What changes to your CV/Resume have helped you?

@leigh.rathbone shares a whole bunch of tips to help improve your CV/Resume – available in this document.

I have been looking at CVs, and interviewing people, for the best part of 25 years now. I have gained some knowledge along the way as to what I like to see on a CV, what I like to see in an interview. I am no expert, but I thought it time to share my experience and thoughts.

Some points that jump out:

  • Sometimes a CV/Resume can be the only mechanism to get an interview
  • Get to the point immediately as a hiring manager may be looking at many CVs – what Leigh refers to as “the right hooks”
  • Feedback is essential. Get it in front of many people from various places in their careers/roles.

What changes to your CV/Resume have helped you? What updates/tweaks made a positive difference in your job search? What advice can you share to help someone who is looking for a new job right now?

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TLDR: create as many ‘at a glance’ sections as you can. You want the detail in the main section but for someone reading a pile of CVs, having a quick scan and making it easy for them to see your best bits will increase your chances of being noticed. You want to hook them in to get them to read the rest so make sure you pull out the really great bits!

Personal profile: at the top of my CV before my work experience I have a small statement of who I am, what’s important to me as a quality person, what my motivation is and why I’m interested in working in the quality space.

Carving out a column on the left about a third of the width of the page to highlight Skills & Experience, Achievements and Training courses I’ve done. These are short bullet point lists.
At a glance someone can see what I’m proud of in terms of my skills e.g. a particular language or for me as a coach, facilitation, process improvement. These are short bullet points, one or two words.
At a glance someone can see what I’ve achieved as ‘extra curricular’ activities like speaking at a conference or mentoring someone.

For my latest/current job, before I go into my specific experience I add a short succinct paragraph of what I achieved at this company. For example, I came in as the first QA, set up these processes, achieved these results. Again, it’s an at a glance summary of what I achieved there.

I submitted a pink CV for my last job. I believe it’s really important to show your personality in your CV because I want to be hired by a company that celebrates me bringing my whole self to work. Having said that, you will know as testers that you want your CV to be accessible to all, usable and readable! But there is room to personalise while maintaining these characteristics :slightly_smiling_face:

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+1 on what Leigh says about “how did you add value”. Don’t just list tasks you did. Describe your accomplishments. “I led the initiative to build a new customer knowledge base, and it cut our customer support emails down by 50%”.

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In the modern world, I believe keywords are key, so be sure to incorporate important terms relevant to your experience, skills, or for the targeted jobs. For the automated systems to pick up, or for the recruiter or hiring manager to notice.

I also have a pet peeve of keeping the resume short. One page should really do even for a long career, you can always discuss your career at the interview, and just highlight/list the important jobs you had over your career (or summarize them as best you can). I don’t think people really want to sift through a multi-page resume. And I don’t think in general one’s long career merits describing every job you had or every duty you had at a given job, with all that exactly applicable to the jobs you are applying to. If it really makes sense to you, there can be exceptions, but from what I’ve seen as an interviewer, most people did overkill when they sent in a multi-page resume, I don’t recall specifically any one that was long that really caught my eye like this person we should definitely interview.

For keeping resume short to one page, you can also adjust the page margins. I personally don’t mind if there is less white space on resume as long as it’s not overly cluttered, even then I can make exceptions. I prefer that over going past one page.

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