Top Tips for Writing The Most Effective CV

Writing your CV is daunting on the best of days for jobs you are already confident in applying to. Here are the main tips I have put together for writing your CV for jobs in the tech industry.

  1. Overall look and feel can make or break your application

Most tech companies use recruiters to review applications and most recruiters are reviewing 100s of applications per day for the same role. This means that the more difficult your CV is to read, the less likely they are to retain your CV and pass your application on to the employer.

  • Keep it short: Unless you have 10 different experiences in different industries that are all equally relevant to the job you’re applying for, your CV doesn’t need to be longer than 1 page. Make it shorter by condensing your similar experiences down to 1 or 3 lines and only expanding on the most relevant ones.
  • Use 1 – 2 colours maximum: It is always easier on the eye to have a CV with at least one colour instead of just black and white however don’t be tempted to use more than 2 colours as it can be distracting. Equally, the colours you choose have to be black and white printer friendly. Just because orange shows up well on the computer screen doesn’t mean it will print well. I don’t like to think most companies print the applications they receive but it’s always good to bear it in mind.
  1. Structure should reflect the strongest elements of your application

Making a career switch into tech when you have no experience in the industry will probably mean that your experiences aren’t your strongest point. In another post I will go into detail about the work I suggest to do prior to even considering applying to jobs, but lets assume you have all the skills you need for the job just not the experience:

  • Have a “Skills” and a “Tools” section located at the top of your CV showing all of the transferable skills you have, as well as the tools you know how to use that are relevant for the role. E.g If you are looking to get into a data analyst role, I would put “Data Analysis” in the “Skills” section and “SQL” in the “Tools” section.
  • Have a “Career Objective” section located at the top of your CV stating in clears simple terms how your career path links to your career objective. For example “Self-starting professional with extensive experience in business operations seeking next logistical challenge”
  1. Wording should be read as action + means + result

Ever sent a cv and get an automated rejection within minutes? The wording of your CV is perhaps the most important part as most recruiters use scraping tools to analyze your CV for keywords. The more keywords you have in your CV that are relevant for the role, the better chance you have at getting your application retained. Sometime if there are no keywords relevant to the role the system may immediately reject your application before it gets to reach the right pair of eyes.

I would suggest running your CV through this website https://resumeworded.com/ in order to get some insights into the effectiveness of your current CV. (it’s free)

  • One bullet point per action: For each relevant experience, keep the format to clear concise bullet points that illustrate an action done that is relevant to the job you are applying for. Reference the wording in the job description and always relate each action to an outcome.
  • Use compelling action verbs to ensure your bullet points stand out. (Resume Worded has an extensive list of verbs they recommend using)
  • Always use the past tense. This has become common practice in CVs and illustrates that the action was completed and generated an outcome
  • Focus on outcomes where applicable, depending on the job you are applying for. If the role you are applying for requires you to generate revenue eg. Sales, make sure wherever you can, you show how each action you completed generated or contributed to generating revenue for the company and quantify it.

Example of a client’s CV wording review I did recently:

Before:

General administrative and clerical tasks that may be requested by team members to complete projects efficiently and on time. Organising read throughs and castings. 

After:

  • Conducted key administrative and clerical tasks resulting an increase in project completions by 25%
  • Organized read throughs and castings with various potential candidates using Airtable and Zoom, filling 12 positions in 6 months
  1. Word your experiences creatively

Now I’m not saying you should lie on your CV. I would never suggest for you to put yourself in an awkward position where you can’t do anything you said you have done, however I do suggest squeezing the most you can out of your past experiences. We all have a tendency to downplay our own experiences when talking about ourselves. This comes across in a lot of people’s CVs especially when going for roles in jobs they aren’t as confident in.

The best way to go about this is to be an expert at what the company is looking for:

  • Fine comb the job description to find exactly what soft skills the company is looking for and make a note of them
  • Use as many resources as possible to listen to or read about people talking about the job you are applying for. (Youtube, Medium etc.) This will help you understand the type of tasks they will ask you to do and what companies will be looking for.

Once you have a good grasp on the type of soft skills they are looking for, take the time to read through all of your prior experiences and reword them to show how you demonstrated those skills. E.g the new job you are applying for says the following in the job description: “We are looking for someone who is self-motivated, has a positive attitude and the ability to be pro-activeresourceful, and flexible. […] Is able to multi-task and has good communication skills, both written and verbal.”

Try and think about where you have demonstrated those skills in the past. Did you have to do a project by yourself with not much guidance? Did you have to be proactive in order to achieve something in a small time frame?

Here is an example I suggested to a client (based on a very simple admin task of using excel to track meeting spaces):

  • Spearheaded the launch of a new automated classification system to find the best locations and film spaces for meetings and interviews

This shows that you were pro-active AND resourceful (some soft skills in the job description)

Also, if you have been part of any company projects, even at a low level, make sure to include them in your experiences to flesh them out.

  1. Hard skills are extremely important in tech jobs

For most roles, there will be specific hard skills requirements. Even at a non technical role level, there will be a certain amount of tools you will be expected to know of and potentially how to use. There will also be a certain amount of principles and methodologies that the company expects you to know and understand.

As mentioned above I will be going into more detail in another post regarding the exact tools and skills I suggest acquiring prior to applying for roles. In the meantime I would suggest you write down a list of all of the job offers you are interested in and for each, the tools they ask candidates to know how to use in the job description. Are there any patterns?

Chances are the same tools will come up repeatedly and therefore make it easier for you to hone in on what tools you need to learn to use and whether you are interested in taking a course on them.

Once you have enough knowledge of how to use a certain tool, add it to your skill section and get those keywords working for you.

Let me know in the comments if this was helpful for you and if you would like me to expand on anything else!

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