Three things women in tech want to see on your CV

Holly Brockwell
clock • 6 min read

And three things they don't, writes Holly Brockwell

Applying for a job is nerve-wracking, even for the most experienced of us (hi Imposter Syndrome, how've you been?).

It always helps to have an idea of what the hiring manager is looking for, so we thought we'd ask some illustrious women in tech what they do and don't want to see when your CV hits their inbox.

As ever, they provided some excellent guidelines:

DO: prove you meet the job spec

This has to be done per-job, which is of course more time-consuming than spamming your CV and covering letter to lots of vacancies, but you should be creating separate applications anyway. It's better to send tailored apps to fewer jobs than generic ones to lots, so if you've got limited time, choose the jobs you like best and send amazing applications they can't ignore.

Jessica Rose - founder of Open Code and co-founder of Trans*Code - says she likes to see "clear points that relate directly to points in the job spec." Those requirements are there for a reason, so go through them and work out how you meet each one, then weave it into your covering letter. Don't be too obvious about it - you don't need to say "the job spec says this, and I do this" - just make sure you've covered off the main points.

A lead developer adds, "I like to see that the applicant has read all the essential & desired skills in the person spec and has done their best to demonstrate each. Makes it really easy to show they need to be interviewed."

And you do, right?

DON'T: include a photo

This one came up several times. In some parts of the world, it's customary to add a photo of yourself to your CV or application. Besides the fact that this is an obvious avenue for discrimination (conscious or not), it comes across really weirdly.

As one hiring manager put it, "I don't need to know your face features for the job - skills and experience are what I look for in a CV."

DO: explain why you want this job specifically

OK, in the real world, you've just been laid off and need to find somewhere else ASAP. While you're obviously not going to tell the hiring manager that, you might inadvertently imply it by the way you write your application. And that might lead to someone else getting the job.

VP of People at NEXT, Lyndal Larkin, advises "taking an extra moment to customise your mission statement or objective to the role you're applying to," because "this demonstrates a sincere interest in the company, rather than blindly sending resumes for every available position." Which you might well be doing, but you don't want them to know that.

Jessica Rose adds that she wants to see "specific mention of why they think they're a good fit for this role," because while you might think it's obvious why you'd want to work at Amazon, they don't. So make sure you explain.

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