imageA first glance look at your resume will rest assure a potential employer that you are not worth hiring if it looks like a crap.

Even if you listed tons of technologies, badly looking resume hints that you don’t care about the quality of things. Employer might think: “He must be writing his code in the same ugly way.”

In this blog post I want to share few things I did to my resume.

Actually, I have more of a CV than a resume. After recent changes I created two different versions of my CV. One is more concise two pages that I would normally use and another is extended 4 pages version. Four pages version contains detailed information on projects I worked on, so it can serve for my future editing, should I need more information.

Being Specific about Contributions and Achievements

Probably, the main thing anyone should do to their CVs is to ensure your future employer will have a clear idea on what you had done before. Obscure general phrases are just destroyers of a resume or CV.

For my own resume I completely rewrote everything into smarter format. I used past tense bullet-point sentences to clearly describe what I did. Let’s have a look at before and after of one concrete example.

Before

This is what I previously had as a summary for my experience at bwin.party company:

“Developing and extending large set of back-end services in scope of enterprise SOA architecture in large betting company. Scalability and performance were top most requirements.”

It was followed by a list of projects I worked on. One of them was statistics service I created. I described it like this:

“Service which fetches huge amount of statistics data from external provider over FTP and transforms it for internal consumption.”

Obviously potential employer looking at this description wouldn’t have any idea at what my contribution to this project was. Was I implementing it from scratch or was I fixing bugs? Or, maybe, I just know something about the system so I listed it.

After

After editing, the summary became:

“Bwin.party is an online betting company. I worked in the company’s sports branch, with a team responsible for backend services. Scalability and performance were the top most requirements. Most services were exposed through REST API; they had to be available 24/7 and withstand extreme loads during championship events.”

Then, I came up with this description for the statistics project:

“Designed, implemented, and launched a new sports statistics system. This system imported data from an external FTP location and made it available on our website through AppFabric Cache.”

This description exactly says what I did and even provides a glance look at some of the technologies used.

English

Another thing I had to improve was my writing. I’m not native English speaker and I’ve never took any English grammar classes. I make many mistakes.

I hired an editing and proofreading company to go through my CV and fix mistakes. I only paid 31 Euro, but my CV became English language error free. Plus they provided a few general suggestions on improving my CV.

You have to be really careful with someone editing your CV, as they might change the meaning unintentionally. For example, they wrote “Fixed a serious performance problem using search engine…” when it really had to be “Fixed a serious performance problem in the site’s search engine…”

There were obvious problems that made their way from times when my English was even weaker. For instance, sentence “I was awarded in nomination “Best Rookie Developer of 2008” in my team of 50 people, so am proud of this, because at that year our team got a lot of new people.” sounds horrible to me. Now it just says: “Was awarded the “Best Rookie Developer of 2008”.

Formatting

I completely changed the format of my CV. I’ve borrowed styling and formatting from my friend’s resume. He’s hired a professional technical writer to create a CV for him.

Before

Previous version was grey 4 pages wall of heavy text with odd formatting.

My old CV formatting

After

The new version is just two pages. It is nicely formatted and is error free. It is available here.

Andriy Buday's CV screenshot

Review

It’s very important that someone reviews your CV. I asked my colleague who does a lot of interviews to review my CV. He said that if CV is short, screener reads through all job posts, but if it is long screening ends at your last job post. So it depends what you want to show. Other thing he thought of, was adding skill grades for different technologies, like C# (major skill), F# (minor skill). I didn’t incorporate this advice, but I’m still considering it.

Photo

I added a new photo to my CV, not the one you currently see. After I showed my CV to my wife, she said that she would never hire someone who looks that frowning and sad. I had to make a new picture with a hint of a smile.

Next Steps

Recommendation Letters

I already have official recommendation letters from two of my previous companies. I’m planning to include those when applying for a job. A recommendation letter for a software developer is not common in Ukraine where I had worked before moving to Austria. But here in Western-Central Europe it is almost a must. I think that it doesn’t do any harm to ask for an official recommendation letter even if it is not common in the country where you live. Ask for it now, otherwise it could be a difficulty to get it few years later.

Cover Letter

I’ve never used a cover letter. It has never came to me that this might be a useful technic. But it might, especially if you are looking for a specific job and want to outline exactly why you are the best match for it. Should I find my “job of dream” I might consider creating dedicated cover letter. For now, I won’t create one. Have you ever used a cover letter? Did it work for you?

Hiring a Professional Resume Writer

I haven’t done this. I also have mixed feelings about hiring someone to write my CV completely from scratch. Probably, they can do a great job. But finding a really worthy professional might take lot of time. Also a good one would cost you few hundreds $. Though, it is definitely a great investment, if you resume looks terrible at the moment.

Conclusion

My resume wasn’t looking good. It isn’t extraordinary great now, but I think I’ve improved it significantly. Main things I did to it, was rewriting it in more concise and descriptive manner, fixing mistakes by hiring a proofreading company, and changing the styling.

Hopefully, this post can be of some help to make your resume look better. I would be really happy to know if it helped.

If you have suggestions on further improvements to my CV, I would really appreciate it.

Update April 2016

There is more to having professionally looking CV / Resume. You should consider having market oriented resume versions.

For instance, described above two pages CV with a photo is common for EU, but it is not a great thing for US market.

In US it is more appropriate to have 1 page resume without any personal information.

As a result I created US oriented one page resume.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someone