This is a guest blog from Paul Hichens, leading UK authority on CV writing, and author of the book The One Page CV.
As head writer of top CV company, CVSucceed.co.uk I have helped a great many clients from all sectors up the career ladder. Whilst it is always dangerous to generalise, one observation over the years is that IT professionals usually need more help with their CV than a lot of counterparts in other sectors.
There is a bit of an anomaly here in that many IT professionals are intelligent, well-educated and can find their way around MS Word with their eyes closed. Even so, the fact remains that a great many IT professionals struggle to create a job winning CV, and that many IT sector workers miss out on jobs that they could have otherwise landed if only they had a better CV.
So why is this?
I think there are a number of reasons, but the main ones are these;
Firstly, (and after examining thousands of IT CVs over the years), I think it is quite clear that a lot of techies just aren't natural writers; and whilst they may be a whizz with wizards, a maestro with microchips and a dab hand at databases, not every IT professional is the most gifted when it comes to selling himself/herself on paper. This isn't so surprising really because the ability to write creatively, powerfully and persuasively is an elusive talent that is rare amongst genuine creative types, let alone scientific sorts.
Secondly, (and again after examining thousands of IT CVs over the years), I don't think that many IT professionals really understand what a really effective CV is. Most IT CVs that I receive are written primarily from the candidate's perspective, not the employer's. This isn't so uncommon, and people in other sectors make the same mistake too. Even so, the fact remains that your CV is a sales document, and if you don't give enough consideration to your customer (in this case the employer), then you won't make a sale (or in this case land your ideal job).
Thirdly, many IT professionals have a tendency to overdo it on the technical front when it comes to creating their CV. Since this article is for an IT sector website I will elaborate in suitable IT terms;
Imagine you are a programmer and are charged with taking over a pre-existing IT system. You look at the code and it is 1000 lines long, with no commenting of procedures, no recognisable nomenclature and a hotchpotch of complicated 'If...else' clauses, none of which are aligned, and some of which are commented out here and there.
What would be your first impressions of such code?
Probably not that good.
Now imagine you had to take over a system which did exactly the same thing, but it's coding was just 30 lines with proper nomenclature, appropriate commenting and very efficient concise coding using e.g. plug-ins/objects.
Would that be more enticing to read by any chance?
Funnily enough, many IT professionals don't consider such things when they write their CV, which is one reason why many IT CVs are long (the longest I have seen is 30 pages), unfocused and too complicated. And that's just for starters, a lot of IT professionals also struggle with CV presentation, formatting, flow, balance and much more.
If you feel you will fall into this category then the first thing to remember is that you are not alone, many thousands of IT professionals are in exactly the same boat as you. The good news is that you can do something about it, and the main reason why I wrote my CV book was to help people in your situation. The trick is actually doing something positive and proactive about it, because if you don't, your competitors will. So act first!
Paul Hichens is a leading UK authority on CV writing, and is author of the groundbreaking book The One Page CV, published by top career sector publishers, Pearson Education. Paul also has a master's degree in IT, as well as considerable experience writing IT CVs and quality web content for individual and business clients internationally.