How to write a great CV for techies

Do you want to land a job in your dream company?

In this article I will share with you some powerful tips that can be used to make your CV clear and impactful and make sure that the recruiter can find the information that is crucial in a short time.

The first and important tip will be to make sure that your CV really tells your whole story and that a recruiter can find everything they need by just looking at the CV. This will be the eligibility for the role that you are applying for, any related experiences you have, technical skills and projects, any extracurricular activities and impacts. Things like competition or societies that you are a part of and anything else that is crucial to your story and to making you YOU!

In most cases a recruiter might only spend a few seconds on the first scan to make sure you are eligible for the role.

There are many different structures out there to organize your CV and you can utilize whichever format that you are most comfortable in depending on what you would like to highlight. This structure I mention below will help recruiters find the most relevant information to determine your eligibility for the internship.

Structure

  1. Education
  2. Work experience
  3. Projects
  4. Activities/Leadership
  5. Honors/Awards

Education

Education Example

In the example above, you will notice that the expected graduation includes the month and the year. Not everyone includes that on the CV, but it very important as this is what is going to help the reviewer decipher which internship you are eligible for. In the next part while including all of your courses is completely not necessary, that takes up a lot of space, but it is advisable that you list data structures and algorithms which will be needed to pass your technical interview. There are few times when maybe listing a course is a strong idea. If you are a non-computer science major but you want to demonstrate knowledge in CS then include it. Or if you specialized in a particular area, add that too.

You can see that the technical skills are listed in number of years of experience using each language. How you demonstrate your level of proficiency can vary. Some people might put years of experience, some might write proficient or beginning. Whatever you choose is fine but make sure that the most proficient is at the start of the list. It is very important to include examples of how you gain the skills and the use of languages. The main languages tested in most technical interviews will be java, python, C++ and go.

Work Experience

First and second year students often get confused on what to put on the CV if they don’t have work experience yet. I bet if you don’t have a job you have lots of examples of where you used your technical skills to solve a problem. You can call it experience rather than work experience. You should always list your experience in reverse chronological order ad put your most relevant experience. If you need to save space, only highlight the relevant accomplishments and try to avoid long descriptions. Always include your employer, positions you held and dates you were employed for and use bullet points to keep it concise. The different experience you can include would include internships, academic research, open source experience, student groups, mobile and app development and coding competitions.

The MOST EFFECTIVE advice always given to students writing their CV is to focus on the impact. The formula of implementing this is as follows:

“Accomplished [X], as measured by [Y], by doing [Z].”

Accomplished X. This is where you start each bullet with a agency verb like debugged, designed or created. As measured by Y. You can include any metric that shows the impact that you had. So something like increased query response time by 15%. By doing Z. This is what you specifically did to achieve the results. For example, by restructuring the API. This is the right place to let the recruiter know which language and technologies you used.

Lets look at the formula in action. Note how the person has listed the technology they used in bold. This makes it easy for the reviewer to pick out. In this case we can clearly see what this person did. They have highlighted the impact. “300 plus downloads and a rating of 4”. These are good metrics to include.

Projects Example

In the picture below we have an example of a work experience. This one looks okay but we can still improve it using the X,Y,Z formula.

Work Experience example

After making a few changes, this is how it looks now. It is now easier to pick out how the person demonstrated the technical skills. There is a few clear examples of the impact and the skills used. Python is in bold and you can see the metrics which will be very helpful. You know how this person used technology along the way. Internship was changed to Software Engineering intern. It is wise to make it explicit and clear for the reviewer to see the experience.

Extra Curricular Activities

In the extracurricular section of your CV, you have a chance to show the reader what makes you YOU. Here you can write about all the other activities and interests you have. Here are some examples of what you could include for your extracurricular section. The recruiters are curious to know how you spend your time outside of classroom. I you are part of a society, especially if you are in a leadership position definitely include that. If you are part of national or international groups or competitions like code jam or hash code. Maybe you do hackathons in your spare time. What is important is put your placement there like Did you win? How many competitors were there? Give metrics to give a bit of color. Other items, perhaps you could be a teaching assistant for a course. You could be a research assistant for a professor at your university. Maybe you are building your technical skills through open source projects. Perhaps you are a graduate of a development program like Google’s code view, get ahead or inside look. Have you taken any online courses for other interests that you have? Maybe supplementing the courses you do at university. It does not all have to be tech related. Perhaps you are passionate about a sport or hobby. Do you take part in competitions to do with those? The recruiters want to know what excites you. Take this opportunity in this section to let the recruiters know.

Other Accomplishments

Here is an example of what your extracurricular section could look like on a real CV. What is most noticeable about this one is the person demonstrated leadership on campus. They created this data science community and what is great about this section is that they really demonstrated problem solving and strategic thinking. They have grown the club from 50 to 300 members which is really impressive from the recruiter’s point of view. They mentioned being part of the math olympiad. They added metrics in that they stated how many people participated in it. They talked about the teaching assistance role and how many students they impacted. This is a great example of the extracurricular part of the CV.

Example of extra curricular activities

Final Tips

These are some final tips i would like you to remember.

You want to make sure all the most pertinent role related information is clearly noted on your CV.

You should always use a PDF format for your CV to keep it clean, consistent and bullet pointed. Avoid large bodies of text where you can.

Make sure you have the correct and updated contact information there for the recruiters to easily get in contact with you. Writing references upon request is fine. Recruiters can get in touch with you if they need references. You can decide to do this in order to save space and include other impactful information.

Don’t forget to use the magic formula. You want to start each bullet point with an action verb like created, designed, improved and include metrics to highlight the impact you had on each experience.

Hope you gained a lot of useful tips. Good luck!!