My employer is currently looking for a contract tester. They have advertised through a recruitment agency and also on Seek directly. I’ve been asked to help sift through the mountain of CVs and establish a shortlist of three candidates.
Having just recently changed jobs, it’s an interesting experience to now be at the other end of the job application process.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned:
- We do not have the time or resources to interview or phone every applicant. We barely have the time to read each CV cover to cover. Applications are cold-heartedly eliminated based solely on what’s stated in the CV. It’s not personal. In amidst 60 other applications, a brief concise bulleted summary will stand out over rambling paragraphs supposedly demonstrating your grasp of the English language.
- Please include a technical summary on the front page. For example:
Programming Laguages: C, C++, Java, Perl, Python
Test Tools: Test Director, LoadRunner
Dev Tools: BugZilla, Jira, SVN, CVS, VSS, Visual Studio
Databases: SQL Server 2005/8, Oracle 8i, MySQL
Technical skills should be relevant to the job you are applying for. If the job description is for a web-based tester, then I’m not interested in your extensive experience with printed circuit board design.
- Unless you are applying for a Unix-related job, don’t list operating systems. I really don’t care whether you have had experience with Windows Me/95/98/2000. Unless you have been raised by the great RMS himself, I think it’s safe to assume you’ve used Windows at some stage in your life, particularly if you’ve also included VSS, SQL Server, and Visual Studio in your skill set.
Stating operating system experience is only applicable if the job description specifically requires a familiarity with Unix/Mac OS, and then by all means list what distributions you have worked with.
- Proof read your skill set. When I see:
I am proficient in the following operating systems
- Windows 95/2000
- SQL Server
I will either assume you are an idiot, or just careless. Either way you’re not making it past the first elimination round. The last time I checked SQL Server 2008 hadn’t been released with a multi-tasking kernel.
- Provide a brief employment history on the front page. But please do elaborate on employment history, positions held, and work done in the later pages.
- Unexplained absences in employment history are judged harshly. If you went on a nine month holiday, sought spiritual enlightenment in Kathmandu, or whatever, please state this. Otherwise it just looks like you are hiding something.
- Include a one line summary of your interests and hobbies. I’ve always been against this myself, reasoning it’s nobody’s business what I do in my own time. However, amongst 37 sterile CVs, the candidate who on the first page lists their hobbies as ‘tramping, photography, tennis, and tae kwon do’, has just built up an instant rapport with me.
- Adjust your CV for the role you are applying for. If you are applying for a ‘tester’ position, but your employment history states you have worked as a project manager, test manager, and QA manager, you are either over-inflating your work history, or lost your previous jobs due to incompetence and are now desperate for another. On the off chance that you are undertaking a career change, please explain this at the top of your CV.
- Reference checks are useless. Seriously, I’m not going to phone up someone in Cyprus, who for all I know could be your uncle, to validate your position there. However, the NZ IT industry is pretty small. Most of us can be linked to any other IT company here through maybe one, or two degrees of separation. So, if you have an NZ work history, and state you have worked for Vodafone, ASB, Telecom, Datacom, Symantec, etc, I will be making a few calls/emails/instant messages…
- Try and apply for the job directly. If you see the job advertised via a recruitment agency, check to see if the same job is not advertised directly by the company. A recruitment agent commands a 15-20% finder’s fee of the salary or value of the contract. Going through a recruitment agent will put you at a significant disadvantage if that employer also happens to be advertising independently.