We got some insider tips on writing a top Java Developer CV from Morgan McKinley’s leading Java recruiter - Simon O’Malley. Simon has placed close to 500 Java Developers in his career so I picked his brain on this.
As a recruiter for java development roles, I encounter many talented developers. In the many CV's that I receive on any given day this is one error we’re always advising on.
Whilst it is good to demonstrate team work to an extent, this doesn’t give the employer an accurate picture of your ability and experience as a developer.
Your résumé is a showcase of your experience. As with any job, demonstrating that you have been involved with successful projects elsewhere bolsters your credibility and gives the potential employer an idea of your journey so far. However, applying for developer positions is a peculiar beast. Whilst many organisations elsewhere use work experience as the key metric in which to judge a person's suitability for a role, this isn’t always the case for developer roles. Up-to-date technical ability is paramount in this world. There are of course plenty of industries and roles where technical knowledge and ability are important, although not all are as fast moving and rapidly evolving as the world of software development.
So here it is, the mistake developers make on their CV... They forget to talk about themselves.
It sounds ludicrous doesn’t it? But time after time, it’s a trap that many developers fall into.
These developers will list the projects that they have been involved in, usually neatly accompanied by a job title that implies their skill set (for example java developer or software architect). What they fail to do however is detail their specific contributions to the project, which is what good recruiters and hiring managers are looking for to gauge technical ability. Sure, you may have spent three years as a java developer on project X… But what did you actually do? How much responsibility did you have? What did you learn? What level is your coding ability? A good example of this would be:
“I worked on porting the Spring MVC back-end of the existing site to a RESTful API, interfacing with the Amazon AWS interface in java to transfer content from existing hosting cloud space, updating to the current java and tomcat versions, profiling using new relic synthetics, batch scheduling using Cron jobs”.
If you don’t demonstrate that you’ve built up specific skills and kept them up-to-date, the recruiter may feel like they have not seen enough to shortlist you.
YOUR PERSONAL CV, NOT THE DEV TEAM’S CV
The trap that many fall into is using the role description to talk at great lengths about the goals of the project as well as the actual outcomes, often listing the team's collective accomplishments as opposed to their own. Whilst it is good to demonstrate team work to an extent, this doesn’t give the employer an accurate picture of your ability and experience as a developer. They want to see the thought process behind your preferred methodology.
By all means provide information about the architecture of the project as this does have relevance, but what they really want to know is what you contributed; whether you were involved in low-level socket programming, front-end UI development or back-end database tuning. They want to see the thought process behind your preferred methodology. Remember; the manager is not interviewing you to hire your team, they are interviewing you and want to know what you are able to offer their team.