Getting the job — it starts with a good CV.
Your CV is the most important part of your application package. LinkedIn profile, Github, and your own website all matter as well, but a bad CV is hard to recover from.
Why? Recruiters first look at your CV to assess your application. They score your CV using a set of criteria. It’s like Bingo. The higher your score, the better your chance to land a phone interview. Bingo.
For the engineers among us: a great CV is a function of two variables
Let’s take a look at these, one by one.
Maximize relevant keywords. Recently a firm in our network was looking for a Senior PHP engineer. See their post below.
A recent job post at a startup in Berlin/Germany.
Does this mean that you should sprinkle your CV with all these keywords? No. Instead, use these lists as a guide as to whether an application even makes sense.
Too often we see people 'apply first, think later'. This tactic is known as “spray and pray”, sending the same CV out to 50 firms and hoping for the best. Don’t do that. The rejections will hurt your brand, and also your ego.
Pro tip: Test the fit of your CV to the job description by using this free tool.
We stress this point so much because the best way to get rejected for a job is to apply for the wrong job. It’s that simple.
What is the “right” job for you? As a rule of thumb, only apply if you can credibly make the case that you check ~75% of the criteria listed. You get a check if you have done real work in a topic/language/framework. This is more than just an active interest.
Example: Let’s assume you are a PHP developer with a broad full-stack, four years of work experience, and no German skills. Should you apply for the job above?
Yes, by all means. No firm will ever pass on you if you only have 4 but not the required 5 years of experience. But prepare to make a case about why you are ready now. Also, German skills are explicitly listed as optional, which is a good sign that people who don’t speak German are invited to apply.
Let’s assume you correctly believe you are a good match to apply for this job.
Now, you need to customize your CV. There is no one size fits all CV. Ideally, you slightly adjust the positioning of your skills (highlighting those skills of you that are apparent scoring criteria of the recruiter).
Help a recruiter read your CV. If your objective is to craft a customized CV that is easily readable for recruiters, then your CV needs to have a functional layout.
A great CV does not have to be beautiful. It needs to be clearly structured and well readable.
PRO TIP: Take any standard US or European CV template and adapt it to your persona. It’s easy. Here are your options:
Want to see a great CV? → Here is one — ready for you to use as a template. You’re welcome.
A well-structured CV allows your recruiter to scan and score it in less than 5 minutes. Amr, a product manager in our network, calls a CV your personal “clickbait”. All your CV needs to do is to compel a recruiter into action.
Nobody will trust you to do a good job if you cannot put together a decently crafted CV. Here is a list of absolute basics to follow:
Some of these may appear to you as “very narrow-minded” or “too German”. We feel with you. But believe us, it’s still very important. To avoid most of these things, use a CV generator and follow this PRO TIP:
Need a ‘cheat’ for your English grammar, spelling, and punctuation? Install the Grammarly Chrome extension. We also use it. It works like a charm, and it’s free → https://app.grammarly.com/
A winning CV is a function of match and simplicity. You need to have both — one of them is not enough. For the geeks among us: a winning CV is a multiplicative function, not an additive one. :)
That’s it. We hope you enjoyed the read. Now it’s time for action. As always, we are rooting for you. Keep us posted.
— Your friends at Imagine