Though many large tech employers now use online application forms when hiring new recruits, you may still be required to upload a CV as part of the hiring process. Smaller employers will often require CVs as well, so don’t neglect the importance of a good technical CV in catching recruiters’ attention.
It takes skill to put together a strong technical CV that will appeal to IT recruiters, but the key is to keep it well-structured and focused on relevant details. Here are some tips to help you out with yours.
Customise your CV
You should always customise your CV specifically for each job you apply for. Avoid spamming recruiters with a generic one-size-fits-all document. A good technical CV showcases your relevance for the job in clear and concise terms.
Tech jobs are very competitive, and the reality is that recruiters will only look at yours for as little as 30 seconds before coming to a decision. You must catch their attention by providing details and evidence that you fit their hiring requirements and demonstrate your suitability for the position.
You should include the following sections in your technical CV:
- Personal information
- Relevant technical skills and abilities
- Educational background and any degree modules relevant to the position.
- Relevant past projects, work experience, and general skills.
- Any relevant extracurricular activities, interests, and/or certifications.
Your CV should be no more than two pages long. List your points in reverse chronological order – starting with most recent experiences first, and then working your way backwards from there.
You are free to choose the order in which you put your sections and how you want to title them. However, try to place the sections that best demonstrate you have the ability to perform the job you are applying for in eye-catching positions, and allocate the most space for those sections. For instance, if a job requires good customer-facing skills, don’t hide your internship working at an IT helpdesk on the second page!
Focus on relevant technical skills
You don’t need give an exhaustive list of all of your technical skills. Focus on the ones that the employer and the role requires and don't include anything that isn’t relevant or might be outdated.
Try to organise your technical skills in categories to make it easier for recruiters to see the range and types of skills you have at a glance. Feel free to arrange your skills in the way that you feel will best showcase them.
Describe your technical expertise
It isn’t enough to just list your technical skills. Use the past experiences sections to describe how you put those skills into practice, and to give recruiters an understanding of your level of expertise.
For each piece of experience you list, include a brief description of your responsibilities and achievements. Keep the focus specifically on your own actions, as opposed to talking in general terms about what your team or peers did.
You can give examples from projects that you worked on in university, at work, or even on a personal basis. What matters is that they give practical examples of your technical skills at work, as well as showcase an ongoing interest or passion for working with technology.
Not all computer science and technical degrees have the same course content, so it may also be useful to briefly describe the modules and projects you have completed under the educational background section - especially if they are applicable to the position.
If you’ve obtained any additional computing or technological credentials, describe them briefly as well so recruiters get a better idea of what they’re all about.
Don’t neglect your soft skills
Technical skills aren’t the only thing that recruiters look out for! Many tech employers place similar value on soft skills too. Some of the common soft skills that tech recruiters look out for are:
- Good communication skills
- Teamwork skills
- Good time management
- Adaptability and being a quick learner
- Creative thinking and problem-solving skills
Don’t forget to describe moments where your soft skills were applied in your past experiences. For instance, give examples where you had to learn new skills, work together with a team in order to achieve a goal, or overcame a tough problem as a group.
Talk about personal interests
People often treat the personal interests section on their CVs as an afterthought, but this is where you can further showcase your technical and soft skills to potential employers.
What you do in your free time can tell recruiters a lot about you. So don’t be afraid to include any clubs, groups, or events that show how you’ve developed your skills or demonstrate that you have a genuine interest in tech.
CVs that list activities like hackathons, code jams, and tech meet-ups tend to get the attention of recruiters. If you’ve held positions of responsibility in student clubs or societies (even if they’re non-tech related), those are good evidence of your soft skills at work as well. If you’ve taken online courses, feel free to highlight the more interesting ones as well.
These details might seem petty for some, but to recruiters, it is contextual information about what you do in your spare time.
Make sure you thoroughly double check your CV before sending it to potential employers, just like how you would check code before deploying it! Pay special attention to these:
- Your grammar and spelling.
- Making sure your writing is easily understandable.
- You’ve provided all the details that the employers are looking for.
- You didn't leave the name of another company on your CV.
If possible, try to have your CV “peer-reviewed” too. Get a friend or family member with good attention to detail to cast a second set of eyes on it. They might spot some errors you may have missed.