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CV Tips for Software Developers? 88

drylight asks: "When writing a CV, what do people find to be an effective format that gets possible employer's attention and/or the desired job? Is Keeping things short, preferable or will two or more pages be acceptable? Is a complete work history desired, or would a list of applications and projects that you've been involved in a better idea? Any links to online examples of good CVs would be greatly appreciated. What are some other tips on how to get someone's attention when applying for a job?"
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CV Tips for Software Developers?

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  • First of all, my qualifications- between October 2001 and December 2003, I spent 26 months out of work. I got a LOT of experience writing resumes, CVs, and filling out job applications in that time. Here are my statistics:

    2600 total job applications filed.
    1475- 2 page resumes tuned to the job description in the advert, with cover letter.
    200 1-page resumes tuned to the job description in the advert, with cover letter.
    845 general purpose 6-page resumes with all experience and skills on them (3 pages worth of skillsets + 10 years of experience)
    80 applications for fast food jobs.

    Out of that, I recieved 15 interviews and one job offer- all on either the applications for fast food jobs, or on the 2 page resumes.

    And now for the joke- decide now, do you want an exciting career or stability? And a hint if you decide on stability- student loans within the last 20 years in your credit report mean that you are no longer qualified to be a fry cook.
    • It would seem that your misfortunes stem from the fact that you are a "Marxist Hacker 42" and a supporter of free software. I have personally made sure that you cannot find any job not only in the US but also in India, Sweden, Afghanistan, and Bahrain as well.

      Billy Gates
    • Resumes are crap, as you found out during your 2-year trial by fire:
      • They do not convey to a potential employer how you could solve his/her problems
      • They do not adequately convey who you are and what you can do
      • "Past experience is no guarantee of future performance"
      • Dead trees can't answer complex questions

      Just taking your example: 2,520 resumes = 1 job. That's a .03% (NOT 3%) success rate. I think I'd much rather spend my time using other techniques.

      • I sent out a fair number of resumes myself (I would guess several hundred) over the past three years, but most of the success I had in getting interviews came from a different source: the copies of my resume that I had posted on various internet job sites.

        I still think that actively applying to various positions is better than not sending out resumes at all, since exposure is everything if you're trying to attract attention to yourself, but my own experience that doesn't result in very many positive respon
        • I can agree with this. I've had more success on recruiters contacting me than I have actually sending in resumes.

          Now, I've also started collecting resume's from friends for a new startup and I've found more interest in a 2 page resume that highlights your strong points then just lists your education and past job history. It makes anyone viewing the resume curious.

          The biggest issue of applying to any major company is that the resumes generally are not looked at by a human at first. They are data mined to g
      • Resumes are pretty worthless, but you should still have one, because even when you're brought in a place where you know everyone and the job may be a "lock," people still want to see what you've done.

        When hiring, I find the *cover letter* is vastly more important than the resume. A personally written cover letter that quickly describes skills and experience (and attitude) that are applicable will get you an interview way faster than a "dear recruiter:" form letter.

    • ...but if you're sending out that many resumes with such bad results, I have to suspect you're doing something wrong. Have you ever had somebody review your resume for you? People are not objective about their own writing.
      • Many times. Every time came out different- but the key among all of them was limiting to the two pages. There WAS one other major impact with that resume experience however- check out the DATES when I was unemployed. Right smack dab in the middle of the recession, and only a Bachelor's degree at a time when most Master's and above were unemployed.
    • Out of that, I recieved 15 interviews and one job offer- all on either the applications for fast food jobs, or on the 2 page resumes.

      In the UK almost everyone seems to say that a CV (UK terminology for resume) shouldn't be over two pages, and I was surprised to find that in Belgium anything over one page is deemed excessive for most people.

      Of course, I took the advice I had received to heart, and tried to cram as much as possible into a two page document - this was used with little effect for the

    • True you are over qualified as a fry cook, but that isn't the only fast food job around. They need managers too. Truth is if I had stuck with fast food as a career, instead of gone to college, I would be making more money today, 7 years after I graduated with a CS degree! Sometimes I'm tempted to go back, I still have contacts there, and there is one fringe benefit over computer jobs: not only do you work with beautiful girls, but they have to talk to you! (They are often too young to date, but at le

      • And, of course, if you live in Portland, OR, to be a manager of a fast food restaurant (circa 2001-2003 anyway):

        Must speak spanish- so that you can talk to all the illegal immigrants in the kitchen (the counter, of course, has English speakers, but the kitchen help is all Mexican).

        Must not have any college background in credit check- skill means that you might leave if you find a job within what you really wanted to do, and so the company is not willing to train you to be a manager.

    • That's a terrible conversion rate, I've been seriously looking for a new job for two years (only the last two months of which was I unemployed). I sent about 10x 2 page CVs roughly customised for the jobs, and mostly with cover letters. I have had 3 interviews (one of which was over the telephone) and am currently waiting to hear about the others. For the ones I have expected to hear something, I have converted 5 applications into 3 interviews, and 3 interviews into 0 jobs. That's a 60% application -> in
    • My eyeballs hurt after looking at your web page, OWWWWWW!!! So many animated gifs and blue everywhere!
    • statistics of woe snipped

      Not to be rude, but if your resume resembles either of the web pages listed in your header ( or than I'm not surprised you had such a poor search. The latter site is at least readable, not something I could say for the former. My completly unsolicited advice, take it or leave it as you wish, get yourself to the local community college that offers career building courses and get your CV checked out by somebody with an objective view.

  • by DamienMcKenna ( 181101 ) <> on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:00PM (#11365282)
    Focus on the achievements you've made, not strictly the tools used. For example, don't tell them that you wrote a 1000 line perl script using bazillions of modules, rather tell them that you fixed a problem the company had for years which boosted sales/productivity/profits using a perl script you wrote. You can be trained in tools, life experience and achievements are what set you apart from other people.

    • If you don't know the specific environments and tools that they're using, they aren't interested.

      I found that a resume that didn't at least mention a list of tools obtained very few responses, and some of the best interviews I had were the result of a specific language or software package I had listed on my resume.
      • Wow, your signature brought back some memories. I used to work on Unisys mainframes (1100/60 and 2200/400), and I remember the @FIN, $$CLOSE statements (end a job, and close the terminal, I believe).

        I have those on my resume, even though it's been a while since I've used them. I'm not sure it will do any good, but it may show that I'm somewhat experienced, at least.

  • by Fr05t ( 69968 )
    1)Build CV in html
    2)use lots of tags
    3) ????
    4 Job!

    **Note blink tags do not work when CV is printed on paper.
    • by otuz ( 85014 )
      Do NOT use <BLINK> -tags, instead use CSS:

      <style type="text/css"> .blink {text-decoration:blink}

      <h1 class=blink>Blinking!</h1>

      • But if I do that then you can turn off my 1337 blinking by simply overriding my CSS file with your own. Noooooooooo!
        • by otuz ( 85014 )
          You can (theoretically) do that also by overriding the blink-tag with css:

          blink {text-decoration:none}
    • Actually, I used to have my CV as HTML. Then I had a makefile that run's "lynx -dump" on it (with a few more switches) and then I'd usually send both the HTML and the "plain text" version if no specific requirements were given.

      Whether this was good or bad for getting a job, I don't know. But what I do know is that there always was a strong correlation between the preferred document format and the job function. Almost every time any technical people would have the plain text versions printed, while any non

  • Be creative (Score:3, Funny)

    by RealityMogul ( 663835 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:02PM (#11365329)
    1.) Popup books - everybody loves them

    The first page can be a little cutout of you in a suit and tie with a smile on your face. Then another with you hunched over a keyboard with the moon in the background. Make a little tab that causes your arms to pound on a keyboard.

    2.) Lifelike puppet - CEOs love these.

    Fully posable so they can imagine how well you'll dance at their command.

    3.) Lie like a dog

    Going for an entry level coder position? Make sure you meet the requirement in the job ad. Like having an MBA, 10 years risk analysis experience, and another decade of experience in all the latest programming languages/frameworks. Say you have all that and you'll surely land that $20,000/yr job tweaking the color scheme on their website!
  • by dougmc ( 70836 )
    What's a CV? Sounds like a resume, but context suggests it's somewhat different ...
    • CV stands for Curriculum Vitae. It's a format for people in professional and academic fields. It also serves as a good vehicle for additional information should an employer wish to see your full range of skills. For example, a 2-page resume with a reference to see your CV on your website for more information is a good idea.
    • CV is shorthand for Certificate Vital, or list of vital information that can be certified.

      It is far more common in the legal and education fields where in addition to listing where you have worked, and what your specific tasks were, you also list papers and projects you authored were a part of. These papers and projects are often vetted in some way before publication or finalization, which means that their authenticity, proovability, and your efforts in those papers and projects are well documented, and ar
    • Re:CV? (Score:3, Informative)

      by DLWormwood ( 154934 )
      Sounds like a resume...

      For the most part, it is... CV is the abbreviation for the latin phrase curricula vitae. The term is more commonly used in Europe (especially the UK), rather than the more pedestrian (and French) sounding resumé.

      • Re:CV? (Score:2, Informative)

        by nicolas.e ( 715954 )
        In fact, in France, we use the term "CV" and not résumé.
      • CV is the abbreviation for the latin phrase curricula vitae

        My mother (a professional careers advisor for many years) would despair. Twice in one subthread, people have not just spelt curriculum vitae incorrectly, but actually used the wrong words. Do be sure to get this right if you ever actually write one!

    • For a nice example see here jpg []
  • Yes, read the minds of potential employers. It's great for interviews too. Anything else is just a shot in the dark.
  • one advice (Score:3, Informative)

    by BinLadenMyHero ( 688544 ) < minus math_god> on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:09PM (#11365426) Journal
    Poor writing is bad for your image. Learn how to place the commas:

    "Is Keeping things short preferable, or will two or more pages be acceptable?"
    • Actually, I would start with spelling first. In a recent batch of "resumes" I had to review one candidate had misspelled "education". Hmm, yeah, educated indeed!
    • "one advice"? In a post about grammar? Genius.
    • by Chemisor ( 97276 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @04:13PM (#11366241)
      What programmer can resist overoptimization? Here it goes:

      > Is Keeping things short preferable, or will two or more pages be acceptable?

      The most obvious error is the extra capitalization of Keeping. After fixing that simple bug:

      > Is keeping things short preferable, or will two or more pages be acceptable?

      Know your API. The english language has a wonderful word for "two or more" that ensures you don't have too many "or"s. This also removes the need for a comma:

      > Is keeping things short preferable or will several pages be acceptable?

      Making it obvious that the advice is for "you" saves the reader a few brain cycles:

      > Should I keep things short or in several pages?

      If the first part is true, then the second part is necessarily false. This useful fact allows further contraction and removes a syntax ambiguity between "things" and "pages" that helps brain compiler writers keep their parser simple:

      > Should I keep things short?

      If you keep "things" short, some people may want to reuse the question for other "things":

      > Should things be short?

      There. Only 23 characters instead of the original 76. This 70% reduction in size will save brain space and processing power that could be used to write another resume.
  • by HRbnjR ( 12398 )

    Not knowing exactly what skills particular employers are looking for, I have always had trouble finding a good size balance. So now I use both! []

    I use html title attributes you can click on for detail about a particular project I have done, or skill category. All the information is included in the single emailable html document. You can also print it out, though that will lose the popups, hence the encouragement at the start for people to view the online

    • Re:Both (Score:4, Informative)

      by GeckoX ( 259575 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @03:23PM (#11365601)
      Know what happens with your resume when it's submitted digitally? A HR person prints off a bunch of copies. One's usually stored in permament records, the others passed out to those doing the hiring. Chance of someone that matters ever seeing it in a digital format? Fat.

      The paperless office is a myth, and the paperless hiring process is just pure fantasy.
      • Re:Both (Score:3, Informative)

        by HRbnjR ( 12398 )
        I agree, printing is to be expected, and is just fine by me. In that case, you still get the standard one page version you would have had with a conventional approach. This is purely an *augmentation* for if you do view it in a browser.

        If I make it past the first screening, to the point where they are thinking about calling for an interview - they can slap my URL from the top of the page into their browser and find out all about me if they want. Will they? Who knows. My current employer did though, an
  • by Anonymous Coward
    We hired people from all walks of life but anyone who had a letter of recommendation from a prior work got a job (even with less technical expertise).

    Come to think of it the ones who smiled the most and expressed their limits got jobs. Some who said they were experts in everything weren't called back.

  • In general it all depends on where you apply. Different companies will have a different focus and preference. It also changes a lot from country to country.

    I applied for and found jobs in Austria, Australia and Canada. I have a base resume (short version) and a detailed curriculum vitae (long version). Normally I submit a custom tailored version of the resume with the stuff that is interesting for the employer and a custom made letter accompnaying the resume.

    This gets the attention. In the letter I me

  • I've posted some fairly lengthy comments on this subject on Slashdot before; go ahead and search my old posts if you want.

    Here are a few quick tips for now:

    • A CV/resume is a taster to get you past the machines/HR drones and into the interview stage with people who matter. It should give a summary of your skills and abilities, and provide plenty of food for thought so they want to discuss the details with you later.
    • Make it easily scannable. It may go into a database, so make sure you use the standard
  • by fm6 ( 162816 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @04:34PM (#11366513) Homepage Journal
    Most of Slashdot's readers have never heard of the Curriculum Vitae. In the U.S., it's usually called a Resume. Slashdot editors really need to pay more attention to the "WTF is a ..." factor.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Looking for a job is a full time job. Once you find a job, applying for that job is a full time job for a week, or at max 2 weeks.

    You can get the job if:
    a) you're enthusiastic,
    b) it's the right job for you,
    c) you're the right person for the job.

    If any of these aren't satisfied, you're wasting your time. All your questions are irrelevant, once you figure out a, b & c. Looking for a job is to satisy b, then while applying for it is to tell the employer that c is satisfied.

    Some specifics that helped m
    • This is all good advice, but people use email a lot now. I don't think we've even gotten a paper resume except with an artist portfolio in at least a year. Certainly not for a programmer position.

      Also, I don't think hiring managers look down on yahoo, gmail, or hotmail accounts -- most people maintain those especially for resumes, or to have an address that will always work. As long as it isn't "" or "", a free email address is probably no big deal.

  • Strange, but I've found that I can rework someone else's CV to look much better, but I can't do it with my own.

    For your specific questions, as a manager I'd usually expect a 2-3 page CV. Educational history needs to be in there, but the more important stuff varies with the type of job. If I'm hiring a programmer, I'm interested in specific technical skills (10 years .NOT etc.) more than what the skills have been used for.

    If I'm hiring for a fuzzier job, e.g. project manager, I'm looking for explanations

  • As this article [] describes, resumes are largely useless. You're better off networking and trying to trick your way into speaking to an actual technical manager than worrying much about your resume -- beyond the obvious points of keeping it as targeted and brief as possible.
  • by crazyphilman ( 609923 ) on Friday January 14, 2005 @09:45PM (#11370201) Journal
    First of all, I always use high-quality paper, like for example parchment made from dried human skin. I find that if you dry it with some violets, it has a nice fragrance, which H.R. droids really seem to appreciate.

    Next up, when writing your resume, do NOT let the blood coagulate. One time, I only got halfway through the experience section when I found my pen gumming up! So, it's a good idea to wet your pen by jamming it in your NEXT victim while he's still alive. This also tends to lighten the mood a little; resumes are pretty stressful to write.

    Once you're writing, it helps to throw in some playful alternative spellings like "CompUUTre" and "Jaaahhhva". It'll throw the recruiting H.R. person off balance slightly, and make them wonder about your state of mind. Excellent motivator! Remember, you want to put your best foot forward. Sometimes I put in a chart with a jagged line rising up and to the right; the y axis is marked "My foot" and the x axis is marked "your ass", after a charming video on the Red Vs. Blue site. That Sarge is such a card! I think he would agree that this is a good motivator for H.R.

    Finally, make sure to include as much mayhem in your experience section as possible. If you've got entries involving going postal in a large organization, include them! High body counts are a plus, particularly if you started in the H.R. office.

    Ah, I remember when I was young, and interviewing... I visited five companies, two of which still existed afterwards! Sigh. Oh, to be young again...

  • As a bit of a side note, you can write your resume/CV in XML using the XML Resume Project [] and then easily generate PDF, HTML, or plain text from a single source document. You can even tag elements with keywords and then automatically generate targeted resumes for different audiences.

    (Note: I'm a developer on the project.)


  • Hear me out.

    A resume or a CV is just one of many tools you'll employ in getting a job. It serves one and only one purpose, at least in American business: to get the attention of the hiring manager. Resumes won't get you jobs. If you're lucky, though, they'll get you interviews. And that's the goal at this stage.

    To that end, it should be truthful, "impactful", and readable. It should say enough to convince the reader that you might be worth talking to. It shouldn't overwhelm them, and it needs to bot
    • Dead right - a good CV gets you an interview, not a job. I know it sounds obvious, but make sure it's spelt correctly (or spelled if you're from the US I guess) uses correct grammar and is "readable" - not just a list of bullet points or a "stream of conciousness". Although I haven't written one for many years (too lazy to change jobs) I've read through plenty of other people's and know exactly what will get canned after the first read. Keep it simple, and make it read like it was written by a human. It
  • Any links to online examples of good CVs would be greatly appreciated.

    Ok, I'll bite. Here's mine: HTML primary version [] or PDF edition [].

    I get unsolicited mail from people impressed by it, and asking if they can use the same format. Feel free (I retain all rights to the text, of course).

    I also just got a new job, so I'm doing something right (although it could be despite the CV, heh).

    My CV guidelines:

    • Fixed size of four pages.
    • Use clear English in text passages.
    • Use a clean, professional format that
    • I don't really like with the style you use, but I loved this line:

      I play a strategic, Internet-based multiplayer team game, Team Fortress (TF)


      I also noticed that despite claiming your education doesn't matter at your stage in your career, you still managed to mention which university you went to in passing...

  • Would anybody happen to have a good Latex Stylesheet for a CV?

    I'm using an old MS Word version that has been modified a gazzilion times and things are really getting messy.


  • 1) One page for job history
    2) One page for certifications
    3) ...
    4) Profit!!!
  • The answer to this depends on where you are in your career, and what kind of qualifications that you have.

    If you're coming straight out of school with a relatively vanilla degree (math, CS, etc) you should be able to do one page. Talk about your coursework and skills, but emphasize any research or work experience. You're trying to stand out from a stack of similarly vanilla right-out-of-school resumes. The goal of the resume isn't to get you the job - it is to convince someone that it is worth his or
  • I use Yahoo! Hotjobs for my CV. And although I would be found in searches quite, usually I wouldn't get employer views.

    Then I saw some stupid deal that HotJobs had with a proffesional CV writers,, and looked at the example work they had. I didn't pay them, just looked at their samples.

    And just by moving my Award section - I only ever got one - and my publications section - only a mention in Wired Online and ACM Queue - to the top of the page I got a job offer the next day.

    I have a nice job

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.