04 February 2008

CVs and CVS, part II (the other side of the coin)

As étienne commented, (and I paraphrase) CV authors include a lot of keywords in order to game CV indexing engines. In a sense, the CV authors and the JD (Job Description) authors are in a kind of arms race. Of the pointless, self-defeating kind.

Dear JD authors:

There are a million CVs out there that match your JD. How about writing something with a little more focus? You would need to know what you really want ... not just what are the technologies on your project.

It's true that if you have a project that's all java, struts, oracle and whatnot, it's quicker to integrate someone who's all java, struts, oracle and whatnot. But that still leaves a million CVs. What can you do to bring that down to, say, 50?

First of all, how can you tell whether the java, struts, etc mentioned on the CV are real skills rather than just technologies used on the project your candidate has been "involved in"? What would you expect to find in the CV of someone really, truly, deeply skilled with java, compared to someone who has poked around with the language for a year?

Secondly, how can you tell this person really wants to deliver value on your project, and isn't just looking for another job to keep going for the next few months? How do you feel when you read the CV of someone who is obsessed with delivering great software, compared to someone who would be bored without a job and wouldn't know what to do outside a cubicle?

Thirdly, if you will forgive me for smashing the stereotype of the antisocial nerd, the geek that can't speak (I imagine this is why Dilbert is rarely drawn with a mouth) - the primary job of a software developer is communication with other human beings. We spend ages just trying to find the right name for things. The best software speaks first of all to the team that develops it; and only secondarily to the machine that runs it. What picture forms in your mind as you read the CV of a great communicator, compared to the picture that develops (if at all) as you read the CV of a ... um, you know, those people who, sort of, can't really express themselves really well, like.

Fourthly, why are you reading CVs? Haven't you heard of Google? It's your CV :)

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