Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/10/your_cv/

Why your tech CV sucks

And here's how we can help

By Dominic Connor

Posted in Jobs, 10th November 2011 11:02 GMT

No, really. Your CV really, really stinks. I read these things for a living and the quality varies a lot more than it should considering what you are selling.

Over the next few years you are asking to be paid more than the cost of a Ferrari and the desk space, computer kit and coffee you use over that time means you cost at least twice what you earn.

Does Ferrari say it makes “reelly good carrrs”? No, it bloody doesn’t. So why do you spell the name of your degree subject wrong? Why do you use slightly different fonts in each paragraph that screw with my ancient pimp’s eyes?

Why in the name of God do you think I care that you did OS/2 v1.1 in 1989? You may have just finished a PhD in Physics from Cambridge or Stanford, but your astonishing lack of any clue is demonstrated by the fact that more space is given over to the summer job you had in Starbucks than describing why you might actually be of use to the investment banks I recruit for.

Sometimes, just to wind me up, you send me a blue CV. Yes, black text on a blue background. Not only does the motivation for this leave me dumbfounded but when I blogged that this was silly several people somehow interpreted “please don’t send blue CVs” as “please do”.

Why do you send your CV to me with no mobile phone number? Do you not have one? Nor a landline? Why do you think your religion means you are a great match for my requirement of hardcore C++ skills?

I already know you want to leave your current job or else we wouldn’t be talking. So why are you listing the defects of your employer? Do you think it makes you look good?

Why did you send the file as a Word document? That may not sound too bad until you realise that every damned word you spelled wrong is underlined in red on my screen and your grammar is also ridiculed by a £70 bit of software that is apparently smarter than you.

You are a waste of space

Space on your CV is incredibly valuable; you can’t list every reason to give you money. So why do you put “Curriculum vitae” in 24 point? I know it’s a CV, and I know the rambling list of failed projects you worked on is your “Professional Experience”. You could have used those lines for a buzzword that might have got you an interview.

In case that rant hasn’t got through, let me explain that even in a good market the art of recruitment almost entirely involves weeding out the losers, and let me tell you right here officially as the best known headhunter in finance: these ain't the best of times.

The standard algorithm for badly spelled, crap CVs is to throw them away; not only will recruiting managers tell you this but so will HR.

The average HR has to deal with everything from sales droids to accountants as well as thirty different flavours of techie. Do you think she has a deep and informed view of the relative merits of Python and Ruby? Really? And she knows that Sybase SQL is much nearer MS SQL than either are to Oracle? Get real. She can, however, spell and identify sloppiness, which is not ideal for someone vying to write the backup script for critical servers. Did I say any of this was fair? No, I did not.

You wrote your CV years ago when you realised the first job you took was a terrible mistake, then you added a bit more when you moved and now you include things that even you don’t care about anymore.

You are a liar

People lie to recruiters because they know we’re stupid and liars as well. So that makes it OK, does it?

You need to meet my goddaughter’s mother; she founded the biggest CV-checking business in the country. For a few dozen quid they will check the facts and look for gaps. This isn’t high-tech privacy invasion, that’s too expensive, but they do check your qualifications, your history of employment as well as your credit history and Google you a bit. They have simple procedures because they’re cheap and if what you say doesn’t exactly match what they see then you get flagged.

It’s my fault and your problem

As above, I am apparently not worth the truth. But you need to be consistent in your contempt for me. I’m too ignorant to spot that BSD is a form of Unix, or that GCC can compile C++, and I’m buzzword driven. Managers give them to me and I type them into a search field. One day soon the clients will do that without me being involved at all. If you want a job, don’t make me think too hard because I can’t.

Your education is pitiful

Why do you think I care that you went to the top engineering school in Australia? That might be true, but you need to understand that I’m prejudiced as well as stupid. I have formed extremely negative views about Fordham in New York and Reading in the UK and good views about other places. Some of my opinions are no doubt entirely wrong, out of date and spiteful, but you just make yourself look desperate by saying your university is good.

You’re foreign

For better or worse we have a global labour market, and I approve of this and have scorn for dimwit arts graduates like Theresa May, who doesn’t even seem to be able to implement an immigration policy competently. But it’s the law, so if you were born in a different country to the one you want to work in, or have a name that makes that a question, put the fact that you can legally work here right at the top. Some people born here resent that advice. Fine, I resent having to give it, but my job is to tell it like it is.

You need to get your CV read by a native English speaker. This game uses a specialist dialect and things that look good in essays look dumb in CVs. That advice unfortunately also applies to many native speakers as well - buy a beer for a mate and hand him your CV.

Lastly, I’m greedy

My job is recruitment. To get a job, harness my lust for cash by providing me with good ammunition. I'll put it another way: learning Apache Struts with Java is about 20 times as much work as fixing your CV even though the latter pays back more. ®

Dominic Connor is a tech headhunter in the City of London. If you want to send him your black and blue CV, you'll need to find him first.