Tom Fahey, managing director of specialist IT recruitment firm First Point, gives five essential CV tips to IT professionals.
Lists of skills and achievements have their place, but unless your CV makes it very clear where, when and how you have used the key technologies and experiences associated with a position, you are leaving room for doubt about your skills. Date projects and put all your experience in the context of the role or project in which you gained it.
If you sold cars and someone told you they wanted a hatchback you wouldn't send them a brochure for 4x4s. Your CV is your sales brochure - each job advertisement is the requirement of a buyer. With the sheer volume of applicants currently vying for positions, if you do not chose to supply a recruiter with the information they are requesting about your skills and experience do not expect them to read between the lines.
Filtering through 100 CVs is, by necessity, a matter of speed. Help employers navigate your CV at speed by letting them know where they are with visual indicators. This is not complicated. Select a series of fonts, text sizes and indents and assign each a specific role on your CV. Think: main text, job titles/education, companies worked for, dates, older employment history etc. Be consistent in your use of headings and indents so the employer knows exactly what they are reading.
Communicate in English, not in business or IT speak. Read your CV back. Does it read like a functional spec, or a conversation with a friend? By all means, be technical, but try to use concise prose that reads easily and ties information together, not hundreds of one line bullet points.
Strong communication skills, dynamic, intelligent, hard-working, career-orientated, able to work in a team. All of these may describe you, but taken out of context, all of them are clichés currently used indiscriminately on 90% of CVs. They are dead space and have lost all meaning. Focus on what you actually do, not on clichés that describe soft skills everyone claims to possess.