December 05, 2010

Make you résumé or curriculum vitae (CV) land on top of the pile

During the last 7 years or so, I had to evaluate *a lot* of résumés. A lot of them were good, some even great and some just plain crap. I know that a résumé and a CV are not the same in the US and Canada, but in this blog entry I'll discuss the more detailed CV and will use both names interchangeably.

Where to start? There is a very good website of the University of Antwerpen that elaborates on academic, business and technical communication in written form. (, dutch, english and french!). I'll sum up the most interesting parts from that site and combine them to make a model CV (my own ;-) )

Types of CV

There are 2 major types of curricula vitae: the functional and the reverse chronological. The former is more oriented towards the professional with a long career and the latter towards the recently graduated or young professional. 

The functional CV elaborates on the functional domains you specialised in during your career *and* on the functional domains you want to further specialise in. Leave out the things you are not interested in (anymore) and emphasize some recently acquired skills you want to focus on in the future. With a functional CV, you can implicitly show your career objectives and what you want to achieve personally. There is less emphasis on employment history.

The reverse chronological CV emphasizes your education and employment history. In a reverse chronological order, work experience, education and extracurricular activities are listed together with some extras relevant for your function or domain of expertise (eg. languages, computer skills, etc...)

The ideal CV for me is a hybrid of a functional and a reverse chronological CV.

Let's build a hybrid CV based on the theorie above.

Sample CV

Every CV needs some basic personal information, but before even putting your address, etc... in the CV, I prefer to see a small summary of your career objective. Here is my summary description:

Sven Beauprez, Managing Partner Xume

Enterprise Solution/IT Architect who uses his communicative skills combined with in depth IT experience to align Business and IT and who designs future proof enterprise wide solutions

It is immediately followed by your personal information (mail and phone removed to avoid spamming). These days, it is more and more important to show your online presence like your LinkedIn profile, Twitter, etc... Personally I use facebook only privately and will not accept just professional contact as friend (feel free to add me to LinkedIn though ;-) ), so I leave it out of my CV also.

Personal data

Name : Beauprez Sven
Date of birth : October 14, 1976
Region: Gent, Belgium
Nationality : Belg
Marital status : In a relationship
Mobile : +32 (0) ...
E-mail: sven.beauprez@...

Next is a section with your profile containing a high level view on your hard and soft skills.

-        has 11 years experience in designing, implementing and integrating backend services/systems and web applications
-        has 8 years experience in aligning Business and IT
-        skilled in selecting, coaching, motivating and leading people
-        thinks analytical and in long term solutions
-        is pro-active and takes initiative
-        has strong social and communication skills 

The second half of the first page contains a brief summary of the relevant (!) trainings you had, your education and relevant (!) activities. Less relevant extracurricular activities should be mentioned at the end.

-        2010-2011: Executive Master Class in Innovation & Entrepreneurship at Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School
-        2008-2009: Certified Enterprise Architect from Carnegie Mellon University
-        2007: Certified Scrum Master (instructor Ken Schwaber)
-        2007: Certified Scrum Product Owner (instructor Ken Schwaber)
-        2000: UML course at Rational
-        1999: thesis about e-Commerce + working prototype
-        1994-1999 : Master in Computer Science, specialization Information and Communication Technology, at the University of Ghent, graduated with distinction
-        1988-1994 : Highschool, Mathematics-Science

-        2003-2008: Steering member JavaPolis/Devoxx
Mainly responsible for the “Open Source” and “J2SE” track, and day to day management at the venue
-        2003-2008: Steering member Belgian Java User Group (BeJUG)
Organized and presented events ( “JDK 1.4 Overview”, “Java Web Development”, “AOP”, “Rich User Interfaces”, “Open Source libraries”, “Security”,...)

All of the above must fit on exactly 1 page (the first page) of your CV. If not, try to rearrange things until it fits 1 page! (I hate a long CV!)

The second page is where it gets interesting. On this page, you should give a functional overview of your expertise. Here, it does not matter when you worked for which company or on which project you worked, all that matters is the expertise you developed over the years in different functional domains.

Try to identify a number of relevant domains, categorise them and write down your results and contributions (experience) in that domain. Here is the functional overview of my experience:

Experience: functional overview
- Enterprise Solution Architecture / IT Architecture experience
o designing and documenting individual solutions/projects (from software to
infrastructure) based on given business process
o recognizing solution patterns common to different solutions/projects and
apply them to new solutions
o building and documenting an application (software), infrastructure (hardware)
and service (SOA) solution portfolio
o acting as a mediator between business and IT
- Software Architecture experience
o designing future proof architecture based on business needs and budget
o auditing existing software architecture
o writing development guidelines & standards
o researching and selecting tools, frameworks and libraries
o setting up continuous integration build environments
o designing deployment procedures
o specialized in Java & Open Source solutions
- Company- en management experience
o coaching and leading of developers/architects
o resource planning and budgeting
o managing and follow up of project implementations
o organizing events/conferences (BeJUG/JavaPolis/Devoxx)
- Recruitment & Selection
o candidate selection based on CV
o interview and evaluation of candidates

This was the hard part. The next pages contain a reverse chronological overview of the actual companies/roles/projects you worked for/as/on. Try to be brief an to the point on each of them. Generally an entry should not be longer than half a page and older entries (eg. more than 7-10 years) can be left out or can do without explanation. Maximum 3 to 4 pages should be dedicated to this part of your CV. Here are 2 entries from my CV:

Experience: chronological overview
-          01/07/2001-now:
Managing Partner and Co-Founder Xume BVBA, an IT Consulting Company

-          01/03/2005-now:
Owner Prorabel BVBA, a Management Company

-          01/04/2010-now: Solution Architect at “De Post” / ”bpost” as Xume Consultant
§  Assisting Enterprise Architecture with defining guidelines to design and document solutions for existing and new projects on conceptual and logical level
§  Research and design of a solution, and bootstrap implementation for Availability and Performance Monitoring (APM) of Java, .Net and commercial of-the-shelf applications (>60 applications in total). Solution will be extended for Business Activity Monitoring (BAM)
§  Research and design of a solution for the implementation of Service Oriented Architecture and Enterprise Application Integration

-          01/10/2009-31/03/2010: Enterprise Solution Architect at “Thomas Cook” as Xume Consultant
§  Formal follow-up of work already done as Software Architect (see below)
§  Assisting the Enterprise Architect with defining standards and guidelines to design and document solutions for new projects on conceptual and logical level
§  Started the design and documentation of 3 new individual solutions for CRM suite, TravelBox (similar to Bongo) and new website and the integration with legacy systems
§  Formalized solution patterns already in place through previous work (see below) and set up a solution portfolio of reusable applications.

Based on Gartner documents about “Solution Architecture” and EA course of Carnegie Mellon University

-          01/01/2007-31/09/2009:Software Architect/Technical Team Lead (Scrum Master) at “Thomas Cook” as Xume Consultant
§  Set up a uniform architecture and development environment for all legacy and new projects (>50).
§  Writing and implementing architecture guidelines and standards.
§  Coaching the refactoring of all legacy projects to be able to build with Maven 2 and a local Maven 2 repository (Proximity/Nexus) was set up. All projects are kept in a Subversion repository and continuous integration builds (including testing and code coverage) are done with Hudson.
§  Introduced new, more modern and de-facto frameworks like Spring, Hibernate, Mule,... for as well as web development as service integration (ESB) and wrote the corresponding architecture and coding guidelines.
§  Lead the team with the internal team lead through several projects, based on Scrum principle and coached the day to day development.
§  Recruited new people and helped the team grow from 3 to 30 people.
§  Advised the IT manager with the purchase of a new server parc and the implementation of test, staging and production environments, as well as with the choices of which courses developers and system administrators should follow to be ready for the future. Follow up of the implementation and roll-out for the new SSO solution with Bull Evidian.
§  Advised CIO Belgium with the purchase of new software platforms (portal) and with the choice of a co-sourcing partner for future development of large projects.
§  President of the Technical Advisory Board (TAB) in which decisions concerning future IT directions/opportunities were set.

Technology: Hudson, Maven, Cobertura, LifeRay, Spring, Hibernate, Mule, Junit, Jira, Oracle, DB2, MQSeries,  ... (see gathered knowledge)

Now come the "extras", but nevertheless also important. Depending on your domain, the extras can be different, but there should be at least a section with your language skills and a section with your computer skills (if you are an IT-person, it should contain an overview of libraries, frameworks, tools, products, etc... you have experience with). Hobbies could be interesting, but it is not a must.

Although in the modern age of social networks like LinkedIn, where people can get recommendations, references are not a must, but can be added as a last section in the CV.

Layout & Style

Now that the content of the CV is covered, layouting should be considered. It is very important to make your CV easy on the eyes:
  • Emphasize the section headers by using a bigger font in boldface for example 
  • Use indentations to group information that is part of a higher level
  • Use italics, underline or boldface to emphasize entries or important parts of a text
  • Use tables to arrange similar information, such as language skills
  • Avoid prose, use short phrases instead
  • Be concise and to the point. 
As a side note: there is a EU initiative to make documents such as a curriculum vitae more transparant within Europe It is also possible here to generate your CV based on your input.

Update 28/12: There is a follow up post called "Surviving a job interview"

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