Some advice on CVs

As a lead developer part of my job is to review CVs for developers that we are potentially going to hire. There are, however, some people that I think do put the most inappropriate things on their CV. I’m not talking about the really obviously inappropriate stuff like admitting you won some competition in an Ibiza nightclub on an 18-30 holiday, I’ve not seen anything a salacious as that. I’m talking about the inappropriate things that sound like they should probably be on a CV.

There have been various reports in the media recently about identity theft and CVs. And yet, I still get emails from people with all sorts of personal information in them. I imagine that recruitment agents get even more than I do. But, if you are sending off your CV can you really be sure that you are sending it to a legitimate source?

There is nothing stopping an identity thief setting themselves up as a fake company and posting job adverts. With a website and a number of job adverts posted around an identity thief could receive hundreds of CVs all containing some very personal information.

Recently I’ve received CVs containing details such as Date of Birth, Address, various government Identifiers (National Insurance numbers, driving license, SSN, Passport numbers, etc.), marital status and so on. Enough for someone to steal the candidate’s identity.

In the UK we have various bits of legislation that mean we are not permitted to discriminate on grounds of age, gender, martial status, race, etc. There is therefore no need to put any of that information on your CV. In fact, some hiring managers might dismiss your CV immediately if it includes information like that because they don’t want to be seen to discriminate in that area.

So what sort of information should you put on the CV?

First, this is obviously just my opinion and some of it is limited to software development roles.

I’m interested in your experience, if you have less than 5 years experience as a developer telling me about any formal education is also useful. After 5 years just some one-liners about your formal education will be sufficient. If you did a computing/computer science/software engineering degree then give some information about your final year project (and the vast majority of university course do) then give some information about that. Obviously, if your final year project was a bit vacuous then you might want to hide it.

Any recent training is also useful, and I do mean recent. If it is older than about 36 months then leave it out. Also, it needs to be relevant. Telling me about the evening classes you took in pottery last year may be interesting to you, but it has nothing to do with software development so leave it out, or move it to your hobbies section.

If you have won any worthwhile awards or if you do volunteer work put that in too. If you have given any presentations at conferences or user groups, written any articles, maintain a blog or personal website then put these things in. If you run a web site that is less than employer friendly then make sure you do that under a pseudonym that can’t be tracked back to you, it might hurt your chances, remember that includes your WHOIS entry.

External hobbies and interests can be useful on a CV, and other people think they are a waste of space. I like to see what other things you are interested in, but I’m not going to be too fussed if you don’t include it.

Finally, make sure that you actually include contact information. Just your name, email and phone number is good enough at this stage.

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