Resumes. I don’t know if there’s anything that hasn’t been written about writing them. You will find resume samples, advice, guides, builders, hell, you will find people you can pay to do it for you.
None of this will prepare you, or rather your resume for the scrutiny, critics and laughter of your (possibly) future employer.
Your average person writes a couple, or no more than a few resumes throughout their lifetime. Employers on the other hand… They’re the ones that get to read this stuff.
I’ve asked my bosses and hiring managers to share some feedback on applicants, resumes, cover letters from their perspective. Throughout the company’s history they’ve read hundreds of them and there’s nothing they haven’t seen.
This is what they shared with me. Don’t take it as the ultimate guide of CV writing or list of best resume examples. It’s largely subjective and IT oriented. Definitely not a corporate perspective. If your job search sticks to corporate and you’re looking for help getting into the rat race and climbing the corporate ladder, all I can do is wish you good luck. This article will not help you much. It more about resume best practices from a perspective of an employer who cares. And values their time.
Resume best practices in IT
First of all, be genuine and don’t waste people’s valuable time. Write your resume yourself and include information that is true and accurate. No one knows your value better than yourself. With online sources, resume templates / formats and a little good advice from friends you can achieve effects as good as the best “cv writing service” out there. It really isn’t rocket science.
The cover letter
Forget about the cover letter. From a non-corporate business’ standpoint, reading about you being interested in the position, how you will fit perfectly, and trying to convince them you’re better than others doesn’t make much sense. All cover letters are virtually the same. Corporations do require it, maybe even look at it, but for a small/medium size employer, a short note – few sentences max. as an intro to your IT professional resume will do the job perfectly and save the recruiter’s precious time. Cover letters might be useful for high level management positions in big corporations.
Give it a face
First and foremost, don’t be anonymous. If your resume is just text, line after line of information about your skills and experience, you’re no different to possibly hundreds of other applicants for the job. Include a photo of your face. The employer will be able to remember an actual person, instead of just information. Don’t worry, it’s not a beauty contest. No one’s expecting a studio quality portrait, they just want to know you’re an actual person, a face to remember.
You can’t know everything, besides, everything is a long list
Since it’s IT and you’re trying to land a job as, most likely, a web developer – you will have a list of technologies you’ve worked with. Knowing the industry, the more projects you took part in, the more technologies you had contact with as a software engineer. Don’t list all of them. Some senior developers with few years of coding behind them could probably list a hundred different things they actually encountered and for an employer this is just way too much to go through.
Focus instead, on top 5-8 technologies. List the ones you feel good at, have more than a few days worth of experience with and that are sought for by the employer. It’s also good to state the level of expertise you have in those few top ones. Remember, your future boss will be going through a lot of cvs. If you list your main techs and give them 1-5 star rating, according to your level, you might find your professional resume to end up always on top the pile for just the fact of being clear and easy to read.
Git cherry-pick, not cherry-picking on a farm.
When listing your previous experience, stick to IT qualifications. Your future employer doesn’t need, nor does he want to know that you worked on a farm or served burgers. Outlining your whole life story from the first job in a car wash when you were 16, will clutter your resume with unnecessary info. Wasting employers time with irrelevant information is not something that will work to your advantage.
When listing projects you took part in, it’s more important to inform the employer about your role and key technologies you used rather than that you made an app for rating various types of cheese.
As a software developer you are expected to write code, right? Your future employer will want to know how good you are at it. Don’t be shy about your creations and accomplishments. In your resume, you can include a Github repository link to examples of your work. This will give the company a chance to evaluate you and know if you’re what they’re looking for. Do this even if you’re just starting your career. Employers are often willing to take promising beginners on board and offer mentoring and pointing in the right direction.
IT is arguably the best choice for a growth oriented career. Many paths to choose, even if you’re set on the general direction.
Communication is the key
Most software houses in Poland and other developing countries prefer working with offshore clients to offering their services on local market. This is why, looking at job offers, you will find English as one of the requirements, regardless of the position.
With the growing popularity of Agile Scrum methodology for app development, the need for employees with good command of the language has increased significantly. Development teams work closely with their clients, including them in the production process. This means that as a team member,you will be required to communicate directly with clients.
When stating your level of English in the resume, it’s best to use well recognized format instead of vague descriptions like “communicative”, “basic” or “comfortable”. Instead, get your level evaluated in a language school and put down CEFR rating: A2 (lowest), B1, B2, C1, C2 (highest).
When writing a resume, you want yours to stand out. The best way to achieve this is to make it as clean, clear and ordered as possible. Good formatting matters. Recruiters seldom waste time on going through walls of text, or pages upon pages of information. Make it 4 pages tops. Format it so it’s easy to read. Bullet points, hyphens, easy to read font size, spaces between lines are your friends here, avoid lengthy descriptions, concentrate on outlining key information. In a resume for an IT company, the rule “less is more” will work to your advantage, if only by showing that you respect your future employer’s time. Being a professional about that is highly appreciated.
Now a little bit about the so called “soft skills”. Software developers do want to know who you are as an employee. Give them a little detail on that. Be honest about it and don’t include characteristics that don’t apply to you. If you prefer to work on your own, don’t say you’re a good team player. Write about stuff you’re actually good at, not what everyone wants to hear. For a software house (like ours) teamwork is quite important, as well as being hard working. Good communication, adaptability and problem solving skills are also highly valued, especially when we’re talking agile Scrum development, which is currently on top of the list when it comes to methodology of software development.
Apart from your career, you obviously have a life. A slight mention of that interesting fact in your resume will not go unnoticed. How it’s received though does depend on which aspect of it you choose to disclose.
Resume writing tips
Writing about your hobbies, interests and passions is undoubtedly valuable, but if you start your resume from something along the lines of “..I am a mother/father of 2 and my children are the center of my existence..” is simply not going to go down well. The company is looking for an employee, not a passionate parent – if you are one, good on you, but in app development, parenting is not exactly a top listed requirement.
What they will definitely appreciate are hobbies and interests related to the job/industry. Write about being a new technologies enthusiast, your interests in algorithms, solving mathematical problems. Leave the drums, cycling and motorsports out of it. Well, maybe put one in to give it a little color.
I think that about covers it. Since you made it all the way here, a little behind the scenes advice for you. When looking for a job in an IT company, especially in a city you live in, it’s a great idea to ask around about your future employer.
Check out your social media connections, send a word out that you’re looking for info about a particular company. You may not only learn some valuable info, but also find out a friend of yours or someone they know works there already, and could recommend you for the position.
Software houses love to get people recommended, saves them the hassle of looking. Heck, they even offer rewards to employees who bring in the right people for the job. To make sure that hiring manager can reach you – include email address and phone number in your resume.