Techniques for an excellent technical CV
Technical CVs – why are they different & why do they need their own style?
A CV is often the first opportunity for a potential employer to assess how you present yourself. There is a fine line between selling yourself on an IT-specific CV and blinding prospective employers with a load of technical jargon and not much else.
Seeing the recruitment process from both client and candidate perspective, we appreciate how a technical CV requires it’s own particular style and have noted below some suggestions to help you make that all-important first impression a positive one.
Highlight your technical skills
Refer to the job description throughout your CV, and highlight relevant skills making them easy to find, which usually means having them as bullet points near the top.
Be aware that IT moves quickly
Ensure you have the up-to-date skills and expertise needed for the job. Your IT support technician job in 2006 won’t be relevant to the job advertised this week. By all means these roles can be included however it needs to be as current as possible.
Highlight professional qualifications
Make sure your professional qualifications don’t get lost in the crowd. Set aside a section dedicated to these and put them on the first page.
Give examples of how technical skills were utilised
The applicant for a technical job has two challenges: first, demonstrate in your CV and/or cover letter that you can do it at all. Second, prove you’re good at it, this can include links to specific examples of technical work i.e. portfolios / code examples on Github or Stackoverflow. Be aware that many technical jobs will require you to complete a test prior to a meeting or interview to prove your competency.
Balance between technical and soft skills
The key to writing an effective CV for this sector is to get the right balance between describing your experience and competency while also communicating your soft skills. Making it understandable to a non-technical person – such as a human resources manager or recruitment consultant – is a bonus too.
Focus on achievements and outcomes with a commercial viewpoint
Explaining that you were responsible for re-writing an e-commerce package is fine, however, it’s preferable to acknowledge that you’re aware of the commercial aspect & impact this had on the company. Therefore, something along these lines gives more credibility ‘I was responsible for re-writing an e-commerce package which I did on schedule and which led to increased web sales by 50%,’
Always include a cover letter
A cover letter is the perfect way to draw attention to specific skills and experience.
Overlook the two page rule
Technical CVs often have a full page listing specific qualifications or previous work contracts which leaves little space for anything else. Employers in this industry will expect more than a two-page CV so it’s ok to run to three or even four pages.
However…. Don’t overdo the boxes (i.e. don’t be too detailed/complex)
With many IT-based CVs there’s a tendency to compartmentalise, especially when there’s so much information to pass on. Try to steer clear of boxing everything in. Instead be as concise as is sensible whilst still relaying the relevant information and use bold font and underlining to draw attention to certain pieces of information.