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How To Write The Perfect Resume

We (Emma de Vos and Britney Kidd) have created this blog to provide insight into how to write, (in our eyes), the perfect resume for a Software Developer.

Being Recruiters in the IT industry we have seen some inadequate CV’s throughout our engagement. We have reviewed CV’s which don’t outline skills and experience, CV’s which are 15 pages long, and CV’s which don’t include personal contact details… we’ve seen it all!

Both of us agree that writing a CV isn’t necessarily on someone’s ‘favourite things to do’ list, or on someone’s list of proficient tasks either. Thus, we thought we could and should help out our network (and beyond).

One thing we want to reiterate and highlight is that our tips are NOT the only ‘perfect’ or ‘correct’ way to write a CV. They are merely our professional opinions on what we deem as ideal for those actively applying for positions as a Software Developer (or similar).

So, have a read, and please reach out if you have any questions.

CHAPTER 1: Technical Capabilities and Position Descriptions

CHAPTER 2: Position Titles and Time Frames

CHAPTER 3: Personal Details and Executive Summary

CHAPTER 4: What not to include

CHAPTER 5: Formatting and Layout

Chapter 1 of how to write the perfect resume

Technical Capabilities

A fantastic way to summarise your skill set is by putting together a list or table of the technologies/frameworks you’ve worked with and it’s beneficial to have this on the first page of your CV. It’s usually one of the first things a recruiter will look for when screening your CV for a Software Development position.

No matter if you’ve dabbled with a technology here-and-there over the course of 6 months, or have worked with it daily for 4 years, get it on there. You have experience with it and it’s valuable!

There is no need to explain such experience in detail in this section of your CV, as those details will form part of your position summaries in the body of your CV.

Worth noting: 

To fast track the screening and selection process, recruiters are likely to ‘ctrl f’ some key skills they’re looking for (e.g. React, Azure, MySQL). If it’s not listed, it’s unlikely you’ll pass the initial screening stages.

A good example of how to outline such is shown below:

Technical skills on your resume

Position Description

When it comes to outlining your experience, clear and concise is key. We want to hear about the project you worked on, your contributions and your achievements, want to see what you did and how you did it, and whether your past experience would add value to the position you’re applying for.

This must be clear and concise. Short n’ sweet. A lot of recruiters have a high volume of CV’s to screen. This means, it is unlikely for a position description half a page in length per role to be read. Too much writing takes away the focus from the key skills a recruiter (and subsequently a hiring manager) is looking for, thus reducing the chances of having your CV shortlisted. Outline the KEY details about the role. 

Additionally, under each position/project you’ve worked on, list the technologies/frameworks you used during that engagement. It allows for a sense of relevancy and indicates whether your experience is applicable to the position in mind.

A brief example of how to outline such is shown below:

Front end develop example on resume

Chapter 2 of how to write the perfect resume.

Position titles

As LinkedIn and Seek are becoming increasingly used by recruiters to source candidates, key search words are targeted to suffice suitable returns.

For example, if our client is looking for a Full Stack Developer with experience in Angular and PHP development, we’d be looking for profiles with Full Stack Developer and Angular and PHPWithout such key words, it’s unlikely a recruiter will contact you. Why? We then assume you do not possess the skill set which is required.

Worth noting: although accurate, it makes it difficult to be found if your job title is ‘Software Developer’ (or similar). Being more specific increases your chances of being found via online platforms (LinkedIn, Seek etc). Having ‘Software Developer’ as a title will suffice ONLY IF there is sufficient further information which details the specific development frameworks/technologies you used. It’s very generic and does not give much of an indication as to what you specialise in.

To sum it up: keep it clear, obvious and common.

An example of suitable position titles is shown below:

how to write the perfect resume

Position time frames

Time frames are imperative to any CV. It’s essential to include such information. However, it needs to be somewhat specific. We’re interested in knowing when you were in a position, and for what length of time. It allows recruiters to understand your career prospects and gives a sense of how you operate, through indicating your commitment and outcomes.

Evidently, there is a solid difference between January 2019 and December 2019, thus only stating ‘2018 – 2019’ is not adequate. Make sure to include the month of your employment as well. Specific dates are not necessary.

For example:

how to write the perfect resume

Chapter 3 of how to write the perfect resume.

Personal Details

At the very beginning of your CV there are a few key details that should appear. These should be included regardless of whether you are applying directly for a role or applying through a recruitment agency. 

Your name

We know it sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many CV’s come past our desk which don’t have it included. If you have a preferred name, include that too. This can be placed however you like. If your preferred name is more comfortable for you, then it will be for us too. Evidently, we like to know this so we can address you appropriately.

Contact details

Please include your mobile number, email address and your LinkedIn link as well. Otherwise we might have your dream job available and not be able to reach you. 

Location

We work jobs all over Australia, thus stating your suburb & city will help us to determine a suitable location for you to work. Imagine travelling from Dandenong to Geelong daily – ouch! (both classes as Melbourne but over 100km’s apart!) If you would rather not include this on your CV or you are happy to commute (or relocate) then we suggest listing a ‘preferred location.’

Executive Summary:

After stating your personal details, an executive summary is one of the first things we should see. It shouldn’t be long, just include a few sentences that summarise who you are, your experience and what sort of role you’re looking for. Know that it’s important that you do mention what you’re looking for as you may be working as a senior developer but looking for a Tech Lead position. Telling us what you’re looking for allows us to contact you with roles that you’ll actually be interested in hearing about, not just roles that we think you’d be good at. Your executive summary is the first introduction that we (and hiring managers) have to your profile – so make it count! 

For example:

details and summary on a resume

Chapter 4 of how to write the perfect resume.

In our last few chapters we have been focusing heavily on things that you should include in your CV, but this chapter we are going to talk about things that you shouldn’t. 

Some personal details

When displaying your personal details, there are some that are irrelevant and should be omitted. Two details that don’t need to be provided include your date of birth and gender. Neither of these details are important when you can do the job well. It also helps the fight against potential age or gender discrimination. 

Irrelevant experience

We recommend tailoring your CV to highlight your experience that is relevant to the role you’re applying for.  Even if you have a more generic CV that you use for all job applications, it’s still important to leave out irrelevant experience. If you’re now a Frontend Developer, we don’t need to know that your first job in 2002 was a cashier at Coles. This might be relevant to someone who has recently graduated high school or University, but it is not relevant for a senior developer who has been in the industry for 15 years. 

Tip: When tailoring your CV, refer to the position description for ideas on what experience you should focus on and highlight.

CV vs Folio/Website

Your CV is NOT your folio/website. Rather, your CV is a run-down on your key capabilities and an insight into what you’ve done previously, with whom, when and how. It should summarise the key details. This means, it is not necessary to include step by step graphs and/or pictures of each project/product you’ve worked on. 1) Your CV becomes too lengthy, and 2) it’s distracting and it doesn’t allow for uniformity or for key info to flow. Your folio/website exists to serve the purpose of showcasing your work – not your CV. Including a link to your folio/website on your CV is sufficient (and very much preferred).

Photos

Another thing which is quite common, although not necessary, is a picture of yourself on your CV. Long story short, it does not serve much purpose, as interviewing for a job is not about what you look like, it’s about what you can do. 

References

Although essential to finalise the recruitment and selection process, the details of your professional and personal referee’s do not need to be included on your CV. They are not required until requested. Referee contact details are not used to assess your capability during initial screening stages, thus, why include it? Most recruiters and hiring managers will ask for such details upon a successful interview. 

don't write this on your resume

Chapter 5 of how to write the perfect resume.

CV length

On average, an initial screen of a resume takes 6 seconds. Make them count! This means, your CV should be clear and concise. The number one rule that we want to emphasise. 

There should be no big blocks of text anywhere in your CV. It’s okay to provide a couple of sentences about the project you worked on and what your role was (though sometimes we think this information is best presented in dot points). 

A CV which goes beyond 3 pages eliminates conciseness and becomes unattractive. As mentioned in previous posts, CV’s should be concise and contain KEY details that are RELEVANT to the position you are applying for. Simple (yet not too simple) is best in most cases.

From there, it is important to make sure that your CV is easy to read. Maintain a uniform font style and size throughout. Bolding keywords is encouraged but using different font sizes is distracting and disrupts flow. Use a colour which is easy to read (black or navy for example). We do quite like seeing a little of your own style flare incorporated as long as it’s not distracting. 

Layout and structure

Below is what we feel is an ideal CV structure. Although there is no right or wrong to this, there is definitely a ‘best’ or ‘better’:

  1. Personal details
  2. Professional summary
  3. Technical stack/core competencies
  4. Experience
  5. Education, including certifications and qualifications
  6. Optional: Visa, languages spoken
how to structure the perfect resume

That’s all for our Resume Writing Tips… for now! We hope you’ve enjoyed the read and we’re looking forward to seeing all of your amazing CVs!

As always, we are happy to review your CVs and provide feedback so feel free to send them over to us! At CH Solutions we love feedback so please get in touch with any comments or suggestions.

Good luck,

Emma de Vos & Britney Kidd