Software Developers – Here’s the Code Behind the Perfect CV

CV tips


Software Developers – Here’s the Code Behind the Perfect CV

As a software dev, you’re in high demand - there’s a skills shortage and salaries are rapidly rising…

There are five jobs for every one software developer

Today the median salary for a developer is an attractive £45,000

There’s a 98% employment rate amongst developers

Feeling confident? Perhaps it would be wise to take a moment to remember that attractive packages with the very best of perks (and top-of-the-range pay packets) will always attract large numbers of the best talent. In short? You need a CV that’s absolutely on-point for that critical foot in the door, regardless as to how in-demand your skills are. So here are seven tips for a super sharp CV.

1. Create a strong structure with bright and bold headings

Your CV should be scannable within 6 seconds and no more. Here’s the format that you should follow for an instantly digestible CV…

  • Name and contact details – Name, address, phone number and email address (and don’t forget your LinkedIn profile)
  • Opening summary – You, in a nutshell – this is an overview of who you are and why you’re the superstar candidate they’re looking for
  • Objective – Need a change of pace? More responsibilities? To be part of a thriving company culture? Tell your prospective employer what you’re looking for
  • Employment history – Your latest, most relevant roles
  • Relevant skills (we’ll dig into these a little later on)
  • Key accomplishments – Be specific and include tangible examples and outcomes

Contractor pro tip: Job role after job role… sometimes it looks less than ideal to have an employment history that looks like a fast-paced succession of jobs. You may look like an employee with no loyalty or, worse still, you might seem unemployable. Make things explicit, explain why you’ve held short-term positions and make any contracting positions obvious.

2. Make sure your summary and objective sections are laser sharp

You probably know what a summary is and have been told (over and over) how critical it is (and if you don’t, a summary is where you succinctly state your strengths and the strategic value you’ll bring to the company. This is also known as a personal statement). You may also have heard that an objective is important (a section that explains your career goal).

Yet for them to be effective, you need to ensure that both of these sections are in their shortest, sharpest forms – there’s no room for waffle here.

Make them relevant to the role in question, and make sure each section runs to no more than two, max three lines.


3. Make a strong distinction between hard skills versus soft skills (but treat them both with the same level of importance) 

“Fluency in Java and C++”, “Experience in Senior Software Development role” + “General background in Windows environments”

All of the above are hard skills, and most would-be interviewees make the fatal mistake of placing plenty of weight on them – with soft skills listed somewhere at the bottom of a CV (if they appear at all, that is).

The employer already knows that applicants should have the skills listed in their advert,  they’re looking for an edge, a defining difference that says “this one’s for the interview pile, not the bin”. Soft skills ultimately describe and define you as a person; good soft skills to include are the ability to:

  • Adapt
  • Communicate effectively
  • Resolve issues in a high-pressure environment
  • Feedback and implement changes for the better

Remember - your recipient is under pressure, they’re working on limited time – stand out, and stand out fast (a good rule of thumb is three minutes’ reading time).

4. Know what NOT to do, as well as what TO do…

Here’s a rapid-fire list of No No’s for your CV. Avoid…

  • Including your date of birth
  • Formatting your CV with oversized spaces
  • Using obscure or hard to read fonts
  • Focusing entirely on yourself (and not your employer)
  • Writing about past responsibilities, rather than results
  • Including everything – going on and on for 2 sides +
  • Including information that could lead to positive discrimination, such as: marital status, ethnicity, nation of origin, age, religion, or sexual orientation
  • Not proofing your CV at least three times over (grammar and spelling errors are a sure-fire track to the bin pile)

5. List your education last

Don’t place too much emphasis on your education unless you’re in the midst of job hunting for your first role. Employers value experience and results far and away above your degree and the name of your university.

6. Go full geek

You love programming, live code - show your passion for the job – work out a way to demonstrate your intelligence. You might discuss your home coding project, talk about your focus on exploring new ideas or list the efforts that you’re involved with for Open Source projects or volunteering.

If you have a working portfolio, GitHub repository or a collection of code, include it – better to show what you can do, rather than merely talk about it.

7.Make it interesting

The majority of web devs have coded a data-driven website or a desktop app. Listing these isn’t going to impress anyone. What will be impressive is detailing experience that’s unique – providing concrete evidence that you amount to more than just a bunch of “Hello World’ work.

This could be writing about the unique pressures you’ve worked under, the constraints you’ve flexed and fit to, the environments that boast masses of transactions or zero tolerance for failure. These things are what make a CV shine – these are examples that illustrate you as different.


Need a fresh set of professional eyes to ensure your CV sparkles, rather than fades into the background? Let’s talk – we offer a free CV review, no strings, no obligations. | +44 117 428 9400


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