How to Write a CV That Sets You Apart

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Getting your CV to the top of a pile is by no means an easy feat. You need to know how to write a CV that sets you apart. It’s our first point of contact with you. You kind of need to impress us, give us enough to go on so that we can better understand your career goals and help you achieve them. Think of it this way, you go to a party, you don’t know anyone and you end up meeting maybe 20 or 30 people in one night. Who’s going to stand out? Chatty Kathy or introvert Ian? Of course, you can’t be good at everything, that’s exactly why we are here to help! Think of this as CV writing 101 for the tech industry and developers.

Tailor Your CV to Your Skills

At e-Merge there are quite a few different things we look for in a CV depending on the kind of job you are applying for. There’s no one size fits all approach which will get the CV of a developer, a quantitative analyst or a project manager noticed. For example; developers want to emphasise technologies and tools which they are familiar with, project managers want to list successful projects they have completed and quantitative analysts will need to mention their degree and their domain experience. Play to your strengths, emphasise all the attributes which make you a great candidate and tell us what your skills are.

Don’t Forget the Basics

While you do need to think carefully about what it is that you want from your career, you also need to remember that your recruiter and potential employer are looking for a well rounded human being. You cannot only code, give us more detail. Elaborate on your skills, education, experience and achievements. Each of these factors are unique to you and your industry, and if you don’t list them we don’t know that you have them. In fact, if you don’t tell us about it, we assume you don’t have the skills, education, experience and achievements that we are looking for. A lot of these things will form the most basic requirements of the job spec so don’t leave anything out.

All the Detail

A lot of websites will tell you explicitly that you need to keep your CV as short as possible. That’s not what we look for at e-Merge though. The more you can say about your previous jobs, your skills and your education the better. Obviously, if you waffle aimlessly, repeat yourself and tell us about the day you were born, we will get a bit bored, but the details about your career are important to us. Explain to us what you liked about your previous positions, what you learnt, why you left and what your duties were. This information helps us get a more holistic view of you as a person and what makes you tick so that we can work on getting the right fit for you. This is also the detail which will help us better understand the path you want your career to take.

Prove it

You will always hear stories from people who struggle to be objective about their achievements. That’s why we need you to prove your achievements. It’s no good just saying that you delivered on a great project. Tell us exactly which technologies, tools and methods you used. Expand further to tell us what your budgets were, what your challenges were, how you overcame them and what impact your work had on the bottom line. This impresses us. Telling us about your career achievements are the best tool in your arsenal to further your career growth.

Industry Related Experience

As you progress in your career and as the industry has expanded, you will find that the jobs you apply for are becoming more and more industry specific. Potential employers are more likely than ever to be looking specifically for developers with experience in the niche sectors. Tell us all about your niche and the skills you have owing to this specialisation. Having seven years of experience in the fintech industry is nothing to be sniffed at and it makes you highly marketable to similar companies.

Part-Time Interests

We aren’t talking about your love of birdwatching; we want to know what you are doing in your downtime to grow your career and skills. Do you go home and code? Do you contribute to GitHub? Did you build your own app just to see if you could? Tell us. Just because you don’t specifically have formal working experience on your CV, doesn’t mean you aren’t eligible for the job. Give us a detailed description of your part-time projects; demonstrate your passion and enthusiasm. If you are passionate, have the capacity and are willing to upskill, that’s a big pro in the eyes of a potential employer. If you aren’t willing to learn and grow you may lose your foothold eventually.

Some Important Fluff

Some of the best information we are able to get from candidates is the more subjective stuff. This information helps us gauge your personality and ultimately helps us find a better work culture fit for you. We want to know; more than your skills, what areas are you strongest in? What work achievements you are most proud of and why? What areas do you most want to work in? If your strengths and aspirations don’t match up with that of your potential employer there’s just no point in pursuing a career in their company.

Seven Common Sense CV Mistakes to Avoid

Some of these things are pretty obvious to us but just in case they aren’t obvious to you, here are a few must nots.

Gaps – long extended periods of time which you can’t account for aren’t ideal. Explain them to us and don’t leave anything out. A lot of developers prefer to take work on a contractual basis, don’t discount contractual work, tell us about it!

Lame fonts – seriously guys, if your CV isn’t easy to read it really makes our job more difficult. You don’t have to be a designer to know that Comic Sans and script style fonts aren’t a thing. Stop trying to make them a thing.

Out of date – sending a six-year-old CV is really unhelpful to us. Give us all the fresh new info that you possibly can. The tech and dev industry stands still for no man and what was relevant six years ago is a lot less relevant now.

Omitting your contact details – we need to be able to get hold of you if we think you could be a good fit for a position. Don’t miss an opportunity due to a small, silly mistake.

Spelling mistakes – we really do understand that English is not everyone’s first language, even if it is your first language, we all make mistakes but dammit; use spell check. The problem is really bad though when you cannot spell the names of the technologies and tools which you claim to be familiar with. Remember your attention to detail will be scrutinised. If you’re a developer can you code if you can’t pick up basic spelling errors in your CV?

Jargon – buzzwords and jargon just induce sighs and eye-rolling. Words and sayings that are potentially unclear in their meaning just seem pretentious to those who may be unfamiliar with them. The actionable items aren’t baked into the ideation process. Urg. Just don’t.

So there you have it – that’s the low down on writing a great CV for the tech and dev industry. It can be a pretty gruelling process if you haven’t done it in a while. In the end, the hard work and effort make all the difference when you get that call, employers take you seriously, you go to that interview and get that offer that you’ve been dreaming of. Professionals in the tech and dev world don’t have it easy, but that’s what you love about it, so let your true worth shine through at every opportunity and write a CV that sets you apart.


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