Date Posted: Nov 22, 2020
On Thursday, we ran a CV Workshop with Careers Network. Ruth Smaller, CS Careers Advisor presented a session based on tailoring CVs and expanding portfolios with the aim to secure jobs within the tech industry. A total of 26 people joined the workshop live, but the recording is now available to watch back if you weren’t able to attend.
Link: Presentation Slides
During the hour, Ruth discussed what makes CVs different in tech, highlighting what it should look like and the dos and don’ts of CV writing.
What is a CV for?
As you may expect, a CV is a document which comes in useful, not just when applying for jobs, but also when making speculative applications of interest. CVs may also come in useful when attending (physical) careers fairs, where you can hand them out to prospective employers.
What goes on a CV?
For a job in the tech industry a CV should naturally focus on your technical skills and abilities. It should list your strengths in areas such as programming and technical theory. You can list programmig languages such as Java and Python; tools like Git; or whole systems like Kubernetes or Active Directory. Professional qualifications are also perfect examples of demonstrating your capabilities.
CVs are all about the evidence you can provide. Any projects you have participated in are perfect examples to show a recruiter that you have the required skills and experience to do a job. You can list anything from personal side-projects you are passionate about, to the Team Project module. Even hackathon projects could show off your skills.
Tailoring your CV is also a very important aspect to being noticed by a recruiter. Ideally, you should tailor your CV for each individual role you apply for. It may seem over the top, but it ensures the best chances that you don’t get thrown into the reject pile straigt away. Recruiters often have hundreds, if not thousands, of CVs to read through before inviting you to an interview. Someone may only spend a few seconds on your CV, so you really want to draw their attention.
When an employer posts a job listing, they often specify what type of person or skills they are looking for. Most companies have a wealth of information available online about what type of company they are, or what type of people they employ. There is no excuse to not make those vital seconds count by inclusing information that is relevant to the role you want.
The words you use are also very important. The tone of your CV must be persuasive and postive for the reader. Words such as ‘but’ can sound negative and contradictory. You should also adopt an active tone, since it shows that you’re actively engaged in the activities you talk about. You should also avoid overly technical jargon and acronyms that the person reading may not understand. Even abbreviations of module names (e.g. “06-30175 DSA”) you may use day-to-day may not be relevant for the recruiter. Stick simply using “Data Structures and Algorithms”.
What makes a bad CV?
A multitude of different things can make a CV sub-par. During the workshop, we critiqued these two examples. These CVs shouldn’t be followed as best examples.
File: Example 1
Some of the points made included:
- Contact details take up too much space
- Multiple addresses
- Unprofessional email address
- Multiple typos. e.g. “20013” in Education year
- Projects not in bullet points
- No elaboration or evidence of commitment in hobbies and interests
- References not necessary to put down
File: Example 2
Some of the points made included:
- Contact details brief and concise
- Lines are useful to clearly separate sections
- Work experience and projects listed together, and evidence their skills
- Interests evidence commitment to the hobby
- Condensed and neatly presented on one page
Adding to your CV
At an earlier stage of your career, many recruiters may not expect you to have much industry expereince, if any at all. This is why it’s so important to work on projects which you can show off to prove that you have the right skills for the job.
Competitions and hackathons are creative marathons where you have a set time period to invent and create a project. They are often run by companies who are looking for individuals to recruit. Student hackathons are also a great opportunity to create projects, where you have more freedom to make anything you want. Organisations like MLH (Major League Hacking) partner with and support many hackathons like this around the world, and you can find a list of upcoming events here.
You can also create your own experiences. Take part in opportunities available to you. For example, you can help us (CSS) to run events. Our DSC group is a good way to run your own workshops, which can improve not only your technical skills, but also your soft skills like public speaking and communication. Why not work on your own software as well? If you like playing games, then you can create your own video games. Other societies within the School, like Games Development Society, are perfect for this. Look our for their Game Jams.
You can also take up internships. It goes without saying that taking on a summer or 12 month placement can really help to boost your CV when applying to a graduate role.
Getting more help
Use the Careers Network’s CV Checker. Upload your CV and get an automated rating and suggestions for improvement.
Alternatively, you can email your CV for a manual review, or ask questions, to email@example.com.
I hope that you found this write-up of the CV Workshop useful, but this is only a snapshot of the information that Ruth presented. I encourage you to watch the whole video if you weren’t able to attend the session live.
If you have any feedback for the event or have any suggestions for the future, then please get in touch.
Thank you for reading
- Likkan C, Industrial Liaison