Creating a CV to land the interview
Women are excelling out there in a variety of technical jobs in the UK and across Europe - despite being vastly underrepresented in the industry. Yet, when it comes to technical CVs, women are heading straight to the no pile – but is it because of their gender, or because of CVs that undersell skills and remain modest about achievements? If you’re looking for your next IT role, you need to get creating a CV that screams you’re worth interviewing - because you are.
The importance of a strong CV
You already know the importance of a strong CV, but it’s always worth reminding yourself. Your CV is your ticket to the interview stage. You’re asking someone to give you money, furniture, space, career advancement, new friends and free tea and coffee - you need to earn it by investing time, effort and love into your two-page sales brochure.
Creating an interview-worthy technical CV
Your CV is one of potentially hundreds of similar looking and sounding CVs - how do you stand out? Luckily, not many people put the thought and time into their CV that you’re about to - meaning that you’ll grab attention, intriguing the interviewing manager to find out more by inviting you to an interview. How do you achieve this?
Your CV is about to sit an exam and fortunately, you have the answers right in front of you. Research the company and study the job description to understand their ideal candidate. Then inject keywords, terminology and examples into your CV that perfectly answer their candidate search. Importantly, this should be repeated for every job you apply for - tailoring your CV is crucial.
Imagine reading hundreds of CVs littered with business jargon, fluffy statements and day-to-day responsibilities. Sounds boring, right? Be the woman with a CV that sparks interest, sounds intriguing and is already demonstrating the interpersonal skills required for the role. Balance your CV between technical and human - demonstrating the knowledge to perform and the personality to succeed.
You’re excelling in a male-dominated industry - we know you’re confident, so why aren’t you showing it on your CV? If you’re the expert on a methodology - say it. If you don’t know a particular language that well, but you’re eager to learn more, admit it. Confidence secures you an interview based on your ability and your eagerness to develop.
Filling in the gaps
Whether you took a couple of years out to enjoy the school run, twelve months off globetrotting and finding yourself, or 24 weeks off because you wanted to find the right role following redundancy - it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re honest and you own it. CV gaps only draw attention when they’re unexplained. Instead, highlight what you did and how you improved in that time - whether you used your technical skills to run the after-school coding club, project-managed a team of fruit pickers in Spain or spent time working on open-sourced projects - spin it into a positive.
Winning the initial seconds
General research suggests that you have between 7-9 seconds for your CV to impress. Use your time wisely by:
- Adopting a simple font, clear layout, bold headings and plenty of white space;
- Opening with a compelling personal statement that’s to the point about who you are and what you’re looking for;
- Keeping to two pages by cutting out the jargon and unnecessary information; and
- Displaying your most important information in bullet points.
Keeping them hooked for minutes
Once you’ve passed the first 7-9 seconds, you need to retain that interest through informative and relevant content split into:
Use bullet points to showcase your top technical and soft skills that are necessary for the role. It can be tempting to list everything here but don’t - stick to the skills that are relevant, up-to-date and, importantly, that you want to use.
This is the hardest part of a CV - providing enough detail to show off your expertise while not boring the socks off of your future manager. The key here is to include your most recent and relevant roles and talk about what you achieved and how you achieved it. For example, what metrics did your last project deliver, and what methodologies did you use to achieve those results?
Learning and development
Use this section to show off your knowledge and ability to stay up-to-date by including relevant and recent qualifications, certifications and awards.
Hobbies and interests
While not strictly necessary, hobbies and interests provide recruiters with a little more information about you as a person - helping them to decide whether you’ll fit into the team and the culture.
Throughout all of these sections, keep in only the essential information - constantly questioning “do they want to know this information?” If they do have an appetite to find out more, they can head to your LinkedIn profile (which you’re going to link to at the bottom of your CV).
Checking, checking and checking again
The biggest mistake on your CV is a mistake on your CV. Triple check your CV for errors and readability and then ask family, friends and your IT recruitment consultant to do one final check.
And there you have it - the perfect CV to land an interview with - good luck.
Stay tuned for the second part in our HER+Data blog series, offering CV, interview and salary negotiation advice for women working in technical roles!