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gretty

Your Opinion of Software Dev Resume assertion

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Hi, I recently applied for a job and there was an option to get a free CV/Resume assessment/advice done so I said what the heck I'll try it. I got a response back and it's made some assertions that I'm not quite sure are relevant to Software Developer/Engineer's CV's (I'm thinking more so to sales, business, etc. CV's) so I wanted to get other dev's opinions on its assertions. *I'm aware/of the opinion that these assessments most likely contain 'cookie-cutter' paragraphs and are not individually assessed with much seriousness so I should maybe take the critique's not too seriously.

 

Do you agree with their assertion that Software Dev/Engineer CV's should mention/focus on results/achievements rather than (what I believe to be the technical) tasks and duties?

 

 

From the way the CV is worded, you come across as a "doer," as opposed to an "achiever." Too many of your job descriptions are task-based rather than results-based. This means that they tell what you did rather than what you achieved. This is a common mistake for non-professional CV writers. To be effective and create excitement, a strong CV helps the hiring executive envisage you delivering similar achievements at his or her company. Here are some examples of task-based sentences in your CV:

"Develop CAD software solutions for Civil Engineering companies"
"Worked remotely, communicated via email updates with regular in-house & virtual meetings"

Full assessment:

...This free CV evaluation is intended to give you an honest, straightforward assessment with some suggestions to help in your job search. I personally review hundreds of CVs each month so I'm able to provide insight into how you compare to other job seekers competing for the same positions.

Visual Presentation and Organisation

We’ve all been told that appearances do not matter as much as substance, but in the case of your CV this just isn’t true. I found your design to be visually uneven. The appearance is not polished, and it doesn’t say "high potential" as your experience suggests. You must remember that your CV is your marketing tool. It is the first impression a potential employer has of you.

CV Writing

Your CV has an objective statement instead of a career summary. Objectives are primary for recent graduates or individuals who are just starting their careers. A career summary is a critical element of your CV and it should be designed to compel the hiring manager to continue reading. The purpose of this section is to define you as a professional and highlight areas that are most relevant to both your career level and job target.

From the way the CV is worded, you come across as a "doer," as opposed to an "achiever." Too many of your job descriptions are task-based rather than results-based. This means that they tell what you did rather than what you achieved. This is a common mistake for non-professional CV writers. To be effective and create excitement, a strong CV helps the hiring executive envisage you delivering similar achievements at his or her company. Here are some examples of task-based sentences in your CV:

"Develop CAD software solutions for Civil Engineering companies"
"Worked remotely, communicated via email updates with regular in-house & virtual meetings"

Employers want to know about your previous contributions and more specifically, how you made a difference at your last position. More importantly, they want to know how you are going to make a significant difference at their company.

When I read your CV, I did not find the kind of compelling language that would bring your work to life. Instead, I saw many passive words and non-action verbs. Phrases like “develop” and “provided” are overused, monotonous, and add little value to your CV. Strong action verbs, used with compelling language are what's needed to outline exemplary achievements. Now, let’s put it all together. Here’s a real life example taken from a former client’s CV. By changing the language, we helped to improve the perception of the candidate.

  • Passive language / Doing: Negotiated contracts with vendors
  • Action language / Achieving: Slashed payroll/benefits administration costs 30% by negotiating pricing and fees, while ensuring the continuation and enhancements of services.

A change like this makes a dramatic improvement.

It may not seem obvious, but a regular review of every word and sentence in your CV is a good idea. Hiring managers are looking for an excuse to eliminate you as a candidate. You may not be able to see awkward phrases and grammatical errors if you've already spent a lot of time with your own CV.

 

Edited by gretty

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Moving to Job Advice.


Assuming the excerpts are from your actual resume, I'd tend to agree that the wording is boring and flat. It probably wouldn't influence my opinion of your abilities much, but every little bit helps - lots of people read these things before they wind up in the hands of an engineering manager.

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It can be harder sometimes for the people in the trenches to directly tie their work to business impacts, but you should try to tie your contributions to some kind of measurable impact as much as you reasonably can, and try to use more-dynamic, less-passive language even where you list tasks.

Why, in the grand scheme of things, was the work important or helpful? Did it increase performance? Strengthen network security? Improve your team's productivity? Did you replace old, buggy code with something simpler and more nimble?

Try to think less in terms of what you did for your manager, and more in terms of how what you did improved your team's workflow, your product,or the bottom line.

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Do you agree with their assertion that Software Dev/Engineer CV's should mention/focus on results/achievements rather than (what I believe to be the technical) tasks and duties?

I agree with the advice that you got from the service. It's about showing how good you are and the outcome of the work versus that work itself.

 

There's similar advice from someone who is also a software engineer and also screens resumes for companies that she has worked for: http://niniane.org/resume_howto.html 

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To be honest, I find the self-aggrandizing nature of statements like "Slashed payroll/benefits administration costs 30%" very offputting and would count that against a candidate. This is probably (a) because I hire people to perform tasks, not 'make a difference', and (b) I'm British, and we don't talk like that unless we're auditioning for The Apprentice. (Or, less flippantly, for sales, marketing, or management roles.) It's mostly bullshit. It's not realistic for every candidate to have been able to significantly improve every company they work at in a measurable way.

 

That's not to say you can't improve things. Focus on the more unusual and impressive tasks. "Develop CAD software solutions for Civil Engineering companies" and "Worked remotely, communicated via email updates with regular in-house & virtual meetings" don't give us anything useful. Everyone writes email and sit in meetings. Focus on the important stuff.

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Not British, but I so find most of those to be useless. I want to see what you have built, not the results of what you built. This is different from places where humanities are the primary focus, where social improvements are more important. Also, "slashed payroll by 30%" is a bad thing, you fired 1/3 of the staff. :-)

Their generic advice is still correct, "Employers want to know about your previous contributions and more specifically, how you made a difference at your last position. More importantly, they want to know how you are going to make a significant difference at their company."

In software development, that means things you built. Built a pathfinder, built a raytracer, built an interchangeable weapons system, built a game's battle system, created a networked gameplay system, built an award-winning game. For students it also means subjects you studied; data structures and algorithms are commonplace, study of networking, study of graphics, study of math subjects, study of other topics that relate to game development.

I don't care so much about improving performance of random code by 70% unless that code is something major; perhaps something that is major and big like improving Unreal Engine 4 by 70% after finding something in their code.

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I also agree. I read quite a view resumes every week and all I do is look for achievements and what problems you solved. If there will be a follow-up phone screen we usually take someone with expertise in that field and he will ask about problems you discovered and how you solved them. 

 

"Develop CAD software solutions for Civil Engineering companies"

 

What does this even mean? Did you write FEM solvers for constructional analysis? Did you you work on the UI? If you want to get attention you need to tell what specific problems you solved.

Edited by Dirk Gregorius

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From the way the CV is worded, you come across as a "doer," as opposed to an "achiever."
This sounds a lot like a cultural difference between USA and Europe I read about.

 

In Europe, you tell what you did (I made great system XYZ). In USA, you tell what you can do for your boss (You want to hire me because I can solve your XYZ problem).

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