If you’re starting out in your tech career, it can be difficult to know how to write a CV that highlights what you bring to the table. However, just because your experience and proven use of technical skills is limited (or even non-existent), that shouldn’t dissuade you from applying.
The digital skills gap we’re seeing means that more companies are taking on applicants who are new to the sector. Here are eight CV-writing tips to help you start your career in tech.
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Your CV needs to quickly grab the reader’s attention as they may have received tens, if not hundreds, of applications for one role! That’s why it’s so important to make your CV easy to digest, with the key skills that the employer is seeking clearly outlined. Divide your CV into clearly defined sections and explore the idea of using boxes/columns to separate them. You don’t want the page to look too “busy”, with the text squashed together or too small to conceivably read.
Not all roles in tech are the same or require the same capabilities. It may sound obvious, but always tailor your CV to the exact role you’re applying for. Recruiters and hiring managers may not progress your application if they feel it is too generic, or it’s written for another company. Understand what skills (especially technical) they’re looking for and incorporate this into your CV.
There may be a number of candidates with the same technical skills as you and, if you’re applying for your first role in tech, there’s a chance that they have more experience than you. By including a profile, you can demonstrate why you are different and give an insight into who you are and why you’ll offer something else.
It can make a massive difference if you take the time to put together a cover letter specific to the role and company. Not only will it demonstrate that you’re willing to make an effort, but it will allow you to go into more detail on the achievements and skills that matter most. Furthermore, just because the role is in tech, that doesn’t mean that technical skills are the only ones that matter, especially if you’re new to the sector. A well-written cover letter can also highlight your soft skills, such as communication, that can compensate for your lack of experience.
Personality goes a long way. Do you have any hobbies around tech? Areas of special interest? Don’t be afraid to highlight these, especially if they are relevant for the role. For example, if you have been part of a coding club, or you have designed an app as a side hustle, then say it! These details are memorable and can really help you to stand out to the reader. Include these in your short profile or cover letter.
Some recruiters like to see a section on your CV highlighting your key strengths and personal skills. This can be a great way to tell a company how you will add value “at a glance”. It can be helpful to include some soft skills to complement the technical ones you’ve developed.
If you haven’t got much professional experience in tech, a great way to build your CV is to take part in short courses that offer badges or certifications. There are plenty of free learning platforms with industry-recognised lessons and certifications out there. As with a cover letter, nothing shows willing better than time invested in learning, so it’s worth finding a course that is relevant to the role and completing it.
Whilst recruiters/hiring managers do want to understand what work experience you have (even if it hasn’t been in tech), avoid simply writing out your previous job descriptions. Instead, showcase what you personally delivered, what the result was and what you learned.
Once you’ve finished writing your CV, ask someone to read it through. Can they easily identify exactly what you were doing on any specific date that is relevant to your profile? For example, what was your role in June 2020? Your CV should be able to tell someone this without them making any extra effort. Everything should be clear to the reader at first glance – if not, change it and simplify.
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Director, Hays Early Careers
Jen has more than a decade of in-house expertise across the Early Careers talent management cycle, including the attraction, selection, development and retention of early careers populations. As both a former Hays customer and in her current role as Director of Early Careers at Hays, she has unique perspective to partner with our clients to develop practical, impactful solutions across the Early Careers landscape.
Director, Hays National Technology - UK&I
Harry Gooding is part of Hays Technology, working across our Enterprise Technology Practice and supporting new initiatives around skills development. After beginning his career in recruitment, he then worked in VC backed start-ups and scale-ups for six years across two different portfolios before joining Hays.