On Developer CVs

May 16, 2013 | 2 minutes read

Tags: blog

At this point, I’ve been reviewing CVs with FeedHenry for over a year, both for roles in Ireland and the US. I’ve seen hundreds – many fresh out of college, and some who’ve spent years in industry. I’m not a recruiter – I’m an engineer looking to grow the team, and find a bunch of people who I’d like to work with.

Unfortunately, a large portion of the CVs I see are pretty awful. Here’s some general advice that doesn’t apply specifically to FeedHenry – in fact, it should help in applying to any startup.

Your cover letter, to me at least, isn’t all that important. I’ll probably read two paragraphs worth, and I’m much more likely to read it if it’s in the body of the email rather than in a separate document. This may horrify your careers advisor, but end the email like you’d end any other  – skip the “Yours sincerely”!

Now for the important stuff – the CV. A PDF gets some bonus points – nobody likes having to open Microsoft Word, and there’s a chance some won’t have it installed at all. A typical CV gets about **30 seconds **attention. That’s 20 seconds on the first page, a further 10 on the next. This first pass is crucial – if I’m still interested, I’ll then start to read in more detail.
Unless you’ve racked up a lot of industry experience, you shouldn’t have any more than two pages.

Not only is the content important, so is the order. I don’t always make it beyond the first page. Here’s a rough list of what I’m looking for, in order:

  • Contact & personal details
    (Including a Github account – don’t have one? Get to work, this is the single greatest value you can add..)
  • List your skills – those you know best go first. Feel free to categorise by proficiency, e.g. “Proficient in:”, “Knowledge of:”, or indeed category – e.g. “Programming languages”, “Frameworks”.
  • List your personal projects. These are projects you’ve done in your spare time, not as part of professional work or college coursework. Haven’t got any? I’ve probably stopped reading.
  • List your relevant industry experience. This doesn’t include that job as a Service Station Attendant 6 years ago where you learnt about responsibility. Don’t care.
  • This post quickly reverted to bullets. Your CV should do the same. 

Following these steps won’t work for every company, but for any self-respecting startup, these steps should raise your chances of at least getting to the interview stage. Best of luck!