How to make a good CV? – CV writing tips for IT professionals
The first article of my series and perhaps the most popular subject among job seekers is the writing of curriculum vitae as the most important document of the job search.
Many IT professionals ask me what a good CV looks like when they come to me for an interview or a career management discussion. It is hard to answer this question, because every career path is different. At the same time I find that a lot of CV templates are circulating on the Internet often with bizarre format, not focusing on the professional content at all, but the sheer sensation. Therefore, my goal is to summarize the main elements of an IT specific CV that can be used by the ones who wants to build a career in the IT sector, and can be easily interpreted by decision makers, as well.
Key parts include:
- Name, email address, phone number
- Summary of IT related experience or objectives in 2-3 lines
- 3 or 5 most relevant technologies with the professional level and an indication of how many years of experience we have in each
- 4 or 5 strongest interpersonal skills, without using clichés
- IT work experience per company, going back in time, but focusing on the current one:
- An introductory sentence about the company’s main activities
- Major projects, tasks, responsibilities, mentioning technologies, as well
- Short problem solving examples, what they were and how they were solved
- Successes, results expressed in figures and percentages
- Highest schools, diplomas, certificates, qualifications, examinations mentioned briefly
To explain the above let us start with point 1. For personal information your name, email address and telephone number is enough to mention. I would suggest that you share them in the CV if you want to be reached. Do not use your business phone number because if it changes, you can no longer be approached with new job opportunities. You should not write down your permanent address, lest anyone should abuse it, but if it is essential from commuting point of view, you can of course mention the place where you live during the interview. Do not put down your date of birth lest you should be discriminated and not to be invited for interview claiming that you are “old” or “too young”. Your mother’s name, number of children, other family or personal information at this stage is completely uninteresting. Needless to say that you should use your own name in the email address, avoiding funny and provocative names. You can put a photo on your CV but it is not a must. If you make it with a photo you risk that they might not call you for a personal interview, because based on the image for some reason you may not be considered attractive enough, or on the contrary, you will only be called because you seem to be appealing.
The point 2 is the summary or the professional goals in 2-3 lines. I tend to think that a good summary is better since it is more general and you can send your CV to more places. However, when applying for a particular job, it can be more effective to write a professional goal. It is important that it includes the area we are the best at (such as software development, testing, system engineering, ERP systems) and how many years of experience and what level of knowledge we have in that. Let me show you a summary example:
“Senior IT Project Manager with 7 years of experience in Java based software development, with an ISTQB certification in software testing and advance level knowledge of different database technologies .”
In the point 3 I propose that you list the five most powerful technologies that you are really good at, as well as indicate the number of years of experience and the professional level. You do not need to list every tool, methodology, system, program that you have ever met, only those that you truly are at a professional level.
Point 4 is the list of the five most powerful personal abilities that are most characteristic of you during the work. So the most interesting personality traits are the ones that are related to work and that you can write about yourself and your colleagues would say about you without repeating platitudes. Avoid using clichés with which you meet in job advertisements, but rather try to write 2-3 words about your own properties. The bottom line is that you write about your real strengths.
In order to present your technical and personal skills better you can make two columns. I’ll show you an example:
|· Project management: 7 years, advanced level||· Focused and persistent with project-oriented attitude|
|· Java programming: 6 years, advanced level||· Inventive and very good at putting innovation into practice|
|· Oracle DBA skills: 4 years, intermediate level||· Systematic person with excellent time management skills|
|· Linux administration: 10 years, intermediate level||· Realistic and clear-sighted with tactical thinking|
|· Perl scripting: 10 years, intermediate level||· Excellent oral and presentation skills|
I would like to demonstrate point 5 and 6, i.e. “work experience” and “highest qualification” with the help of an example, the curriculum vitae of one of my previous candidates. The introductory part is worth having a look at too, because they are pretty much in line with those suggested in the above guideline.
Sample CV for IT professionals
|FIRST NAME, SURNAME
I wish to work as a member of highly skilled professional team to employ and further develop my IT management skills in a position with high responsibilities. Take part in successful client system integration, strategy development and IT governance projects and through continuously improving my professional skills, instruct and counsel junior colleagues.
Consulting company II., Budapest
Consulting company II. is a global company specialized in creating IT solutions and system integration.
IT Strategy Consultant, 10/2011 – present
Cutover manager – Global SAP template roll-out (telecommunications)
Responsible for the cutover preparation and execution including migration activities; Created project cutover concept along with the detailed activity plan for the go-live period; Delivering other cutover materials (fall-back concept, interface-, process go-live plan); coordinated activities according local/global activity plan
System integration expert – Global SAP template roll-out (telecommunications)
Managed the development lifecycle and integration of non-SAP business intelligence and planning applications (2000+ MD overall) to the local and global SAP landscape; Led the SAP BI interface testing team (80 interfaces)
IT strategy expert – Large scale application, IT governance and infrastructure assessment (bank)
230 business and IT interviews; analysed 130 applications; 400 IT governance capabilities; 350+ recommendations; evaluated 20+ running projects; developed roadmap for 18 months;
IT governance expert – ITIL based IT operation transformation project (bank)
Defined IT governance framework; implemented 2 processes (test & release); designed 2 processes (incident & problem); 2 tools redesigned; trained 210 people
IT governance expert – Rapid IT Governance Assessment (bank)
Evaluated the maturity of selected IT processes against ITIL; Assessed 9 IT processes; delivered quantitate evaluations and findings; developed 30+ quick win and medium term recommendations
IT strategy expert, Subject matter expert – Controlling and Reporting System Concept (utilities)
Developed a decision paper describing the actual situation, recommendation and the possible to-be structures; Assessed 2 processes (reporting & controlling); identified ~50 findings; developed 3 detailed options (BI + controlling system)
Consulting company I., Budapest
Instructor, technical support, 09/2008 – 05/2011
Teaching the usage of digital signature and Electronic Firm Registration, both in theory and in practice for small groups. More than 250 satisfied lawyers and law firms in 3 years
2011: MSC IN COMPUTER SCIENCE – SPECIAL ON SECURITY OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS, BUDAPEST UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY AND ECONOMICS
Hungarian: mother tongue
English: Proficient user, fluent (C1)
I would also add to the above example that its length clearly shows that the writer focuses on the current work and devotes the longest part to it. Obviously, because the most recent experience gained in the current role is the most relevant one and the intention is to emphasize it. The short paragraph is devoted to the previous job. The candidate is using the available space on the page well, without leaving wide margins, so does not inflate the CV to more than 2-3 pages in length.
In addition to the above considerations there are, of course, plenty of ideas to improve the readability of your CV. In this paper, however, I tried to concentrate on the most important points. If the IT professionals facing a career change use my proposed format, they will give a lot of help to the decision-makers, and they will reach their goal a lot faster, which is eventually the personal interview.
Pintér Zsolt: Hogyan csináljunk karriert?
Adecco Group, Way to Work, Career Center