We’re continuing our career development series today with CV writing for developers, one of our favorite topics! We’ve already covered self-exploration, learned how to effectively answer the “tell me about yourself” question and looked at a strategy to effectively structure your job search.
Why Bother With a CV?
CV stands for curriculum vitae, which in Latin loosely translates to “the course of life”. It’s a document that lists your accomplishments and sent to prospective employers to secure an interview.
That last part is most important. The purpose of a CV is to secure an interview, not a job. Of course, landing a job is the ultimate goal, but a CV is to enable you to get a foot in the door.So in essence, a CV is a marketing tool that showcases you and your accomplishments to secure an interview.
Ideal CV Length
A CV should be as succinct as possible, because most people do not have the time to sift through pages of information about you.
Here’s our recommendation:
- One page length if you have 7 years or less of work experience
- More than a page length if you have more than 7 years of work experience
Of course, as with most things in life, there are exceptions, so use your judgement if you have a special situation. The most important thing is to make sure that your CV is well organized and easy to read.
The Sections of a CV
Let’s break down your CV into its different sections and go through our recommendations for each one.
Section 1: Your Name and Contact Info
The first section is at the very top of your CV and includes the following:
- Your name and contact info
- City, State | Email Address | Github link, Personal Website or LinkedIn
A few things to remember:
Your name should be the largest item on your CV, big and bold. Do not include your street address. No one needs to know or wants to know where you live. Be mindful of international CV preferences. In the United States, a CV is also known as a resume and does not include a picture, date of birth or nationality. On the other hand, in most other parts of the world, a CV includes all of that information in this section.
Section 2: Your Summary
The second section is your career summary or profile or “About” section: a few sentences (three at the most) that provides a summary of who you are, your strengths, your past experience and what you’re looking to do next. Use your career story!
Section 3: Skills
The third section lists your technical skills that are most useful to the job you are applying to. The important thing here is not to list every single technology you know. We recommend that you only list what you’re comfortable talking about at an interview.
Here are a few examples of what you can include under Skills:
- Product Management (wireframing, UX)
- Project Management (scrum master)
- Concepts (agile)
- Spoken languages you’re proficient in (English, French etc)
Remember to list your skills into different categories, such as: Technologies, Concepts, Languages, etc, etc, instead of presenting them as a laundry list, which makes it hard to read.
Section 4: Work Experience
The fourth section lists your past work experience that are relevant to the job you’re applying to. Note the use of the word accomplishments and not duties or responsibilities. Prospective hiring managers want to see what you’re capable of achieving, so show it off here!
Here is our recommendation for how to present your past work experience. Each job or internship you have held should contain the following:
- Organization Name, City, State | Month, Year Start to Month, Year End
- Your Title
- A one-sentence describing the organization and your role
- Bullet points of your accomplishments
Here is a checklist to keep in mind for writing this section:
- Write in bullet points
- Start with a verb (led, managed, organized, built…)
- Make it measurable, if possible
- Use formatting to make it easy to read
- Don’t use flowery language
- Tip: Break down a role by project, if applicable
- Do not repeat words
- Stay away from buzzwords (detail-oriented…)
- It is OK to have gaps in your accomplishments!
Remember, as far as possible, to write your accomplishments in a way that is measurable. What was the impact of the work that you did? Did it help save money? Did it cut down on time spent? Did it automate an old process?
- Instead of: Built a global payments solution for clients
- Write this way: Designed, planned and implemented a global payment solution for marketing clients, payments averaging $1 million per week, resulted in 7% cost reduction.
- Instead of: Accepted into Citigroup Leadership Development Program
- Write this way: Accepted into Citigroup Leadership Development Program (6% admit rate, selects 40 students a year)
Section 5: Education
The fifth and final section should list your education. It is best to keep it short and to the point. Here’s how to outline your education:
- University or High School name
- Degree conferred | Month and year of graduation
The year of graduation is optional. If you do not want them to know your age, you can skip the month and year entirely.
What do you think?
So there you have it…a primer on writing your developer CV. Do you have specific questions about your CV? Do you disagree with any of our advice? Anything you’d like to add?
We want to hear from you! Please contact Shilpa Melissa Rodrigues at firstname.lastname@example.org.