(Obviously, not all of them but now you're reading this...)

I have probably read around 200+ CVs in my positions as Development Manager and CTO. All of the relevant ones are for .Net Developers from Junior through to Senior and I would estimate that more than 75% of them suck - even if the Developer themselves is really good. For this reason, many don't get past the first stage of Recruitment and some others only just about get through!

I will explain what I personally look for in a CV and hopefully you will take some of these on board and make your CV better so that you get more interviews when you will get a chance to show how good you really are (I will do another post on Interviews where many more fail!).

Step back

What is your CV primarily for? It is to sell you to someone who has probably never met you before. In other words, they will judge you purely from the content of your CV. if you are the best developer ever, the most easy-going person, if you would die for your employer but you CV sucks, you might never get that chance and you might wonder why.

Before we even get down and dirty, this should already give you some ideas about why your CV is not really cutting it.

If your CV looks like it came from the 1990s, what do you think people might judge about you? No imagination? No design skills? Can't be bothered to make it nice? You can look for ideas online and find out what looks modern but don't steal something that is copyright!

Nobody cares that you "solve problems while recognising business constraints"

A small introduction is useful and neat but a load of marketing-style fluff that has no specifics is not. The fact that you care about business constraints needs weaving into the details, not added to a list of BS words at the top. By all means pick out 1 or 2 things that describe you but a more useful introduction would be: "An experienced .Net Developer and Team Leader looking for Management roles" or by all means, "A .Net Developer with extensive experience in microservices architecture", which picks out a key selling point. C# and .Net are relevant but not important since another 10M people have those skills already!

I only care about the last 5 years

This might be a kick in the teeth for those of you who have been out of the game or those who have been doing this for 40 years "since punched cards" but we work in a fast moving industry. If you haven't been directly involved in the last 5 years, you will have missed Dotnet core, most front-end JS frameworks and the SPA pattern, microservices and most of the recent developments in cloud. If you are applying as a Senior, this will be a BIG handicap (depending on your expected salary and desperation of the employer). If you are not senior, you might get away with some homework - as only ONE candidate I met had ever done - they were long-term sick so they learned about Azure and created some app services and deployed them, tried some other services and showed motivation and knowledge!

Lots of short roles is not good

This isn't related to editing, you might have been way too mobile. Of course, you should have good reasons for moving around so much because you should be asked about it. A recruit is a significant investment, which might cost north of £15K in recruiters fees. Imagine how frustrating that is if they leave after 12 or 18 months. Again, you might have a good reason but I have seen people with 10 roles and none of them more than 18 months. Guess what I assume? Maybe they are unemployable, maybe they are easily bored, maybe they are unmotivated, maybe they have serious personal issues that make them move - none of these are going to make me want to take them.

A corporate != contractor != startup

You need to accept that different people work well in different contexts. Some people are great in the corporate world where they get told what to do and do it. Others hate that and need a small company where there is a lot of latitude to think big-picture, to have major decision making. Contractors get paid a premium but they don't always make great permanent hires since they can be hard-wired to want to move on quickly.

Again, these are not set-in-stone but I want to know that the person I am recruiting is going to fit the culture and not just because they say they will! Unless you are willing to pay back the recruiter's fee, I cannot take your word for everything, I need evidence. If you need to change, this can be hard but make sure you make it clear in the CV why you are changing and why it will succeed.

I want to know what you did

So many CVs have a roles that say something like, "worked on a team that produced a web application....". What did you do? Make the tea? I am not recruiting your old team or company, I am recruiting you. What did you do? What difference did you make? I want you to make a difference to my company so if you didn't make any difference, I am not interested. Any of the following would be OK:
"Led the team that.."; "Was the architect for X that was based on Y"; "Designed and implemented the microservices"; "Implemented a particularly complex piece of software that...." anything that says what you did.

And also, I want to know what you did

"Led the team"; "Architect" etc. doesn't tell me what you did. Anyone can call themselves Development Manager, Senior Developer, Lead Developer but what does that mean? Maybe everyone else left because the company was terrible and you became the Lead Developer? Maybe you blagged your way into the Dev Manager role but the boss didn't know enough to work out whether you were any good?

Dev Managers: What did you do that a) Other's of less ability couldn't b) Took a lot of different skills to accomplish c) New systems you brought in and the improvements that were made as a result d) Mistakes you made that taught you an important lesson (don't underestimate how powerful these are) - nothing says, "experienced" like someone who can admit to their mistakes.

Architects: What did you design that a) Would be hard for most people b) Used a clever mechanism c) Took a while to solve until the penny dropped d) Increased system capacity by X percent e) won an award....

Developers: What did you do that a) You weren't asked to but you did anyway b) Did outside of work hours because you knew it was important but the company didn't want to c) caused you to go and learn a new technology that is not used at work d) permits you to call yourself an expert?

When you come to an interview, don't be surprised when I challenge your DB credentials by asking you about query analysers, structuring indexes properly, sharding and partitioning - not just what you know but what you've done! Don't be upset when I question what makes you an HTML expert?


If you can in any way, get a techie to read your CV and ask them if they would hire you on the basis of the CV alone. Don't get upset if they say no. Ask why and sort your CV out. You mustn't fake your ability but if your can get your CV to the top of the pile, maybe you get the first interview and the first offer!