Getting your CV and cover letter to stand out is a bugbear for many when looking for a job in the IT industry. A stock standard CV and cover letter is not going to cut it nowadays.
It is important to understand what tech employers, hiring managers and recruiters are really looking for amongst their piles of resumes and cover letters. We’ve put together our top tips on how to supercharge your CV and cover letter to help you stand out from the crowd.
Get selective – hit that delete button if these four things feature in your CV/cover letter
Focus on facts and edit the fluff
The first step to improving your CV or cover letter is simple – get rid of the fluff you don’t need. Look at your CV/cover letter critically; what makes you sound awesome and hireable? And what will likely appear on the majority of other candidates’ applications? Remember, an IT recruiter will probably only spend 10-15 seconds per CV, unless one stands out. Make their job easier by only including skills and experience relevant to the opportunity at hand.
Say goodbye to a list of generic skills
If it’s a skill that’s expected of you, or that everyone else has, consider removing it. Some skills make you sound unique, whereas others sound like they’ve been copied and pasted from a generic resume template. Being proficient at Microsoft Word or Excel is not particularly ground-breaking in this day and age! Mention skills that are interesting, different and special – niche knowledge is your friend.
Delete the vague professional jargon
“Team player”, “results driven” and “good communicator” are examples of skills we often see sprinkled through resumes. Instead, use lively language and specific examples to explain how you use these skills in the workplace. Sure, you might be a great communicator, but how have you demonstrated this? Include action verbs and measurable quantities like “managed fifteen team members”, or “developed a process that decreased deployment risk by 50%.” Prove why that skill deserves a place on your CV/cover letter.
Rethink the “objective statement”
Unless you have just finished studying and are on the hunt for a graduate IT job, or are changing careers, the objective statement should be left out. In these scenarios, an objective shows the recruiter that you have drive and passion for a certain field, even if you have no prior experience. In most other instances, the objective statement hinders more than helps! An employer may misinterpret your objective statement, and assume you’re only interested in a very specific job role – meaning you miss out on other rewarding positions. Remove the objective from your CV and see what opportunities come your way.
Think of your CV as a highlight reel. Keep everything relevant, interesting and unique.
Focus on the wildly important – four game changer things to include in your CV/cover letter
We’ve told you what not to include, so what do you need to mention in your CV and cover letter?
Why is the company hiring? It’s usually because they need a new employee to solve a particular pain point. The job description will give you an insight into why they are looking for a new person, and the opening few sentences of your cover letter should address that. It’s as if you are answering their call for help – focus on how you could make an immediate impact in the role, not just on how much you want the job.
Your project portfolio is your new best friend.
The saying “a picture speaks a thousand words” is the driving logic here – present your skills in a visual way. Include examples of recent projects you’ve worked on, or add a link to your personal website. Having actual work to support the skills/experience mentioned in your CV is a great selling point. If you’re “fresh” to the IT market, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show off your skills! Feature examples from course projects, content you’ve learned in class or any interesting discoveries you made during your studies.
Include your tech extracurriculars.
Put time aside for your professional development outside of work or your studies. Watch webinars, attend industry meetups or learn a new coding language – and document all of these efforts on your CV! Employers love to see candidates working hard to step up their game. Taking initiative to develop your IT skills outside of your work/study time shows you have a genuine passion for your work.
Showcase your accomplishments.
Simply listing out the functions of previous roles/courses doesn’t show your potential employer where you added value. Instead, demonstrate where you made a tangible impact in previous roles; to the processes, workplace culture or the tech itself. Avoid being vague – use actual numbers to support your examples. If a new process you implemented increased overall productivity by 60%, sing your praises and make the recruiter want to follow up with you.
Change your tune – tailor your CV/cover letter for the tech industry using these four techniques
We shared some great hacks to smash your CV/cover letter out of the park. Read our four quick tips below to finish of your new and improved CV!
Check out some of our other tips on how to write a cover letter:
Speak the same language as the company
Do a bit of research prior to applying for the job and customise your CV/cover letter accordingly. Look for insights into the company’s culture and their values. If the company seems to value creativity and lateral thinking, be sure to weave these values throughout your job application. Employers aren’t only looking for someone with a technical skill set, they will also consider your “fit” with the company’s culture.
Be specific to beat the bots
IT recruitment can be a tough gig. Managing the application process is a hefty task for many businesses, and more employers are relying on automated online application systems to assist. The systems filter through CVs, by searching for keywords and phrases. The CVs the system deems most relevant are then sent to the employer for review. There are some great tips and tricks on how to beat the robots, increasing your chances of getting your CV in front of an actual pair of eyes! A quick tactic is to include keywords in your CV/cover letter that are relevant to the job on offer. Rather than writing “coding” as a skill, use “HTML” or “CSS” instead – the robot will pick it up and your chances of landing that dream job are greatly improved!
Stay on topic and use that job description to your advantage
Your cover letter needs to directly speak to the job description and relate your skills to the job at hand. While you’re writing and editing your cover letter, keep asking yourself: does this relate to the job description? Avoid going on tangents, or discussing previous experiences that are irrelevant to your ability to smash that new job. An employer will read your cover letter with a critical eye, assessing how relevant it is to the specific role they are hiring for – make it easy for them.
Take a look at your current job title
Use the information from the job description and if your current job title is too generic, add your relevant experience to your job title when you write your CV/cover letter. For example, if you’re applying for the role of “PHP Developer”, and you did a lot of PHP development in your previous job and your official role title was “Web Developer,” you can add more detail to your title to make it more specific and show your skills i.e. “Web Developer (PHP, MySQL, CSS, HTML)”. As long as you have actual experience in that role to justify the added wording, it will be allowable. This will answer your potential employer’s first question: can they do the job?
So there you have it – our top twelve tips to supercharge your CV! To summarise:
· Erase anything generic and keep the content specific to your skill set
· Focus on the most important – how can you help the company?
· Change your tone to suit the tech job listing at hand
Send your CV into Absolute IT and be the first to get contacted when one of our clients uploads a job listing that suits you. Our IT hiring experts can also review your CV to make sure you land that dream job!