Put yourself in the shoes of your friendly neighbourhood recruiter who arrives at his desk bright eyed and bushy tailed at 8:30 one Monday morning to find 150 responses to that advertisement he placed on Friday afternoon for an ITIL Service Delivery Manager. He now has the unenviable task of going through each of those CVs to find the best three to put forward to his client by 5:00pm the same day.
Being only human the first approach is a quick "skim"and the CVs tend to go one of three ways - YES, MAYBE, NO
Your only purpose in submitting your CV is to ensure that your CV goes in the YES column.
Think of your CV in terms of "screens" (not pages) because that's what the recruiter is going to look at when he opens your CV. So you need to be absolutely sure to include the information that will make him say "YES" when he views that first screen.
Please don't write one of those CVs that fill the entire first screen with absolutely useless information. If you write CURRICULUM VITAE in 18 point characters across the top with your name and address on 5 separate lines followed by a lengthy list of your GCSE O and A level results, not to mention your clean driving licence and the fact that you are a non smoker you will have filled the entire first screen without saying anything that will persuade our recruiter to read on.
That CV might go on to say that you are a Guru of the Service Delivery World but unfortunately it's probably already gone into the NO file.
You must place key information about your skills, experience and achievements into the first screen of your CV, otherwise it probably won't get read.
So here are some fundamental rules for writing your CV.
Rule number 1
Do use a clear type face. This is entirely a matter of choice but most serif type faces (like Times New Roman) were designed to look nice on the printed page whereas our expectation is that most recipients will now be reading your CV on a computer screen. So the rule is to keep your typeface nice and clear. My recommendation would be Arial or Helvetica.
Rule number 2
Don't waste 5 separate lines writing your name and address. You can start off with your name in about a 14 point followed by your address and contact details including your e-mail address in 8 point on the next 2 lines. Only use two lines for your address and contact details, you can't afford to waste this valuable space.
Rule number 3
Following your name and contact details the next item should be your PROFILE.
This is the single most important part of your CV.
You need to write a very concise profile of who you are and what you do. I suggest you use no more than six lines and this "body text" should ideally be in 10 point. This profile is most likely to be what the recruiter reads straightaway. If it doesn't match his job requirement he's going to put you in the "NO" folder.
So you must try to tailor the profile to the specific job that you are applying for. Remember our recruiter is looking for key words from his job spec.
Let's assume that, in part, his job spec (and the job advertisement) is asking for:
ITIL Certification -Strong Team Management -Strong experience of Service Delivery Management -Strong track record of Financial Services
Your PROFILE needs to reflect at least this experience. For example:
A highly skilled Service Delivery Manager with the ITIL Service Management Expert Certification. Fully conversant with the latest IT innovations, delivering solutions which utilise cutting-edge technologies. Currently managing a team of ten and with a strong track record of success in the Financial Services Sector. This experience is complimented by strong analytical, problem solving and communication skills.
That profile will almost certainly encourage our Recruiter to read on and will probably get that candidate short-listed for the Service Delivery Manager role.
Remember the first "screen" of the first page of your CV is what really counts. It's all the recruiter is going to look at initially and he's probably only going to look for about 10 seconds. I strongly recommend that you tailor this Profile to each specific job application. I'm not suggesting that you distort your experience and I'm assuming that you wouldn't be applying for the job unless you have the basic skills required, but you do need to ensure that the contents of your Profile reflect the requirements of the particular job you are applying for. What you are doing is making the recruiter's job as easy as possible. Make sure you give him what he's looking for!
Now let's move on down the first page of your CV. Following your PROFILE you need to add roughly five Key Achievements that provide evidence to support the Profile you have written. These need to be impressive and I would suggest that you write them cliche free. Instead they need to be solid achievements that are relevant to the role that you are applying for and that will be meaningful to your potential employer.
Selecting these key achievements is really important and will also get you thinking about what you have really achieved in your career and more importantly what will get you that interview.
Ideally you should have a "library" of at least 10 key achievements and place the five that you feel are most appropriate in the list for each job application. These key achievements will also provide useful ammunition for questions at interview.
The next important section should be a matrix of your technical skills. I would recommend grouping these by category. (eg. Operating Systems, Development Tools, RDBMS etc.)
From this point on you can start to list your jobs. Don't use obscure job titles that are unique to your organisation but will be meaningless to other employers. My advice would be to modify job titles so that they are clearly understandable and indicate exactly what you did in the job.
Make sure that you list five or six key achievements for each job and of course you can include your full "library" of Key Achievements used earlier in the CV.
Always state clearly why you left each job and make sure that that you account for the whole of your career and that there are no blank periods. If you took a 6 month planned career break to renovate your house then say so, don't leave a blank.
The final part of your CV should include your Education and Professional Training and your Personal Details which should include your Nationality. If you are not a British or an EU Citizen then you need to indicate on what basis you are able to work in the UK.
Remember that you do not need to include your date of birth. Because of the Age Discrimination Act recruiters should not ask for your age, although bear in mind that employers are entitled to know your date of birth at the time they offer you a position.
In some respects these guidelines are written for a very conventional CV and of course there are lots of opportunities for innovation and development in this area. For example you might want to place your CV on your personal web site or social networking site and include graphics, video clips etc. however what you have here is a basic working CV that will get you interviews with the majority of recruiters / employers in the UK and that should be your objective.
It's over to you!
For many years the most dynamic and cutting-edge IT roles have traditionally been seen as the sole territory of the private sector, yet on closer inspection there are some mouth-watering opportunities available if you choose to go public.
Just as many private companies aim to maximise productivity and efficiency, the same rings true in the public sector, with IT playing a central role in achieving and delivering those goals. Several large-scale projects with a significant IT presence will be launching over the next few years, which in turn may swell the opportunities open to IT workers looking to delve into the world of the public sector. The government's £1.2bn investment in the e-borders initiative as well as numerous opportunities arising from the London 2012 Olympics are just some examples of where both permanent and contract work will be available over the coming years.
If you're thinking of making the move from private through to public then there will be numerous differences to take into consideration. For example, in the private sector when there's a problem, there's often a tendency to throw money at it until a solution is found. Public sector IT is largely governed by strict budgets, which are set annually and fixed, its important to consider some of the experience you have developed in managing budgets in the past and apply them in your future role. What's more, salary and career progression could be a little slower off the mark in the public sector as the variety and scope of opportunities is slightly more limited. However, what you get in return is a chance to be part of some dynamic upcoming IT projects, job security, peace of mind, good holiday entitlement and an excellent pension. All in all, definitely worthy of your consideration!
Last week Sun launched JavaFX, its Java-based platform for Rich Internet Applications. Sun picked up the high level of interest in Adobe's Flash as an application runtime, and perhaps Microsoft's Silverlight as well, and hurriedly developed its own equivalent. JavaFX is a new scripting language that runs on the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) and is optimized for graphical effects and multimedia. It brings to Java animation features like timelines and motion paths, support for a variety of audio and video codecs, and a way of coding a graphical user interface without the supposed complexities of Swing with its Model/View/Controller (MVC) design. JavaFX applets can run within or outside the browser. One innovation is that you can drag an applet out of a web page and onto your desktop. If you close the browser, the applet keeps running, thanks to support for out-of-process plugins in Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox.
So far JavaFX has received a mixed reception, and it is easy to see why. The launch was rushed, and some early visitors to the site had a bad experience, with videos that would not play or samples that did not run. Videos running in JavaFX flash unpleasantly if you resize the browser. The install experience is not as smooth as for Flash or Silverlight in my experience, because you need to install the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) as well as the JavaFX plugin. The download size is larger, although this is disguised by Sun's slimmed-down initial install. The idea is that you get up and running quickly, while the rest of the JRE installs in the background. The SDK does not yet run on Linux or Solaris, although the applets themselves should run because they only require the standard JRE plus a runtime jar (add-on library) and can be executed using Java Web Start. The latest NetBeans has JavaFX support, but another downer is the lack of any dedicated visual design tools. Sun only offers an export add-on for Adobe's Photoshop and Illustrator, or a converter for SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics). There is no 3D API yet, though it is promised.
It is easy to be negative; but some of these problems will disappear as JavaFX matures. A visual design tool is in the works, as is a mobile version that will be shown at the Mobile World conference in February next year. JavaFX will have a place for Java developers who are envious of what Flash and Silverlight can do. While it may not match Flash in terms of broad runtime deployment, I'm guessing that Sun will outpace Microsoft in this respect. JavaFX also has a couple of advantages over Flash, including more sophisticated client-side security and better code performance in some scenarios. The Java VM is mature and well optimized. Adobe's ActionScript virtual machine does have a just-in-time compiler, but seems slower than either Silverlight or Java for code execution. Speed of graphical effects is another matter, and while I have not seen any comparisons yet, I suspect Adobe's long multimedia experience may come into play here.
JavaFX will be welcomed then by Java developers who need more expressive graphics in their applications, and will be an interesting option for those developing games for mobile devices. Try as I might though, I'm finding it hard to believe that this is a huge section of the market, or that Sun will have much success persuading designers to target JavaFX rather than Flash, or that JavaFX will win much market share from Adobe for web-hosted video. Swing works well these days, its MVC architecture has merit, and it is well-suited to the kinds of Enterprise applications which commonly have Java clients. JavaFX is a useful addition to Java, but I doubt that Adobe is losing sleep over its likely impact. That said, I'm keen to hear from developers with plans for JavaFX applications, so don't hesitate to let me know.
The relationship between employer and candidate has often been seen as a one-way street, with that often-dreaded interview question "why do you want to work here?" spring to mind. However more and more, its the employers themselves who are being asked the tough questions. Following a recent BCS report on how better company cultures would attract more women back into the profession; how much do we look into the company we are applying to?
In the current job market, although many people searching for a new role will be keen to make a swift move back into work, the ways in which people make employment decisions is showing signs of change. For many IT workers, company culture is still high on the job-hunting agenda. Similar to the BCS findings, Computer People's Salary Survey conducted earlier in the year also suggested how the culture of an organisation is key to a happy and contented workforce.
Some 70% of those questioned placed high importance on the quality of their working environment and culture. Many also saw the culture of a company to be a deal breaker in their choice to apply for a position or not. Findings such as these highlight the shifting onus on companies of all sizes to sell themselves to the candidate rather than vice versa.
A key part of this process involves alerting all potential candidates, male or female, to what your company offers over and above a paycheque. From offering flexible working hours or childcare facilities to regular company-wide social activities or duvet days and sabbaticals, employers that offer the best mix of work and play will be the ones attracting and retaining the best candidates.