Here’s a quick list of Dos and Don’ts when writing resumés for an IT position.
I’m an engineer at Stone Payments, a brazilian credit card acquirer, and a big part of our workforce is composed of IT people. Also, I’ve entered a team in the company that was quickly growing, and therefore had to interview a lot of prospect new colleagues. While the People Team (that’s how the call the HR here) definitely does a great job of helping us to decide about the interviewed’s character and attitude, it cannot help us when determining their technical skills. Therefore, we, engineers, also have to do interviewing.
The result is that I noticed that a breathtakingly large sum of programmers/sysadmins don’t know how to write a proper curriculum for their area, relying instead on general tips found on job sites or nothing at all. So I decided to try to help those people on how to express their skills that sometimes passes under our radar, possibly losing valuable candidates in the process.
These tips not only will help you to write a curriculum that is great to read, but will also show you’re capable of prioritizing relevant information and make your CV stand out from the rest. We receive a lot of noise, and is not always easy to scoop up good applicants from the pile of CVs we receive daily. Help your prospect employer to choose you!
So, here’s it:
- Organize your jobs in reverse chronology, most recent first. List a few bullet points on each one about what you did. Write when you entered it and when you left it. Don’t write why: we will ask this in the interview.
- Tailor your CV to show the most relevant skills to each prospect employer.
- Troughly organize your resumé, and it’s probably better not to use Microsoft Word for this task. If you can do it well with Word, great. I personally cannot, and recommend to use a tool that makes a very clear distintiction between content hierarchy and formatting. We like and recommend LaTeX. Is very easy to distinguish a document made with LaTeX and shows you know how to deal with professional documents. It also shows you know how to treat documents as code, which is very important for a devops-cultured company.
- Make a list of technologies/languages you’ve already worked with. Even though we don’t hire for knowledge on specific technologies (we prefer to teach), it’s easier to know what your expertise background is. It also helps when scanning trough a pile of CVs.
- Put the links to (if you have): your Github, your blog, your Twitter. Github is a must for a programming position, keep a rich, well-organized and interesting Github profile. A blog is a plus, it shows you know how to express yourself and are communicative. If you normally tweet about your job or IT-related hobbies, also put your Twitter account. Be aware, thought, that most IT companies scoop their employees’ social medias for antisocial behaviour, like constant trolling, prejudice and, of course, crime-related talks.
- Put the city you live on.
- Put hobbies related to IT. We love seeing that the applicant is really passionate about the area they work in.
- List your personal projects (IT-related) if you have any. In the interview itself we may ask for non-IT-related projects to get to know you better.
- Use the PDF format for the resumé. In IT, people use a pletheora of different operating systems and office suites: the only format that looks uniform and is well parsed in all those is PDF.
- Put your name and date in the filename.
- Put a cellphone contact. This makes easier if we have to reschedule the interview if Skype crashes, Hangouts don’t open or any kind of comm technology don’t work (which is kind of the norm, unfortunately).
- Write your email address. It makes easier to find you if we print the PDF to read with colleagues and then happen to not find your email in our mailbox.
- Put your major degree if you have one, but my company normally doesn’t care about it. It looks pretty, though.
- Put your technology certifications. We value those much more than a college degree.
- Put the talks/workshops/demos/courses you may have ministered. It shows you can pass along your knowledge.
- Describe the area you love the most in IT. It may be helpful to place you better on the team.
- If your name isn’t generally associated with your gender, or you’re transgender, specify how you would like to be treated to avoid tight spots on the interview. Specially in languages like portuguese, it’s very hard to talk to people in a completely gender-neutral way. Be transparent and tell the employer how you like to be called. At companies that respects diversity, this will be very well received and both parties will have a nicer time when meeting in person.
- Specify which idioms you know and how well you speak them (novice, intermediate, fluent, native or something of the sorts).
- Use a common sans-serif font for titles, and a common serif font for the body. Never more than two fonts.
- Put volunteer work you may have done: it shows you have energy and prone to kindness, exactly the kind of people we want around us.
- Put a photo: most IT people are ugly (myself included). Nobody likes to see that, haha. Also, it may trigger some racial bias (even though we try to avoid, it’s very hard to escape from it).
- Write Curriculum Vitae, Resume or anything of the sort on the resumé. The title is your name.
- Put your address: we really don’t care which part of the city you live, as long it is the same city we want you into.
- Put your high-school name.
- Put any kind of religion/politics views. This also helps the triggering of our unconscious biases, and may even show you don’t know how to separate your personal life from your work life. If your views explicitely forbids you from doing something work-related, like working on saturdays for example, mention it on the interview.
- Use a childish font like Comic Sans. It makes you look immature.
- Send the resume in a .doc, .docx, .odt or anything like that.
- Put the phone contact of your mom, SO, or anything like that.
- Use a stupid email name you created when you were a child, or from a prehistoric ISP domain.
- Put your Facebook. Facebook is much more intimate than Twitter. We really don’t care about your interactions with your exes.
- Put your marital status. We may ask it on the interview, but is just like a trivia to break ice. It’s not relevant to the job.
- Put your age. This is really specific to IT. We really don’t care. The only exception is if you’re a minor, so there’s need to be a different kind of contract, so in this case mention it.
- Write banal hobbies: like Netflix or sleeping. We normally ask about hobbies and things you do to space out in the interview and it’s completely OK to answer something like this to break the ice, but this doesn’t belong in the document.
I hope these tips might help you on presenting yourself better. I will provide further tips soon on how to behave in the interview itself, another challenge on IT that isn’t quite what other job offers presents.