Crafting Your Developer CV for Dream Job Success

Andy Charters
.
August 23, 2023

Working in IT headhunting has been amazing.

From helping tech professionals find that great role they've been aiming at to assisting those that want to transition from other industries, it has been a rewarding experience.

Over the years, many tech talents, both developers and business leaders have become close friends.

So, picking their brains is something I regularly do when I get the chance.

Recently I got the opportunity to discuss the ideal developer resume for the purpose of landing that dream job.

Let’s face it, the programming niche is highly competitive.

While there's enough room for as many qualified tech professionals and even aspiring ones, the bar just keeps getting high when it comes to the type of talents tech hiring managers desire.

Yes, it's important to get the desired hard skill sought after in the industry. Soft skills are also vital.

Still, being able to present yourself and what you are capable of is a different ball game.

A CV might be one of the oldest requirements in landing a job, yet it has not lost its relevance in an ever-changing tech world.

manager

Before the recruiter sees you in person, your CV might just be the only ticket to landing that dream job.

Therefore, knowing how to construct your CV is as important as acquiring your needed skills.

I've put together a few tips on how to construct an ideal developer CV, you may have heard of a few, some might even sound cliche, but you'll do well not to overlook them as many developers wish they heard of them sooner.

1. Present your skills upfront

You are a techie, you don't want to adopt the traditional/general resume writing style in the labor market, where a long-winding summary and objective precedes every other thing.

Yes, a fancy summary and catchy objective isn't a bad idea, but trust me, it's not the best approach when you are aiming at catching the attention of an equal techie CEO or a software development team lead.

No doubt, it's a gunfight, so you'll do well to show the guns early before you start to lose.

The thing is, tech companies' hiring managers are usually more interested in the juicy details of an applicant, which are the applicant's skill set.

Yes, you'll find some resume style with the skills mentioned somewhere under the experience or work history section. You don't want to do that.

The experience section is usually detailed with information, like the name of the companies you've worked for, years of engagement, job function, and so on.

On the other hand, a list of your technical skill set gives the hiring person a glance at what you are capable of.

For example, the programming languages you can “dance” with and your competence level.

If you collapse both the experience details and skill set together, the former has a way of overshadowing your skillset.

In order not to go with the risk of getting the viewer of your resume bored before seeing the “juicy” part of your resume, have a skills section that will come in first at the top where the eyes will naturally go to first.

2. Objectives & Summary: To be or Not to be?

The presence of the objective and professional summary section in a CV has always been up for debate. Some CV-writing experts say it's not needed.

Others say it's not compulsory but necessary addition.

Many that are in support of a summary believe it has a way of formally introducing an applicant without making the resume arrangement look like a quick rush into the education or employment history.

But hey, you are not just any type of professional; you are a tech person whose competence can't be justified with a two-line fancy summary.

I've seen a couple of CVs with a professional summary that looks like this: "Seasoned software developer with over eight years coding and software development experience".

That summary didn't look like it's doing any justice to the developer's wealth of experience. If it did anything, it seems more like watering down the developer’s skills.

So, I’ll say thanks for the professional summary idea, but no thanks.

When it comes to the objective, it's not a totally useless idea.

The reason is, it can come in handy when you want to prevent the hiring manager from boxing your skills and competence into a specific role.

If you are a senior software developer aiming at an administrative position or a higher managing role, an objective section can do your resume some good.

However, if you are a newbie, a fresh out of college geek, or a junior developer, it's not a bad idea to ditch the objective part of your resume.

To me, it’s just more information at the top that could distract the hiring manager or viewer.

3. Education/College degree matters, but not so much

In case you graduated from Harvard, Yale, MIT, or any other prestigious college, you can cool your engines as this tip isn't about watering the importance of a college degree.

But here's the thing, the tech world is ever-changing.

Apart from the fundamental theories and principles guiding processes, the knowledge gained in school sometimes has little to do with the current trends in the programming world after a couple of years.

Nevertheless, if you are entering the software development job market right out of college, your college degree is probably your current most outstanding achievement.

So, it's fine if you want to position it at the top, where the hiring manager will quickly see it.

However, if you have spent some years out there as a “code warrior'' working on projects, trust me, your college degree isn't the first thing the head of research and development will be looking out for.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying you shouldn't have your education history on your resume.

What I mean is you can always place it somewhere around the bottom after your skills, employment history, and professional achievements.

The hiring manager that needs your education information can find it there.

4. Format your resume

Gone were the days of paper resumes. Still, the 21st-century resume format doesn't make it less of a document.

The only difference is that the hiring managers have to view and read them on computer screens.

Because the soft format gives you plenty of room to dance around with the final outlook of your resume, a lousy-looking resume can make it easy for whoever's hiring you to ignore your application quickly.

While it's a good idea to put in some effort with the formatting, bear in mind that this is not an art exhibition.

Furthermore, it's not an opportunity to show your impressive graphic design skills.

You can go ahead to jazz things up a bit; however, what you should be aiming at as a software developer should be to enhance the readability of your document.

The first formatting step you don't want to ignore is to adopt legible fonts, especially when you are sending in a PDF document that isn't format-able for the viewer.

Whether in Word or PDF format, it's best to make sure the information is easy to read at first click.

A size-11 or 12 is not a bad idea, however, note that formats like Calibri appear smaller than other formats like Arial of the same size.

Another way to go is to format your resume to have enough white spaces.

The essence of this is to prevent your resume from looking jam-packed or too dense.

At the same time, keep it simple so that you don't end up with too many pages, which is another avenue to get your reader bored. Yes, I mentioned PDF or Word format earlier.

Trust me; you'd be on the safe side sending your document in Word format unless it was requested in PDF. It is quite possible for the hiring manager's computer to be devoid of a PDF viewer.

Besides, most recruiters ask for resumes in Microsoft Word format, so it's best you go with the conventional trend with this one.

Altogether, keep in mind that your resume is what will sell you to potential hiring managers while you are absent.

If the viewer can't access the information because of technical or illegibility issues, they will likely not call you to send another resume.

The plausible move is to move to the next candidate on the list.

5. Don't list roles, list achievement

listing

Yes, you have a good job title, like quality assurance manager or research and development supervisor.

That's great, but who cares about the title. The hiring manager wants to know your conquests.

What have you achieved working in the capacity of a quality manager? What ideas have you brought to the table that help the company you worked for as a research developer?

6. Direct the hiring person to see more

Remember that your CV can't be too long to avoid the risk of boring the reader.

So, a good idea to make things count without adding so much detail is using links.

Do you have a couple of projects to brag about?

Perhaps a website you recently designed or a mobile app, add a link somewhere around your list of accomplishments that'll direct the reader to see more.

This part of your resume could help you outwit another candidate of the same level of competence and qualification.

7. Unless it's necessary, don't make it lengthy

Try to keep the length of your resume between two to four pages. If you spend time working on several short projects, chances are, your resume can be lengthy.

However, if you are just entering the development market, avoid boring the reader with details that matter.

Basically, spend more time telling the hiring manager about your skills, competence level, and achievement.

8. Check for grammar, spelling, mistakes

In IT headhunting, trust me when I say I’ve seen a whole lot of resumes that'll make you think the candidate stumbled upon the application two minutes to the closing date.

Applicants make all sorts of embarrassing mistakes, from the wrongly spelling of the college name to the improper use of tense.

It's a red flag for me when a candidate isn't patient enough to check the spelling and grammar on a resume meant for an important job application.

How on earth will such a candidate be patient enough to do something as simple as test codes?

 

9. Try to avoid putting the hiring manager at legal risk

This tip could cost you a seat at the interview table but it's a good thing you are here.

So, how can you put a hiring manager at potential legal risk, which can make him or her want to completely avoid your profile?

Here's the thing, no hiring manager, whether in the tech world or other industry, likes being accused of discrimination or prejudice in a hiring process.

So, when they have to interview candidates with hotspot information on their resumes, they have to consciously avoid questions that can put them in a fix.

cv

Some of them don't like being in such a situation, so they try to avoid it altogether. So, what should you do?

You can avoid putting yourself in a situation where a hiring manager might see your application as a potentially difficult one.

There's no need to add details about your religion, sexual orientation, race, nationality, etc.

These pieces of information are not needed for you to be productive at your job. Therefore, leave them out.

10. For the Entry-Level developers

I put this one if you are a newbie software developer or a yet to graduate tech student because you have little or no bragging on your resume.

Because of your less experienced status, it's easy to run the risk of presenting a resume that looks like every other resume out there.

Nevertheless, you can set yourself apart from the rest.

Perhaps you didn't have any internship opportunities in college; you can package your unique class project into your resume in a very attractive way.

While you may not have worked on many or even any projects, you can highlight programming languages that interest you.

However, you'll do well if you've started working on your competence level. Remember that even the basic knowledge of programming languages has its use in the tech world.

You can present to the hiring manager your small level of competency and what you have been doing or how you have been curious with the knowledge you have.



I hope you found this article useful. Here at Cloud Employee, we assist both developers looking for work and companies looking to hire dedicated offshore developers across many technologies. Talk to us, learn more about how Cloud Employee works, or see our Developer Pricing Guide.

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Crafting Your Developer CV for Dream Job Success

February 16, 2024

Working in IT headhunting has been amazing.

From helping tech professionals find that great role they've been aiming at to assisting those that want to transition from other industries, it has been a rewarding experience.

Over the years, many tech talents, both developers and business leaders have become close friends.

So, picking their brains is something I regularly do when I get the chance.

Recently I got the opportunity to discuss the ideal developer resume for the purpose of landing that dream job.

Let’s face it, the programming niche is highly competitive.

While there's enough room for as many qualified tech professionals and even aspiring ones, the bar just keeps getting high when it comes to the type of talents tech hiring managers desire.

Yes, it's important to get the desired hard skill sought after in the industry. Soft skills are also vital.

Still, being able to present yourself and what you are capable of is a different ball game.

A CV might be one of the oldest requirements in landing a job, yet it has not lost its relevance in an ever-changing tech world.

manager

Before the recruiter sees you in person, your CV might just be the only ticket to landing that dream job.

Therefore, knowing how to construct your CV is as important as acquiring your needed skills.

I've put together a few tips on how to construct an ideal developer CV, you may have heard of a few, some might even sound cliche, but you'll do well not to overlook them as many developers wish they heard of them sooner.

1. Present your skills upfront

You are a techie, you don't want to adopt the traditional/general resume writing style in the labor market, where a long-winding summary and objective precedes every other thing.

Yes, a fancy summary and catchy objective isn't a bad idea, but trust me, it's not the best approach when you are aiming at catching the attention of an equal techie CEO or a software development team lead.

No doubt, it's a gunfight, so you'll do well to show the guns early before you start to lose.

The thing is, tech companies' hiring managers are usually more interested in the juicy details of an applicant, which are the applicant's skill set.

Yes, you'll find some resume style with the skills mentioned somewhere under the experience or work history section. You don't want to do that.

The experience section is usually detailed with information, like the name of the companies you've worked for, years of engagement, job function, and so on.

On the other hand, a list of your technical skill set gives the hiring person a glance at what you are capable of.

For example, the programming languages you can “dance” with and your competence level.

If you collapse both the experience details and skill set together, the former has a way of overshadowing your skillset.

In order not to go with the risk of getting the viewer of your resume bored before seeing the “juicy” part of your resume, have a skills section that will come in first at the top where the eyes will naturally go to first.

2. Objectives & Summary: To be or Not to be?

The presence of the objective and professional summary section in a CV has always been up for debate. Some CV-writing experts say it's not needed.

Others say it's not compulsory but necessary addition.

Many that are in support of a summary believe it has a way of formally introducing an applicant without making the resume arrangement look like a quick rush into the education or employment history.

But hey, you are not just any type of professional; you are a tech person whose competence can't be justified with a two-line fancy summary.

I've seen a couple of CVs with a professional summary that looks like this: "Seasoned software developer with over eight years coding and software development experience".

That summary didn't look like it's doing any justice to the developer's wealth of experience. If it did anything, it seems more like watering down the developer’s skills.

So, I’ll say thanks for the professional summary idea, but no thanks.

When it comes to the objective, it's not a totally useless idea.

The reason is, it can come in handy when you want to prevent the hiring manager from boxing your skills and competence into a specific role.

If you are a senior software developer aiming at an administrative position or a higher managing role, an objective section can do your resume some good.

However, if you are a newbie, a fresh out of college geek, or a junior developer, it's not a bad idea to ditch the objective part of your resume.

To me, it’s just more information at the top that could distract the hiring manager or viewer.

3. Education/College degree matters, but not so much

In case you graduated from Harvard, Yale, MIT, or any other prestigious college, you can cool your engines as this tip isn't about watering the importance of a college degree.

But here's the thing, the tech world is ever-changing.

Apart from the fundamental theories and principles guiding processes, the knowledge gained in school sometimes has little to do with the current trends in the programming world after a couple of years.

Nevertheless, if you are entering the software development job market right out of college, your college degree is probably your current most outstanding achievement.

So, it's fine if you want to position it at the top, where the hiring manager will quickly see it.

However, if you have spent some years out there as a “code warrior'' working on projects, trust me, your college degree isn't the first thing the head of research and development will be looking out for.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying you shouldn't have your education history on your resume.

What I mean is you can always place it somewhere around the bottom after your skills, employment history, and professional achievements.

The hiring manager that needs your education information can find it there.

4. Format your resume

Gone were the days of paper resumes. Still, the 21st-century resume format doesn't make it less of a document.

The only difference is that the hiring managers have to view and read them on computer screens.

Because the soft format gives you plenty of room to dance around with the final outlook of your resume, a lousy-looking resume can make it easy for whoever's hiring you to ignore your application quickly.

While it's a good idea to put in some effort with the formatting, bear in mind that this is not an art exhibition.

Furthermore, it's not an opportunity to show your impressive graphic design skills.

You can go ahead to jazz things up a bit; however, what you should be aiming at as a software developer should be to enhance the readability of your document.

The first formatting step you don't want to ignore is to adopt legible fonts, especially when you are sending in a PDF document that isn't format-able for the viewer.

Whether in Word or PDF format, it's best to make sure the information is easy to read at first click.

A size-11 or 12 is not a bad idea, however, note that formats like Calibri appear smaller than other formats like Arial of the same size.

Another way to go is to format your resume to have enough white spaces.

The essence of this is to prevent your resume from looking jam-packed or too dense.

At the same time, keep it simple so that you don't end up with too many pages, which is another avenue to get your reader bored. Yes, I mentioned PDF or Word format earlier.

Trust me; you'd be on the safe side sending your document in Word format unless it was requested in PDF. It is quite possible for the hiring manager's computer to be devoid of a PDF viewer.

Besides, most recruiters ask for resumes in Microsoft Word format, so it's best you go with the conventional trend with this one.

Altogether, keep in mind that your resume is what will sell you to potential hiring managers while you are absent.

If the viewer can't access the information because of technical or illegibility issues, they will likely not call you to send another resume.

The plausible move is to move to the next candidate on the list.

5. Don't list roles, list achievement

listing

Yes, you have a good job title, like quality assurance manager or research and development supervisor.

That's great, but who cares about the title. The hiring manager wants to know your conquests.

What have you achieved working in the capacity of a quality manager? What ideas have you brought to the table that help the company you worked for as a research developer?

6. Direct the hiring person to see more

Remember that your CV can't be too long to avoid the risk of boring the reader.

So, a good idea to make things count without adding so much detail is using links.

Do you have a couple of projects to brag about?

Perhaps a website you recently designed or a mobile app, add a link somewhere around your list of accomplishments that'll direct the reader to see more.

This part of your resume could help you outwit another candidate of the same level of competence and qualification.

7. Unless it's necessary, don't make it lengthy

Try to keep the length of your resume between two to four pages. If you spend time working on several short projects, chances are, your resume can be lengthy.

However, if you are just entering the development market, avoid boring the reader with details that matter.

Basically, spend more time telling the hiring manager about your skills, competence level, and achievement.

8. Check for grammar, spelling, mistakes

In IT headhunting, trust me when I say I’ve seen a whole lot of resumes that'll make you think the candidate stumbled upon the application two minutes to the closing date.

Applicants make all sorts of embarrassing mistakes, from the wrongly spelling of the college name to the improper use of tense.

It's a red flag for me when a candidate isn't patient enough to check the spelling and grammar on a resume meant for an important job application.

How on earth will such a candidate be patient enough to do something as simple as test codes?

 

9. Try to avoid putting the hiring manager at legal risk

This tip could cost you a seat at the interview table but it's a good thing you are here.

So, how can you put a hiring manager at potential legal risk, which can make him or her want to completely avoid your profile?

Here's the thing, no hiring manager, whether in the tech world or other industry, likes being accused of discrimination or prejudice in a hiring process.

So, when they have to interview candidates with hotspot information on their resumes, they have to consciously avoid questions that can put them in a fix.

cv

Some of them don't like being in such a situation, so they try to avoid it altogether. So, what should you do?

You can avoid putting yourself in a situation where a hiring manager might see your application as a potentially difficult one.

There's no need to add details about your religion, sexual orientation, race, nationality, etc.

These pieces of information are not needed for you to be productive at your job. Therefore, leave them out.

10. For the Entry-Level developers

I put this one if you are a newbie software developer or a yet to graduate tech student because you have little or no bragging on your resume.

Because of your less experienced status, it's easy to run the risk of presenting a resume that looks like every other resume out there.

Nevertheless, you can set yourself apart from the rest.

Perhaps you didn't have any internship opportunities in college; you can package your unique class project into your resume in a very attractive way.

While you may not have worked on many or even any projects, you can highlight programming languages that interest you.

However, you'll do well if you've started working on your competence level. Remember that even the basic knowledge of programming languages has its use in the tech world.

You can present to the hiring manager your small level of competency and what you have been doing or how you have been curious with the knowledge you have.



I hope you found this article useful. Here at Cloud Employee, we assist both developers looking for work and companies looking to hire dedicated offshore developers across many technologies. Talk to us, learn more about how Cloud Employee works, or see our Developer Pricing Guide.

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