CV's: How Do You Write Yours?


(Heather) #1

Between all the software testing Slack groups and other online communities, I’m a member of, not a day goes by that I don’t see some variation of:

I need some help putting my CV together, can someone give me a sample CV or suggestions of what I should put on a CV?

There can be many reasons why someone might ask this. Some may just want to update it as they’ve been on a lot of software testing related training courses recently. Others might be on the hunt for a new job and their CV is the sales pitch.

For me, it was because I had a very heavy science background and landed into testing while in the same company that I had been hired for my science background. I had no idea what a testers CV should look like and it was very different to my science one.

Today a recruiter friend (you know they aren’t all evil, there’s good ones who post really useful content) posted this:
https://evilrecruiter.com/cv-advice/

Which reminded me of an idea I had quite a while ago. Could we crowdsource a sample Software Tester (or QA if you prefer that term) CV?

Are there particular areas you’ve seen mighty fine examples in e.g. did someone do a great job of explaining their skills briefly and accurately?

Have you examples of how to word “I’ve played around with automation and it’s seemed pretty successful so far”?

What skills do you think are relevant to put on a CV? More specifically what are the software testing skills and the more generic (or non-testing related) skills that make a good testers CV shine?

If we get enough replies, I will convert it to a PDF and upload it to the thread for everyone to share should they come across this question.


(Rose) #2

I’m the recruiter mentioned in this article. Here’s a point or two that are a little more testing specific based on the recruitment I’ve been doing lately. This is mostly coming from a place of “this would make it easier for me to recognise your skills as relevant to the job spec my client sent me”

Do be precise about the types of testing you have carried out

  • Software testing is a complex sector with its own terminology. Be accurate about the types of testing carried out in each project.
  • Detail if you wrote scripts from scratch, edited existing scripts, or used legacy scripts.
  • If you regularly write full frameworks/pipelines, describe the technologies used.
  • Describe the deployment and development stack

When I assess a job spec, I ask myself these questions. “Manual or Automation” If it’s Automation, “How much of a developer does this person need to be?” Then I worry about software stacks and tools.
It’s important that your CV gets the breadth of your experience across to a non-testing audience. :slight_smile:


(Brian) #3

This is a few general tidbits I learned from a job-hunting coach a few years back.

  1. Use a human-voiced style. Lists can be boring, and do nothing to separate you from the crowd. Making your story which is about you, personal will at least give recriters, managers, HR folk something good to read.
  2. Include some statements about the companies you have worked for in your CV. Sure, the hiring people can search that information for themselves (well, not always, some of my previous employers are now out of business), but why would you want to give them more work?
  3. Think about something in your work history which will help solve a perceived problem for your reader. This problem-solving project or skill does not need to me in the primary description of your tasks, but including this could open the door to constructive conversation.
  4. Be honest. You don’t have to include negative points, but don’t invent the positive ones.
  5. Don’t include too much irrelevant information. My future software testing gig shouldn’t care that I worked as a cleaner to put myself through school. (Note: I actually still include that in my CV, as it is an important part of my narrative. I WANT to talk about that part of my life, as it illustrates something important about me (i.e. why I moved to a foreign country and how I adapted once I got here). These are heuristics.

(Vlad Romanenko) #4

I have non-computer science background and when I applied for the very first Testing job iit was really hard to make a good CV.
Anyway, my approach was:

  • Accurately fill in Linkedin page, trying to leave more or less relevant skills / courses / certs (e.g. I’ve studied soil science :volcano::mountain_snow::earth_asia::national_park:, though still attended courses about computer analisys and some programming)
  • Add Bio \ personal statement \ About me - whatever it is - section with brief introduction
  • Extract it to a CV (I imported Linkedin page to https://europass.cedefop.europa.eu and adjusted. In my case, for example I needed translation to another language)

Now, after a few years passed I’m removing less relevant skills from the CV, but paying more attention to the “About” section, trying to make it (as it was mentioned in the comment above) - more “human” and catching the eye.
I was involved in the interviewing process at my previous place and must admit - if there’s anything that distinguishes your Cv from the others - that’s a big plus.


(Andrew) #5

I disagree with Rose on the length thing. I’ve generally lost interest by page 4. In any case, all the most relevant things should be at the top. I once had a 8-page CV come in that said “During my 6 months in a technical writer role, I learned to write clearly and concisely.” NO YOU DIDN’T.

One way you can cut it down is to remove things that really are the day-to-day of any job. Some examples of trivial line items I’ve seen cut/pasted across EVERY ROLE on a single CV were “filed bugs when issues found” or “Gave regular status updates”. Why are those worth calling out? No wonder I stopped reading that 6-pager. I even had one where their achievements for a role included converting PS files to PDF. If that’s the best thing you can mention about your time there… what the heck was going on?

Another thing: famously failed projects. I recently had a CV come in from someone who worked at a large Bank that had been in the news for having catastrophic IT issues. They had worked on the very project in question and just listed it alongside all their other roles. Yes I know it was probably management that messed that project up, but you need to say something about how that Bank had messed up their Trustee’s Savings and what you did to mitigate, etc.

I’d reiterate the “non-quantifiable metrics” thing. If I had a quid for every “solid understanding of X” I’d seen I’d be off retired in the Caribbean. How does your “solid understanding of X” differ from your “fully versed in Y”? Also, people often claim this for “V-model”. All that means is they’ve read the ISTQB syllabus.

For permanent roles, I’m happy for people to take some time to be fully up to speed in a new language, but some evidence of having learned a new language would be helpful, or similar ones. e.g. If I’m looking for python, then its good to mention any background in Ruby, perl or PHP and how you taught yourself golang on a Raspberry Pi in your spare time.


(Kate) #6

A few thoughts from the US side of the pond:

  • Over here, they call it a resume. If you talk about a CV us poor 'murricans get confuzzled (I moved from Australia to the US and it took me a while to get used to that).
  • There’s also a lot of resistance to anything longer than 2 pages. I’ve seen 20 years of experience condensed to 2 pages while still making an impressive resume.
  • Specific details beat generalities every time. As does any kind of financial boost you can legitimately claim. (such as “I was the sole tester on a $10 million software project for a customer, which was delivered on time with no serious issues” - but remember the claim needs to be legitimate, and you need to provide as much detail as you can without stepping on NDAs or other confidentiality issues).
  • Be prepared to get questions on any gaps in your work experience as well as why you want to change positions.
  • If you include programming language experience, you need to say what you did with the language and how many years experience you have with it.

(Jason) #7

It’s a long time since my CV was more than two pages. These days it’s one hand a half. It helps I’ve had the same employer for almost twenty years… The main things are what you do now and your current skills. I only include the skills I use and can answer questions about (though my recall is usually dreadful in an interview situation). As a friend (and former colleague) who reviewed one of my earlier CV’s put it, “No one cares that you used Rational Robot back in the Stone Age”. If your role involves face to face contact with customers, get that right in the face of the person reading your CV, because everyone wants a good communicator.

A minor cultural point worth noting. A British recruiter might interested in what you get up to at the weekend, because they’re wondering how well rounded you are. US colleagues tell me they never put interests outside or work on their CV (unless something worthy; charitable work, for example).


(João Farias) #8

I was not able to be comfort with 1 page - I never had feel that 2 pages was negative somehow.

I start with a session “Professional Goals”. This section serves to raise the eyebrows of the reader, to sell myself as a great professional. If I feel I can highlight some aspect for a given company, I do, but the thing is quite general.

After that, only bullet points.

  • Education history, with text of some activity or course relevant to the specific job.
  • Professional history, with description of activities and technologies.
  • Technologies, where each bullet point is a “theme”: Programming Languages, Testing, CI, Others. This allows me to list more items in fewer lines.
  • Community Contributions (Open source and conferences)
  • Awards or similar
  • Favorites Technical Books. This can create a rapport with someone who have liked the book as well :smiley:

(Robert) #9

(And also replying to others) Sorry, but once your career gets much over 35 years, two pages is never going to be enough, even if you reduce things to name of employer and job title for the less relevant ones. The trick is to put the best stuff first, so it doesn’t matter if any given recruiter, no matter how interested, doesn’t make it to the last page. Mine starts with a snappy summary and then a bulleted list of the ten top achievements. If any of that interests a recruiter, they’ll read on. If none of that does, then they can put my CV aside before they hit the boredom threshold. And if a company doesn’t find that good stuff interesting, I probably don’t want to talk to them, either.

Previous roles are always listed with the most recent first, of course.

When I was job hunting two years ago, that CV was good enough to get me talking to different companies or recruiters virtually every day.


(Ady) #10

While I don’t feel qualified to offer lots of advice I’ve had a lot of good feedback for my CV I updated last year after assessing quite a few for interview and taking what I felt were the best ideas. Simplest way is to show you. It won’t work for everyone and some will need more job histories and more specifics but hopefully there’s some ideas you can take away and use.

Page 1 - Elevator opening, key skills and achievements

Page 2 - Practical experience, minimal job history, hobbies and qualifications


A challenge like no other
(Kim) #11

It’s a hard one right? Cause " One person’s craziness is another person’s reality" (meaning what one person thinks is right or great another may have an opposite opinion).

Last year I was looking for my next project and I decided to only apply for positions within companies I thought might be fun. I think I applied for maybe 12 positions over 3 months and received around 50% positive response. I think the key to that was I had researched thoroughly the company/tech team then customised my cv or resume to fit them.

I also decided I would choose only companies I thought I might be a fit with and I did ask a couple of recruiters to remove my resume from their files as I was not happy with their process.

I was very lucky to have the support of my partner in this decision, which we self funded, so I could take my time. Applying for positions when your back is against the wall is soul destroying and I feel for anyone in that situation.

One point I might add is be very careful about how you set anything out as here in Australia government applications are full of AC and they are easy to miss, so do your homework/checklist. If someone is adding a picture to their resume, I would recommend using a professional one and not doing the duck lip pose lol. Here in Australia LinkedIn profile for tech is well viewed so make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile matches. If possible start attending meetups, write your own blog, mentor someone… I am suggesting these as it seems everyone has the cv/resume thing covered but that is only one single aspect of finding that new project.


(Kim) #12

Nice resume Ady :+1:


(Phil Halliday) #13

@adrian.stokes
I would say Ady has it done very well - 2pages no more and no less.

I’m in Australia so this may be different. However, most CVs are just a reference point of your work history. It is the job application itself that makes up 90% of your review. Writing that as a story while covering all of the job selection criteria is the most crucial part of any application. My best tip is do not worry too much about your CV because if you write a good application, your CV is almost ignored and if you really are worried about your CV - look to Ady’s example above.

One of my favorite things to do for any job application is check out the companies website - can you find any bugs there? Let them know about them is a nice way when applying.


(Phil Halliday) #14

@adrian.stokes

You have a extra word on page 2 - “Writing and reviewing Acceptance Criteria with for the User Stories”

and a bit further down it probably should be “User Journeys”

Still a great CV though!


(Heather) #15

It seems people are really focusing on the two page part. I’d like us to widen the net to what should be on the CV rather than the length. If we have the focus of what should be on it, then I think length will follow naturally from that.


(Kim) #16

I just looked at my resume and noted what I had done.

I created a Personal Overview with roughly 5 - 7 bullet points targeted at their AC/position description/company ethos etc in line with my soft skill set in a single sentence using STAR method if you can.

Then I listed the last couple of positions high overview trying to align my experiences with what they are looking for. An example would be part of one of my roles was working on the transformation from legacy to a new CRM. I worked for this company in tech for about 3ish years and it probably turned out to be a 6 mth project within the company. But the place I am applying for I know are rolling out some digital transformation on a new CRM so I would really focus on the tools I used and what my part was in my previous project. If this makes sense. The important thing is do your homework, find out as much as you can about that company, staff, team etc and bring that information into your resume.

I did list after that my tech skillset tools I am very familar with and others I have a basic knowledge of including methodologies I have applied.

That was pretty much it as I figure if you really want a blow by blow account of what I have done look up my linkedin account - link included.

All I can say is custom build your resume for each application and doing that really is a full time job :+1:

If anyone wants to chat more about this absolutely feel free to reach out anytime. K


(Lada) #17

Question.
Most articles with recommendations for a CV say that you should quantify your achievments. But I don’t find a way to do that in testing. Has anyone here done that?

It doesn’t make sense to count the bug reports or sth. And you cannot claim that your testing was so good that you were able to deploy to production eg. one month earlier than planned.
The numbers would make your CV stand out, but I can’t think of anything meaningful. Do you?


(Lada) #18

I am playing with the automation, but I cannot say that I am pretty successful yet :slight_smile:
But for some time before I actually had a sentence in my CV that I was ‘experimenting with automation’. I wasn’t quite happy with that phrase though. It doesn’t sound most professional.
Now I have ‘limited experience with…’, which could be explained in details in the interview.


(Ady) #19

Thanks Phil, and good spot. Now amended :slight_smile:


(Kate) #20

Lada,

What works for me is to say things like:

  • Sole tester for a million-dollar project involving development of a new webstore, integration with existing turnstile, printing, and scanning equipment, integration with back end product management software, delivered on time and in budget to multinational client.
  • Designed, implemented, and maintained internal SDLC system, including customizing interfaces and developing continuous integration pipeline.
  • Maintained suite of 15 virtual machines used to run automation.
  • Maintained and extended UI test automation suite with over 1/2 million lines of code, running in excess of 10 thousand UI tests per day.

(These are all things I’ve done - and for an actual CV, I expand that a bit, but it gives the hard data in a way that quantifies what I’ve done).