Are you a tech talent on the hunt for your next career move? One of the most important steps in the job search process is crafting an impressive resume that will help you stand out from other candidates - and get you past the desk rejection.
Today, we from Rockstar Recruiting AG (www.rockstar.jobs) give you tips and tricks for writing a winning resume that will get you noticed by top-notch tech companies in Switzerland, Germany - and beyond.
We have seen resumes from thousands of developers, data scientists, CTOs, etc over the past years & want to give you some recommendations for you on how to write the perfect resume. So, let's get to it.
Design & Visuals + Content >> Form
There are thousands of tips on what a resume should look like. Various providers lure with colourful templates, sometimes for expensive money. Their promise: If a resume stands out visually from the crowd, you have the best chances. Today, we offer you this easy-to-follow, totally-for-free & no strings attached walkthrough towards designing the perfect CV for your next application in tech.
But who has the better chances: Applicant A with the "eye-catching" resume full of colors, icons and shapes? Or applicant B with the "boring" resume, but whose content offers exactly what is wanted for the job? It may not be surprising: Applicant B will receive the invitation to the job interview. And if both applicants had "eye-catching" resumes, the one with the more appropriate content would still get the nod.
Conclusion: Content wins over form. Always. Your resume has only one purpose: It must open the door to the job interview. Hence, in terms of layouts, we recommend you to use one of the following templates:
- Resoume.com (especially "The Bare Bone")
- Template by Stackoverflow
- Latex Templates (e.g. for Overleaf)
Your resume should be easy to read & understand. The less effort it takes for a recruiter to grasp the information that is relevant to them, the more time they will spend to look at other parts of your application.
Best practice guidelines are:
- Use 1-2 pages for your resume.
- se a single-column format, as this promotes the humanly natural flow of reading.
- Bullet points help organising your information and to be straight-to-the-point & concise
- Font size 11-12 in a widely used modern font, e.g. Arial, etc. Your name can be presented in a slightly larger font.
- Do not use more than two typefaces (for example, bold and normal). U
A well-structured resume for applying to tech jobs usually has the following sections:
- Header (incl contact information, linked profiles)
- Summary Statement
- Work Experience
- Education (e.g. PhD, MSc., BSc., nanodegrees from Coursera/Udacity)
- Skillset (e.g. certifications, tech stack, foreign languages)
- Relevant additional information (e.g. publications, awards, hobbies, volunteering)
What should be part of a Resume's Header?
Make sure to include your full name (potentially add maiden name), your contact information (phone number, email address, and a link to your LinkedIn /Github profile) at the top of your resume. This makes it easy for hiring managers to get in touch with you and learn more about your background.
Make sure the links are clickable, so that the reader can conveniently navigate to your linked content (You have to decide which content is relevant to your application, e.g. Linkedin, Github, Websites, Researchgate, Google Scholar, etc.). If you want to work in Switzerland/Germany, it is also expected to find your citizenship & work permit in the header. Optionally, you can include your family status (e.g. married, children & their age).
The header of your CV must include:
- Your full name. If you want to work internationally (e.g. in Asia), it's expected to capitalise your last name to avoid confusion.
- Current position: What title would you give yourself, e.g. Senior Software Developer C++
- Email: To contact you & invite you for an interview
- Phone number: To contact you & invite you for an interview. Please make sure the number follows international standards (incl. country code) e.g. +41 78 123 45 67.
- Your current address (and if you plan to relocate): e.g. Paris, FR (relocating to Zurich CH in March)
- Your citizenship & work permit(s), e.g. Lithuanian (B-Permit)
- LinkedIn profile: Make sure to link it, so that readers of your CV can get to your Linkedin profile quickly.
- Other relevant profiles: e.g. Github, Researchgate, project portfolio website, ...
Optional parts of your CV header are:
- Family status (e.g. married, children & their age)
- Photo: It's your choice to include a photo or not. It would be expected to find a photo via Linkedin though.
Please try to design the header in a compact way to save space, e.g. by using icons instead of texts (e.g. Font Awesome).
Summary Statement: “At the top, your CV is hot”!
At the top, our resume is "hot." Everything that is particularly important for the job belongs at the top. The spark has to ignite within the first few seconds. That’s also why a brief summary - or “summary statement” - at the beginning of a resume can work wonders. Most applicants squander this trump card!
The summary statement is a pointed introductory text about the most wanted skills of the job that you can provide. It's best to limit yourself to three to four short sentences. These short sentences are your "statements". At the beginning of each statement, place a bullet point.
This way, your summary statement will become much easier to read in no time.The reader will grasp the content more quickly and remember it better.
It is important to limit oneself to only three to four statements. Attention is expensive and we want to focus on the competencies that are most urgently sought only.
If possible, we tailor & recalibrate our summary statements for each new application separately. In doing so, we try to highlight the professional competencies that are corresponding the most with the job you are applying for.
Think of your application as an advertisement and the potential employer as your target audience. Your summary statement serves as your "Billboard". What does your billboard say to make the target group choose you?
Choose wisely what’s on your billboard! Are there flowery cliché phrases that everyone else uses? Or a quote from Henry Ford or Albert Einstein that you didn't write yourself? No...!
Suggestion: Try a summary statement adapted to your target group (just like a billboard would do), highlighting the professional competencies that are most important for doing the job only.
An example could be:
Computer scientist with extensive experience in Java & Kotlin development. Seeking a team lead position to leverage my project experience & passion for finance and insurance. Proven ability to deliver high-quality software within budget and on-time, strong leadership skills and passion for mentoring team members. I am eager to join the highly talented team at ABC Consulting due to its great reputation, state-of-the-art frameworks & career opportunities.
This will make them buy your "product", which means: They will invite you to the interview!
And, of course, ChatGPT can help you in writing your summary statement....
Structure your work experience like a STAR
Now comes the section where you list your individual job stations chronologically starting with the most recent one.
Use the STAR-Method to effectually describe your work experience.
Your work experience at each individual job is also being structured in bullet points.If your work experiences are relevant for the role you are applying to, order them by using the STAR-method (Situation - Task - Action - Result):
- First bullet point: Situation. What was your starting point in this job or project? E.g. Job title and responsibilities: e.g. Team Lead Kotlin: Successfully delivered six implementation projects in the Insurance and Finance industry
- Second bullet point: Tasks at hand. What was expected of you and what were your specific tasks?
- Third bullet point: Actions. What did you implement specifically? What solution did you build or were you involved in?
- Fourth bullet point: Results. What was the outcome / delivery of your actions?
- Last Bulletpoint: Tech Stack and Frameworks.
Trick: Use quantifiable metrics wherever possible to demonstrate your impact. Also, be sure to include relevant keywords from the job description to help your resume get past applicant tracking systems (ATS).
List your education in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent degree. Make sure to include your degree, name of the institution, and your major. Also, highlight any relevant coursework or academic achievements. Feel free to include grades (if they are good!).
Titles of publications such as a master's thesis are listed in italics and in leading and trailing characters. For example: «The Secure and Energy Efficient Data Routing in the IOT Based Networks.». Regarding publications/thesis results: Do not list all your publications in an industry-oriented CV. Potentially link your Researchgate profile or pages to publications (e.g. dissertation).
Tech Stack & Language Skills
Be comprehensive and understandable. List the programming languages and tools you are proficient in and rate your proficiency honestly. Indicate how many years you have used each language commercially, i.e. "on the job" - or if years are a non-ideal metric for you, feel free to add a scale (e.g. beginner, advanced, professional). It's important to use realistic self-grading scales as you will be tested & interviewed based on your resume.
Differentiate clearly from languages and technologies that you have used in your free time or for your own side projects.
For full-stack CVs it might make sense to structure your tech stack into categories:
- Infrastructure (e.g. server, cloud, devops, etc.)
- Project management
Also, don't forget to mention any relevant certifications or training you've completed. For example, Coursera nano-degrees and similar certifications (Scrum, etc.) can be very valuable for your next employer.
Advanced Resume Tricks & Tipps
Professional competencies win over personal ones
On a resume, your professional competencies - or “hard skills” - are always more important than your personal competencies (empathy, communication skills, ability to work under pressure, etc.).
Many applicants focus too much on personal qualities and "soft" factors. But eventually, it is your hard skills that legitimise the recruiter to pass on your resume.
Therefore, always give more weight to the sought-after professional competencies in your application than to the personal ones. Or quite simply: Your professional skills are the soup, your personal skills are the salt.
Resume calibration - do it like Napoleon!
Napoleon never went into battle twice with the exact same army formation. He always adapted it to the territory. Do it like Napoleon!
Many people apply for all kinds of jobs with the exact same CV - and thus miss the unique opportunity to really pick up the addressee.
A little story to get you started: In the long gone and foggy past, everyone always had their same resume that they sent everywhere and all was right with the world.
But all of a sudden, a smart person started to adapt his application to the respective job. He placed the competencies that were particularly important for the job in a clearly visible position higher up on his resume.
He received conspicuously more invitations to job interviews than anyone else. They asked him, "How do you do it?"
When he revealed his trick, one by one they began to do the same. And so the world of applying to jobs changed forever…
How to calibrate your resume effectively
Yes, adapting one's own application documents to a specific job is called "calibration". We take our bearings from what the potential employer is really looking for - and serve it to them on a silver platter.
Calibrating your own resume (and your cover letter, for that matter) is not that difficult if you follow the simple structure below.
- Read the job description carefully, word by word.
- Create two categories and assign each significant word of the job description to one of these categories: (1) Professional Competencies / Hard Skills and (2) Personal Competencies / Soft Skills.
As you might have read above, professional competencies are the "Hard Skills." Experience and expertise that you can prove. Examples include number of years of relevant work experience in a specific field, jobs held, methods used, leadership span, a degree or diploma, etc.
Personal competencies are the "Soft Skills". These include empathy, communication skills, ability to work under pressure, etc.
The "fact" that you are "empathic" can ultimately never be fully proven and remains an assertion. Nevertheless, it is important to elicit the soft skills that are relevant for the job.
At the end of this short writing exercise, you will have two neat lists of the right keywords to use in your application.
Now you know exactly what you want to highlight in your application. Not only have you clearly highlighted the most important attributes and competencies, you can now see the focus of the job much more clearly.
Make sure that your Resume is machine-readable
Many companies process resume files automatically these days. So called ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) therefore rely on your PDF file to be machine-readable. There are many websites and tools out there to check if your file is machine readable. One that we can recommend is: Resumeworded.
Never use icons
Just don't! We still see many CVs where candidates choose to include logos of former employers, universities or programming frameworks. This is problematic for multiple reasons.
First, you are conducting copyright infringement as these logos are usually protected intellectual property and you do not have the rights to use them in your CV.
As a prospective team member, companies look for candidates who are responsible and careful with others' IP and hence you should not use such logos in your CV.
Second, using such logos is very unusual and makes your CV stand out in a negative way. Finally, logos of a programming framework, university or company can give the impression that you want to adorn oneself with borrowed plumes.
So, never use icons in your CV - use text instead.
Add information that is unique to you
In order to present yourself as a person, rather than as a list of skills, you can include additional information that is relevant and important to you.
Some candidates chose to present their hobbies. Here, it's nice for a hiring manager to see team-oriented activities, or activities where you excelled. In Switzerland, skiing or winter sports in general are popular.
Awards: For companies which are extremely selective, awards (e.g. best paper awards, grants, hackathons won, math olympics) can be a great signal to identify outstanding candidates.
Important: Do not invent information here or misrepresent yourself!
Further reads to help you in designing the perfect CV for tech jobs
Get feedback on your CV by a professional recruiter or a friend
We recommend you to get feedback on your CV from somebody who is experienced with the matter, e.g. a recruiter. Feedback from them might help you spot typos or improvement potentials which you have not (yet) identified.
Schedule a call with us - we are here to help you find your next dream job in tech
In conclusion, crafting a winning CV is crucial to landing your next tech job. By following these tips, you'll be well on your way to standing out from the competition and getting noticed by top-notch companies. Good luck on your job search! And if you're looking for a recruiter that can help you find the perfect tech job, look no further than Rockstar Recruiting AG. We're here to help you boost your tech career.