It’s that time of year again. Reviewing student CVs with a view to graduate positions and/or summer jobs. And I’m amazed how many CVs are absolutely useless. There’s a lot of detail, but not much information. Once you’ve put your contact details, your course list, your pre-university qualifications, possibly a list of skills, and some hobbies, there’s really no space left for the content that might persuade me to interview you: evidence that you’ve really done some programming.
When I’m looking at a CV, I want to know about what you have developed. What meaty projects have you done? Can you even program at all? I want to know you’ve done more than learn some facts to pass some exams. If you’re going to be working for me, I don’t want to be teaching you how to write code. I want you to come on board and start contributing immediately. So you have to have solid programming experience already.
Now, I know universities give you exercises and projects which give you plenty of opportunity to practice (at least, the universities I’ve been involved with do). So tell me about them. Sell yourself. Show off the tricky problems you’ve solved, the slick interfaces you’ve created. Well-rounded individuals may be interesting to the HR department, but if you can’t program, I’m not interested.
If you do get through to an interview, I’ll be looking for some project in your CV to ask you about in great detail to satisfy myself that 1) you know what you’re talking about, 2) you did actually develop it yourself and 3) you can think on your feet and extrapolate. If I can’t find anything to ask about, I’ll not bother inviting you to interview.
You’ve only got a minute while I scan the CV. Don’t waste it. You may know you’re the best programmer on the planet, but you need to prove it to me, too.