Getting a Job

CV

This CV section is relevant for people applying to jobs within the UK.

Best practice

  • Keep it short and concise, 1-2 pages maximum

  • Put your details at the top. Only these details are necessary:

    • Name

    • Email (use a sensible oneβ€”no [email protected] etc.)

    • Phone number

    • Your city (not your full address since this is personal information!

      If they need it they'll ask for it later)

    • If you have a LinkedIn profile you can add a link to it here (your LinkedIn profile should have the same information and dates as the rest of your CV)

  • Use the following sections, and only populate them with relevant details

    starting from the most recent first:

    1. Profile (optional)

      • Profile is who you are now, a short 'brag' and what you want to do next in your career

    2. Skills

    3. Employment

    4. Education (this can go above Employment if the last thing you did was education and not work)

    5. Personal projects

    6. Interests (optional)

Profile section explained

A profile section says who you are now, a quick summary of your skills and experience (1-2 sentences), and what you want to do next in your career. It needs to use action verbs and describe the job you're applying to. Change this section depending on the advert you apply to, copying the phrases used in the advert. Don't write "I am" (1st person) or "Nick is" (3rd person). Aim for a 3rd person impersonal tone:

I am An experienced front end web developer who takes pride in creating accessible sites using a variety of tools. I have Experience of working in a dynamic project environment using agile methodologies and tools including Adobe studio and React. I am Now looking for a new challenging position in a young dynamic organisation to build and consolidate skills.

In the example above, removing the "I am / I have" makes it sound a little less boastful and more factual. This way, you can say more about yourself. It's easy to write "I am / I have" in the first draft, then delete them later.

Change the job title in the first line to match the job you are applying for. If the job you are applying for is a Front End Web Designer, then write you are a front end web designer even if your last job was widget sales. Nothing turns off a recruiter faster than if the first line of the CV says you are something they are not looking for! Mirror the job advert language hereβ€”if they call a developer a designer, then write designer.

Next, if the advert asks for certain tools and you have that experience then mention them here. Bring out the most relevant bits of your CV experience in the next couple of sentences.

Finally, the last sentence is what you want to do next in your careerβ€”what sort of role in what sort of organisation. Again, mirror the language of the job advert. If they say they are a young dynamic agency then write you would like your next role to be in a young dynamic organisation.

Mirroring the language helps your application. If you are writing a general CV, write it using industry standard language and terms.

Employment section explained

Everything you have delivered in a role can be explained as an achievement. Each achievement is an example of completed work. Ideally, it should have a quantitative element. Each job needs 2-3 achievements. The layout can be something like:

Jan 2018 – Sept 2019 Front End Web Developer, Acme Web Ltd

Acme are an award winning developer based in Glasgow, with a design team of 30 and clients across the UK. Working as part of a wide team and along-side clients, I develop unique web front ends with UI and mobile accessibility in mind. Working with Jira, PHP and Adobe tools.

Achievements:

  • 2018 β€” Redesigned and dramatically simplified a web site for a client in 2 months, with very positive feedback from the client and their customers

  • 2019 β€” Working on a client premise, alongside marketing team. Created a custom Wordpress site for a charity, retiring an aging flash site. Handover included posting and maintenance training and documentation allowing them to become self-sufficient

Add the most recent experience first. The most recent or most important information appears above the older or less important information. If education is more important than experience for this job advert, then put the education section above experience. Focus on the experience that is relevant to the job you want.

If have an older unrelated career, de-focus its importance by writing less about it. However, you can extract and use the important aspects that are transferable. For example, if your previous experience was working in a pub then only write one line about it with no achievements, but you can include transferable skills such as working as part of a team and supporting colleagues.

Don't try to hide gaps in employment. Explain them if they lasted more than a few months. However, if you have unpaid volunteer work then you can add this as a job and expand on it if it provided experience relevant to the job advert.

CV layout

The layout of the CV should be right for the role you're applying for. An accountant's CV should be boring and a creative's CV can be more visually appealing. For your CV, the content is king. Layout and eye-appeal is secondary and in many cases can detract from the content.

Your CV should be a single column. 2-column CVs should be avoided.

Equal columns

In the 2-column example above, a 2-column format is applied to the CV text. The top of both columns are likely to contain different content. This makes it more difficult to read and can trip up screen reading and applicant tracking systems (ATS) if it tries to read across a line. Also, CVs are usually compiled with the most important information at the top of page 1, and the least important at the top of page 2. The 2-column format can distort this, leaving your best information at the bottom of the page.

Minor column

In the alternative 2-column example above, a second minor column is used for keywords and skills to highlight the experience in the main body. It can take a lot of work to set this up but ATSs might still parse it as a single line. If you absolutely have to have a 2-column format then this is going to be the best one to use.

The bottom line is you should avoid the 2-column format since it doesn't gain you enough for the problems it causes.

File format

PDFs should be avoided. They can be tricky to copy and paste from, often adding line breaks to text blocks that line-wrap. Agencies often reformat your CV to fit their house style in order to present it to clients. Making it more difficult to copy and paste will not help them.

DOC or DOCX (Microsoft Word format) is preferred by most employers and agents. It's easy to manipulate and copy into systems, and it is still the industry standard CV format. However, never embed macros into the Word document since most email virus systems will filter these by default.

RTF (rich text format) is still popular, and if you can make it look good in RTF then it is light and easy to maintain.

Whatever the format, your CV file size should never be more than 15MB. Keep graphical elements to a minimum.

CV guides

CV samples

Cover letter

A cover letter is essential for job applications. Ensure you provide one that is tailored for each of your job applications. You can search the internet to find various cover letter guides and samples.

Interviews

General interview questions

Technical interview questions with answers (intermediate-level)

Questions to ask the company

Live interview practice

Personal projects

Personal projects are a good way to build up your portfolio of code projects on GitHub. They are very useful for employers to see how you code and also demonstrate your enthusiasm.

Inspiration for personal projects

Walkthroughs of projects

Contributing to open source

Easier open source issues for people starting with open source contribution

How to contribute to an open source project on GitHub

Other