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I often send this to people before reviewing their CV.

If you are reviewing someone's CV, consider sending it to them.

If you want to improve your own CV using this: It was written assuming you have someone to help you. I am currently happy to help software developers, and anyway this post would have to be adapted in order to work for other professions.

Here's what I send:

Common mistake: Forgetting to include things

Even for people who already got a lot of feedback about their CV from other people (including a professional CV review), this is something I expect they might have missed.

Extreme example: You’ve won a chess competition when you were 3 years old. You didn’t put in your CV. Nobody is telling you about this mistake when they review your CV, because it’s just not there.

For people who I mentor, I approach this by trying to elicit a long unfiltered list of achievements, which I then filter for them. If I sent you this, please try not filtering anything yourself for being too low quality, just send me a lot of bullet points.

As gamification, I suggest you give yourself a point for every bullet point that I filtered out. :)

Here’s some inspiration:

  • Did you do a side project?
  • Did you get a somewhat high grade somewhere?
  • Did you do something related to STEM, such as teach someone math?
  • Did you get a raise? Good feedback from your boss? from a user maybe?
  • What can you talk about with enthusiasm?
  • Did you write code that someone used (and isn’t in your CV) ?
  • Did you publish a blog post or something similar?
  • Did you give a lecture somewhere?
  • Did you win some award?
  • Did you improve the sales of your company? Maybe you reduced the crash rate? Did you help them succeed in some other way?
  • Did you volunteer in something? (Even unofficially)
  • Did someone write code that used your code as a base? (For example, you made some infrastructure that was then used, or some code that was then adapted for a new purpose?)
  • Did you build a tool/automation for yourself?
  • Is there some other vague indication that you’ve done a good job somewhere but I didn’t know how to ask about it?

Remember, aim for as many points as possible, let me filter the low quality things out myself (even if it means all of them).

There's no need to add all of this to your CV, just send it to me as a list of bullet points and I'll help figure out what to put in.


Are you reviewing someone's list?

I recommend not trying to give someone a generic rule of "what goes in and what stays out". It depends on what is already in the CV. As an extreme example, a "chat that only has cat gifs" side project might be very valuable for an entry level developer's CV but a distraction for a CTO's CV. Of course not all bullet points will go in, but I wrote them in hopes of uncovering something interesting.

Less formally, if my experience is any indication at all, you'll see this list someone sent you, grab your head with both hands, and ask OMG HOW IS THIS THING NOT IN YOUR CV YET??

Let me know how it went

It's the first time I publish something like this, I have no idea how this will go, and a main concern of mine is not getting feedback. On the other hand, if you help me improve, what I learn will probably spread on to many other EAs

Thanks <3

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This is good advice and can be expanded outside software developers as you say. It's also great to see you offering CV help!

As someone who's hired a decent number of people, the one caveat I would add is that this will be really useful to follow as above if you are applying for a job where there is a degree of discretion among decision-makers around what they're assessing.  It's less immediately applicable, but still potentially valuable, if the initial selection is based solely on scoring against predefined criteria. Sometimes this will be explicit ('applications will be assessed against the person specification'), sometimes implicit. This seems to happen less often for EA jobs, but I'm sure it does happen for at least some.

At any rate, if it's just about criteria, your task is then to list out all the criteria from the job pack, tick them off when you've put them in the application, read them back, think 'would I at least be scored as meeting expectations on this and ideally exceeding them?', and update accordingly. In which case, this sort of approach can help you move up to 'exceeds expectations' on a criterion if you can show you can hit it from multiple angles, e.g. in both work and personal life. It could also help you get a longlist that you could pick and choose from for those types of applications and help at interview...

Thank you for the very nice post! I especially liked the bullet points list! I would be very happy to find a similar bullet point list for ops roles as well as that is a competence sought for in EA orgs atm and that plausibly create better CV's and thus better hires for these roles. I would be very happy if anyone working in ops right now would like to create such a list!

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