by Niall Joe Maher
How to write a better CV— the Web Developer edition
I have met plenty of very talented engineers over the years who struggle to get called into interviews directly due to an unprofessional, sloppy or unfocused CV. I know when I started applying to jobs this was something I struggled with. So I’m hoping now that I have been on all sides of the interview process I can help other engineers get over the first hurdle.
Skip to the end for a free CV template!
Let’s first break it down section by section.
The header should include your name, contact details and a link to your GitHub — and if you have one, your personal website. It should also include a title matching the role you are applying for. I also like to include some bullet points of skills tailored for the role. For example, if you are applying for a Frontend role you should have something like:
Github — Website
The intro should be brief and professional. It should be less of an introduction and more of a headline, a teaser that makes the reader feel like it’s worth reading on. You are better off having a single focused sentence here than rambling about how “enthusiastic” you are.
A senior engineer with over 6 years experience in software development. Experienced in leading teams, mentoring engineers and software architecture.
Again sticking to the theme of being relevant, add a section about all of your relevant technical skills to the role. So for a frontend role, this might be suitable:
Experience / Job History
If you are just looking for your first job, this section is always the most terrifying because you probably feel like you don’t have much worth mentioning. John Sonmez has a great video to help you get started with “no experience” or how you should build your experience section.
But for the rest of you…
This should be brief, focused and include relevant bullet points. It should follow a structure of — Company name, your job title, the date you started/finished and then a summary of the role finishing with bullet points with the technical skills you used in the role.
Fake Company 1 2012 — Present
It was my responsibility to develop the online systems within Fake Company 1. This included management of the company’s cloud solution and involvement in the entire development lifecycle of their product. Etc…
- It was my responsibility to manage the design and development of all aspects of the company’s IT systems. This included managing the overall operation of the IT systems and software.
- Team Size
- Technologies used
- Continue on in this way.
Do this for each of your relevant roles and it’s an easy, digestible format for the reader.
Education and Training
For a lot of companies, education or at least some technical coursework will be important to show that you are a capable learner. Although a degree is not always required for a role, you should definitely be including at the bare minimum some of the online courses and tutorials you have finished.
2004–2005 Fake University of Ireland: Degree in Computer Science
2001–2004 Fake University of Ireland: Masters in Computer Science
Technical Courses Completed:
2002–2003 Udemy Course Java Course 1
2000–2001 Java College Java Course 2
1999–2000 Code Academy Java Course 3
Most companies will also like to see that you are not just a one-dimensional coding robot, as it can also help with conversation starters in an interview. You can also throw in a little more about how you are staying up to date. For example, I always include a MeetUp I’m a member of, a sporty hobby and a nerdy hobby. Be creative here, you can grab someone’s attention with an odd hobby.
- Member of code for Ireland
- Fitness Enthusiast: Regularly attend the gym
- Computer Games
I don’t usually include references on the end of my CV but do include a “References available upon request”. If you have references from jobs (not your current role) it would be helpful to include them here as it might speed up the hiring process. Usually, references are used after a candidate has progressed through all of the stages of the interview.
Brief and to the point
Every section of your CV should be kept relevant and as brief as possible to show how you add value. You don’t need to have flowery language skills, you want to show your technical and interpersonal competencies as clearly as possible.
Keep it up to date
I like to come back to my CV and keep it updated every few months. Sometimes an unexpected opportunity might come knocking and it’s good to be prepared. It’s also a nice way to track your experience so you know you are always constructively building on to your CV.
Use a template
Job sites like Monster offer some great CV templates, and I think you should be using some sort of template to aid you so you don’t lose hours on formatting pointlessly. They are also great as guidelines for what to include to keep you on track. Your choice of font and layout are key to making sure a would-be employer carries on reading your CV. Simple formats work best. I have attached my own template for you to use and abuse here.
Check and check again
Avoid errors at all costs. You might think you made no mistakes but you probably did somewhere. Check for date conflicts, make sure your email, phone number and links all work and are correct. Ask a friend proofread your CV when you think it is done. You should also be using tools like Grammarly to make your life a little easier.
It should go without saying but… use your spell check.
Now go forth and smite those job interviews!
Grab your free CV template here.
If this helped or you have any improvements, please add some comments below ❤️