The 5 Do’s and 10,000 Don’ts of CV Writing

Disclaimer: there isn’t really 10,000 don’ts, in fact there is only one. But it is pretty darn important. I’ve written and read enough CV’s to have a pretty good idea what constitutes a good CV and what constitutes good bin liner and so I thought I’d share my thoughts. Let’s start with the Do’s:


  1. Keep It Pithy: I’ve had to read many CV’s in my time, and nothing is more off putting than a CV that is longer than Milton’s Paradise Lost. Remember, the hiring manager will have a pile of CV’s and perhaps will dedicate all of 5 minutes in deciding who makes the initial shortlist and whose to bin, so help them make a quick decision by keeping your CV short. The optimal length of a CV should be no more than a page, or 2 pages if you have to. But no one is going to care that 20 years ago you worked on a Saturday washing cars. You may have a great job history, but try not to go back too far. And the older the job, the less detail you need to put in. This still gives you a chance to shows something you’re really proud of in an old role without going into too much detail.
  2. Keep it Pertinent: You need to keep in mind that no 2 jobs are the same yet chances are you will apply for these different roles with the same CV. So you need to focus on the profession you’re applying for. If you’re applying for a job that is a DBA, keep that as your focus as you write it. The hiring manager is not going to care if your hobbies are going out with your friends and taking long walks on the beach. Cutting out the fraff like this will also help keep it short. You don’t want your CV to be the next Voynich Manuscript .
  3. Keep it Presentable: So you’ve got to keep it pithy and pertinent, yet you also need to keep it clear. So this is where most people who do keep it short and pertinent may fail in trying to cram everything in. Consider your font type: using something like Calibri over Arial or Verdana. By all means keep the margins narrow, but don’t over do it. Use bullet points as opposed to full sentences. Brevity is the key. If you want to draw the managers attention to something, highlight a word or two in bold. And use spell and grammar check! Despite technologies best efforts, I write with many typos, because I am lazy when it comes to typing. Rather embarrassingly, as a DBA, I still misspell “FROM as “FORM”, yet spell check will not pick this up. So get someone to proof read it. This is different from critiquing your CV: just make sure the sentences make sense and that there’s no daft typos.
  4. Show The Value: the benefits of certain technologies that you know about may not immediately present their benefit to the hiring manager, so you need to demonstrate that you understand the business value of your expertise. Listing technologies shows nothing other than you know how to write a list of technologies. You know how to write PowerShell modules… great. Who cares? You wrote a series of PowerShell modules that transferred backup files over a dodgy FTP connection and would retry any failed transfers so that no one had to log in over the weekend and check the progress of transfers? OK, that sounds much better.
  5. Plan and Prepare: there’s a military adage called the 7 P’s . Mild expletive aside, it’s important to take the time to write your CV and give it the attention it deserves. Your CV is the first impression that hiring managers have of you. If you just bash out some bullet points and don’t put the effort into applying the four points above, your putting out the impression that you aren’t really that serious about looking for a new job, so why should the hiring manager be serious about calling you in for an interview?

Continue reading “The 5 Do’s and 10,000 Don’ts of CV Writing”

New Year Musings

Hello! And Happy New Year!

I’ve spent much of the past month off work looking after my daughter whilst my wife is at work. It seems that while this time of year is quiet for me at the office, in the NHS its the busiest period of the year. So it has been great to spend time with Phoebe at home, which has resembled a building site since the end of October. Indeed, as I work from home I have had to move the computer from into 5 different times whilst work was completed. During that time I’ve learnt more things about plumbing than I’ve ever wanted to know, and surprised myself when I kept a remarkably cool head when I noticed water leaking out the ceiling (from the room I had just removed the radiator from successfully (I thought) and whose pipes I had capped) into our living room. And here is some advice which is as unrelated to technology as you’ll ever read on this site, but invaluable nonetheless: try not to reuse caps to cap off radiator pipes, as you have to turn them so tight they tend to break up when you try to use them again. Which is exactly what I had done. I thought they were screwed on well enough until I turned the heating on and water got flowing around the system, which was when the water started to leak out of the busted cap. Fortunately for me no damage was done and I was able to drain the entire heating system, which unfortunately coincided with us living without heating during the coldest days of 2014, until the plastering was done. It’s all part of us paying our dues until the house is done. Currently we are without a shower/bath, though mercifully we are not far away from friends who are kind enough to let us use their bathroom. Continue reading “New Year Musings”

What I Talk About When I Talk About Blogging

This post has nearly been a year in the making. When I hit the 100 post mark, which was roughly a year into writing this blog, I wanted to share some of my thoughts about blogging and what it meant to me and how someone can start up a blog and still be actively posting a year later. But I decided not to, as I felt a year and 100 posts was not nearly enough time to post anything with any real authority. But 1 year and 100 posts later I still wanted to share my thoughts on blogging. If for nothing else, it’ll be interesting to read this post in 2/3/4 years time and see just how much of what I wrote I still agree with. This post is not definitive; rather, it’s like viewing a junk shop; I’m sure there’ll be something for someone to take home from this collection of thoughts. Continue reading “What I Talk About When I Talk About Blogging”

Paid In Full

Before I get into what exactly it is that I have paid in full, let’s have Eric B and Rakim drop a beat for you this morning:

So, that it’s then, my student debt is paid off! A mere 7 years after leaving university, I have fulfilled my side of the deal. I was going to write a large piece about the state of education today, but I think I’ll just put a link to a sobering news story on the BBC website about the state of the student loan system in the UK.

I Resent Your Email


I remember a story one of my old bosses told me, she sent out an email to her team and some peers about a new process, and just before she was about to go home she noticed a response from her peers was “I resent your email”! This angered my boss, so she fired off a diatribe to her colleague, telling him what she really thought of him and “how dare he respond in such a way” etc. Having sent the email she left the office and drove home, still dwelling on what in her original email was so controversial that it would cause feelings of resentment. It wasn’t much later did she realise that the person meant “I re-sent your email”.

This teaches us (apart from always use proper grammar when writing emails!) to never respond to an email that got you angry whilst you’re still angry. Whether the email was sent to annoy you or not, all you’ll do is assist in de-railing the conversation. Behaving like the keyboard warrior may be a cathartic release, but it’s not going to resolve the issue. If you must, write the email you WANT to send, then delete that one and write the email you NEED to send to get the conversation back on track. You’re the professional one here.

Firefox OS First Impressions

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks using the ZTE Open, which runs the fledgling Firefox OS, as my main phone. The phone came with version 1.0.1 installed, so not long after I got it I built an Ubuntu VM and flashed my phone to run 1.3. The improvements were noticeable immediately; the screen was far zippier, the keyboard was better laid out, and I was able to use push notifications. The ZTE Open really is an entry level phone, and I’ve read plenty of negative reviews w/r/t it’s specs, but for £60 I think it’s pretty good. Don’t get me wrong, it can’t handle multi-tasking very well, and sometimes apps take a little too long to open, but for what it is, it’s good. Continue reading “Firefox OS First Impressions”

Delusions of Testing


I love Christmas, and I love Christmas films. One of my favourites is “Elf” with Will Ferrell. I know that the world and his wife have seen it, but for those of you that live in caves and cannot be bothered to check it out on IMDB: The plot revolves around Will Ferrell’s character Buddy coming to terms with the fact that he is not an Elf, but is in fact a human adopted by his Elfish father, played brilliantly by Bob Newhart, and goes on a journey in New York at Christmas time to find his biological dad.

Prior to him discovering he is human, Buddy’s apparent incompetence in the toy-making department sees him transferred from there to the testing department, where the “special” elves go. And this I always felt was a good analogy to how the relationship between testers and developers is seen in the IT Industry. Continue reading “Delusions of Testing”

My Two Cents: Goodbye Nokia

Last week Nokia were purchased by Microsoft for something in the region of $5 billion (shocking how vague the figures are when the number is THAT big). For me this was a momentous occasion, as since 1999 I have owned nothing but Nokia’s, save for 18 months on an iPhone, which I traded in for another Nokia. I’m a big Nokia fan and the news that there will be no more Nokia mobiles (at least until 2016) is a massive disappointment.

A lot more has been said far more eloquently by others, however it would be remiss of me not feel a moments sadness of the passing of a company whose products I appreciated so much that they were the sole companies graduate scheme that I applied for. They were innovators, from Xpress on covers to 41 megapixel cameras to awesome QWERTY keyboards… if you look at the specs the iPhone of today is the Nokia of 5 years ago. That’s how good they were. Had they chosen Android over Windows Phone, or stuck with the award winning Meego phone, who knows how different things would be now?

Sadly, somewhere in the last 5 years, Nokia lost its identity, and it’s a shame that rather than go find it, the people in charge decided to sell what they had left to Microsoft, who will remove the name and make billions off of all the patents that those pioneers of mobile technology innovated. There does appear to be plenty of rumours that Nokia will rise again using Sailfish or Android …Nokia Phoenix maybe…(and there’s even a Newkia), but for now all I have is the hope that Nokia will return one day to again live in my pocket.