1) The Photo
Yes even I toyed with the idea when I was first job hunting after Uni but I thought better of it. Unless you’re a super model ditch the photo, a job is about skills & experience you can offer; and you don’t want to pull in any unwanted bias. It’s a nice surprise when the person turns up and they’re well presented with a friendly smile, so let your experience do the talking firstly and your personality shine when you meet face-to-face or on skype.
2) The Cover Letter
Yes we expect a cover letter but not what you’d expect. A cover letter is an opportunity to let us IT recruiters or hiring managers know one thing:
WHY YOU ARE THE BEST PERSON FOR THIS JOB
....what specific skills & experience you can bring to the role, you can also add in your current employment situation / availability, visa status etc.
Keep it short, sweet & concise. It can even come in the shape of a brief email direct to my inbox - a couple of short paragraphs and a hot tip for you is to use the recruiters or line managers name - it’s easy to spot spammed approaches.
Think of it as your elevator pitch. Your 30 second summary of what you do :-)
Remember the hiring manager & the applicant have one major thing in common...
THEY BOTH WANT YOU TO GET THE JOB :-)
Yes I do want to know that your brother or sister lives in Christchurch & you visited here on holiday or honeymoon!
3) The Technical Test
YOU DON’T HAVE TO KNOW EVERYTHING
This is not a chance for the employer to ‘catch you out’, this is a chance for you to show how you can keep your cool under pressure, work on some hard problems that you don’t know by asking questions, working through logically to create a solution or come to a conclusion. Dev or IT managers want you to admit you don’t know something, to be genuine & honest but want to know how you could go about finding the answer to a problem in a positive & proactive way.
NO ONE KNOWS EVERYTHING AND THAT'S OK
Working in a time pressured IT or development environment is about solving lots of little problems all the time and how you can get from A ——> B quickest.
So don’t go down the rabbit hole ask questions!
4) The 1 Page CV
Again a total myth - all I want is a nice document, spaced with bullet points that is easily digestible, easy on the eye and if you can get into one page well done you!
Ideal is a 2-3 page concise document that the audience will actually read.
It can be 3-5 pages if it’s relevant content. ideally you should be able to get into 2-3 pages but don’t sweat it, I just don’t want to read 12 pages+. Oh but I’m an IT contractor you ask? Yes so you can have a short & a long version. Some contractors in the IT industry only present their past 4 years experience as relevant with technologies moving on so quickly, I’m happy to see that past experience included only if it’s relevant to the role.
Tweak your CV to each opportunity to ensure it’s RELEVANT and remember...
The whole point of your CV & cover letter is to get an interview
Use a professional business font like arial 11, NO comic sans unless you’re applying as an entertainer for a kids party. Short, sharp, relevant and yes I want to see your interests but one or two lines will do :-)
Another good tip is to have your CV in both PDF & Word form. PDF ideally to be consumed by all devices as I’ve noticed some fonts being skewed when read on iPad / tablets or phones. ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) that larger companies often use sometimes need a word document to be consumed by the system so have both ready to go :-)
Remember to put your work history in reverse chronological order - most recent experience first which is standard practice globally!
If you’d like any help or constructive critique on your CV or have me send you a CV or Cover Letter template feel free to send me an email firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm Paul, Founder & Principal Consultant of Sunstone, an IT Recruitment & HR company specialising in recruiting IT roles within software, web, mobile, development & networks in Christchurch & South Island of New Zealand.