The classic position of the IT professional: Sick of thinking of self as just a “techie” or “teckie” depending on taste in spelling. Worried about new Inland Revenue moves. Several years as a contractor but things don’t go as smoothly as they used to when looking for the next gig. Not a kid any more: possible marriage and children; needs a secure job to get a decent priced mortgage…
It’s worse than that: Legacy CV is just a dull list of acronyms, applications, versions and increasingly outdated technologies. For the first time in history, it isn’t working properly. There’s a bit in it about contributions to project management and sales presentations but it simply does not position the career for change.
Migration to a higher release: This person must move soon to a more senior, more responsible and challenging job or be left behind in the great wasteland of dreariness. It’s no longer a question of pay. It starts to be about status and self-respect. Observation of the people in charge reveals that they have no special or better skills or attitudes. They’ve just somehow managed to lift themselves into a more secure framework with more robust connectivities.
Planning the project: This is not a five-minute fix. There isn’t a patch you can apply that will turn a crap CV into a masterpiece. Entirely new approaches have arisen in the last five years and if you fall behind the technology you fall behind the game. Any vital data contained in the old CV can be retained and re-presented but the core issue is how to generate something that really “talks” to potential recruiters.
False starts: Most people tackle this scenario by taking their useless old list of a CV and tacking on a few superlatives about their skills and achievements. What this produces is a hybrid document that feels like a compromise. What is actually needed is a whole new front end and a decent letter/professional statement to grab their attention.
- stop trying for a quick fix; set aside some time and do it properly; two hours a day for a week is the minimum
- get some natural language; talk to a friend and brainstorm your career, taking notes or using a tape recorder
- what you need first is a “man in the pub” version of your career that will tell anyone what you have actually done, what you really know about, what you can deliver in the future and what you could achieve in a few months from now
- the next step is the business case for you: examine everything you have to tell them in terms of value and prioritise the information you are going to use so that it points out that value first; sideline lesser issues and the old lists of technologies
- write like a natural: being a techie doesn’t mean you can’t use decent prose; write the whole thing much too long and then go back through several iterations, each time cutting it down
- summarise: put a very brief summary of your key USP’s at the top of the CV and a longer, more exciting version in the letter you approach them with; DO NOT use embarrassing headings such as “Objectives”, “Achievements” or “Profile” – they make you sound like a novice; there is no need for any heading, nor the words Curriculum Vitae; it just needs your name, email address and a fast glance summary to catch their attention; the rest of the CV is evidence that you are who you say you are and it needs to contain detail; stick the trivia (your address and stuff) at the end, if mentioned at all
- the testing phase: try your new approach out on friends, colleagues, less vital agencies and jobs you don’t really want; ask for feedback but don’t just listen to the first so-called expert; you want 10 different opinions before you start fine-tuning… this is about getting the right user ergonomics
- project roll-out: when you go for higher jobs it won’t always happen like clockwork; you need to prepare yourself for a series of interviews or discussions in which they get to know your character and clarify what role they can use you in; this takes time and demands ideas and input from you; the people you want to emulate, those with higher-level responsibilities and roles are people who know their workstreams from their elbows; they come along with stuff to say that sounds convincing; if you are falling short in this respect do some reading to pick up the buzzwords and consider some courses in project management and business themes; the day of the pampered techie being spoon-fed training is over