Center – Berlin
The training covered:
- Understanding the basics of android SDK in terms of activities, Intents, Fragments, Layouts, Drawables, support libraries.
- Knowing the different features of each android Api.
- Building apps from scratch.
- Using gradle to configure the project settings and dependencies
- Integrating with different 3rd party SDKs
It is important to show details about your training, as it will give the employer clear information of what have you got from this training.
There is some debate that have been ongoing since long time about whether you should specify your education before your skills or not.
In my opinion, and I think it makes some sense, that If you are a fresh graduate, then you should first specify your education then your skills, as your education is currently your main asset that the employer will decide upon short-listing your CV and contacting you.
At this point, even if you have built some good skills in some area like let’s say HTML or PHP while you have been on your educational journey, still the employer knows you are fresh graduate and they cannot take full guarantee the level of skills you have in HTML or PHP, and they cannot rely on you on big or crucial projects.
They will need a proof, and your experience or some particular certification will be the proof.
Education should be specified in a reverse chronological order (the same way you will do with your experiences, in case you are not a fresh graduate)
The below shows how you can specify your education:
Bachelors Degree in Computer Science – 2015
University Name – College Name
GPA 3.75 (Excellent)
Here comes another very important section in your CV, that you need to specify your skills ordered by the higher or more comfortable you are in:
So for an experienced .Net Web developer guy, the skills section should look something like this:
- Excellent skills in developing web apps using Asp.Net MVC and Web Apis in C#
- Strong understanding of Object oriented programming and software patterns
- Very good knowledge in implementing the http authentication & authorization open standards including OAuth 2.0 and OpenID. in Asp.Net Web Apis
- Excellent understanding in the SQL databases and writing complex queries with query optimization
- Comfortable working with different source control tools, including git, TFVC, svn
- Very good debugging and troubleshooting skills while using different toolset of logging, debugging and performance monitoring
- Very good understanding of agile/scrum development methodologies
- Solid understanding of IIS and deployment environment configuration, as well as preparing CI server configurations, such as TFS build and Jenkins
Again, this is only an example, you can write more or less.
The important thing to note here is that you should highlight your skills in the way that the employer matters the most. So make sure to give the skills that you are more comfortable or have a better experience in a higher ordering priority.
If you have any certifications, especially the well-known ones from reputable organizations such as Microsoft or Google, make sure to list them in a reverse chronological order.
Check the below:
MCSD: App Builder – May / 2017
MTA: Developer – March / 2017
Even though it might not be totally relevant to the actual work, but specifying your awards can give a nice boost to your overall CV, especially when it is coming from a reputable authority, like the MVP award from Microsoft.
MVP: C# (2017/2018)
Since you are a technical guy, you don’t need to put a lot focus on this part in your CV, as it comes in a 2nd level of priority.
Just keep it short, specify what languages you know and how well do you know each of them. Use words like Native, Advanced, Intermediate, Basic. And whenever you have discrepancy between the same language skills, then specify them.
French: Advanced (reading and writing). Intermediate (speaking)
Your real level of knowledge will already be evaluated within the interviews. And sometimes you might be tested with some tough exam. So make sure to be honest when your write your level of knowledge.
On a side note, the English language is the main language for any person in the IT or software development field. You need to have a minimum of intermediate skills of English, especially in reading or writing. If you think your English is not adequately good, then make sure you improve your skills, by reading more, learning, getting a training or whatever you see suitable.
There is nothing worse than writing business or formal email with tons of grammatical mistakes. You surely do not want to put yourself into such embarrassing situations.
INTERESTS AND HOBBIES
This represents the things you are interested in or you like to do in general.
Some interests or hobbies might give hints to the employer that can lead to specific characteristic in you that might be indirectly beneficial for work.
Reading Wikipedia everyday.
For example such interest shows the level of general knowledge you have obtained, you might not be reading about IT or software development all the time, but the fact that you are reading everyday is a great deal that already have improved your language, your learning skills as well as your knowledge-base, this gives important indicators for your employer that are willing to learn and expand your skills and probably will raise your stock charts in the employer’s mind.
Regardless whether or not your interests or hobbies will do any difference for your hiring process, just mention them in few simple words.
Having a technical CV that will draw the attention of the employer is highly important in the hiring process. First impression hugely matter when it comes to selecting the ideal candidates for interviews.
Your CV should best represent you, what you want, what you know and what you have. Make sure to mention everything. And always remember the saying “honesty is the best policy”.
Good luck in your upcoming job seeking mission. If you still feel that you need to improve your technical and development skills, then why not read my detailed blog post about 9 Bulletproof ways to become a better developer ?