Developer Musings

Resumé Red Flags

After looking through tonnes of resumés, they all begin to blend into one. But, I wanted to share some red flags I see that are unique to software developers. It’s a mine field to prepare an eye catching, yet informative CV. According to the undercover recruiter, hiring managers spend 5-7 seconds looking at a CV. I can attest to the fact that this is unfortunately true. It’s another discussion about whether CV’s are an effective way of conveying a persons ability (spoiler: it’s not). But, that’s by the by. It’s a reality we all have to face. So, here’s some things to avoid to help you gain that edge.

1. Don’t include a picture of yourself

This is not so prevalent in the UK and US but is often the case in other countries. I would recommend airing on the side of caution and get rid of the photo. It is (or at least should be) irrelevant to someones decision to hire you.

2. Put Your Work Experience At the Top

This is what myself and others are looking for when hiring someone. Why put this above your education? You have to think about the purpose of a CV. It’s for someone to see if you can do a job. If you have relevant work experience to the job then you want to bring peoples eyes there.

If you don’t have any work experience, include your personal projects, freelance work or open source contributions.

3. Don’t use Skill Meters

More and more, I have seen CV’s that have bars indicating their skill at various technologies. Although many argue that it shows a “high-level” overview of someones ability, I find it loses all meaning. After all, what is 80% Javascript and 50% CSS? Illusory superiority exists because many think they are above average. In 1981, a survey took place to rate a persons own driving ability. 93% of participants in the US ranked themselves in the top 50%. Mathematically, this cannot be correct. So, evaluations of ones own skill level is flawed. And, should not be included on a CV. Speak with your experience, not fancy formatting.

4. List the Tech You Used in Various Roles

When recruiters look at your CV, they are looking to see if the technology you’ve used most recently is relevant to the job they have.

For the sake of easy parsing, I include a sentence at the end of each experience section that says “In this role, I used the following technologies…“.

5. Use Short Concise Sentences

As we have already covered, people aren’t reading your CV. And, if they do, you don’t want to bombard them with information. Try to keep things information dense but concise. I recommend using hemingwayapp.com to help do this.

6. Don’t Bother with Interpersonal Skills

No one is going to say they don’t work well in a team. Or, that they’re irritable without an intravenous supply of caffeine. So, remove it and speak about how you worked amongst teams in your work experience.

7. Try to Avoid Using “We”

This is a challenging balance. Rarely, as software developers, do we work alone. But, it’s prudent to speak about your individual contributions rather than ones made as a group. Using the phrase “we” makes people think you didn’t actually contribute much. You can embellish but don’t lie.

8. Don’t Name Individual Libraries You’ve Used

Unless the library or framework is something that someone would hire for, don’t include it. It doesn’t matter if you’ve used RxJS or Lodash. It does matter if you’ve used Typescript or React though.

9. Write what role you want in your personal profile

Your personal profile is a great chance to speak about what you want from a role. Remember your audience. If you’re applying for a role as a full stack engineer, and you’ve before worked as a frontend engineer - then write about why you want to move into such a role. It’s wise to add why you would be a good fit. For example, a friend was moving into cyber security engineering after being an electrician. They spoke about how their problem solving skills applied across industries.

10. Your GitHub and Website say far more than a CV

If you get passed the first filter, then it’s likely that the person interviewing you will want more information. Including your website or GitHub will give them great insight into what drives you, your experience and determination.

I hope these 10 tips help you as you create your resumé. If you need any help with your CV then there are many friendly communities (such as MidlandsJS) that will help you.