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Offer HN: I will review and critique your CV.
180 points by KoZeN on Oct 27, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 86 comments
I'm an experienced technical recruiter based in the UK and due to the uprise in offers of assistance to this site I've decided to add my own two cents.

I'm willing to analyse your CV and offer constructive feedback on potential content alterations, layout, etc.

The logical critic in you will assume I'm offering to do this in order to generate leads or recruits and to counter-act that, I have no problem with you removing your personal details and even censoring company names.

As for me, I have a degree in Software Development & Web Design and my target market is London and the South East. I've been in recruitment for a few years now and I have a 1st class understanding of the market. My highest fee generating clients are insurance companies & financial institutions.

I will be doing this during my spare time and at the weekend so if the response is significant then be patient with me!


22 CV's received so far!

Looks like I'm going to be kept busy. I will do my absolute best to respond to each and every one of you but you will need to be patient.

Anyone else looking to send me a CV, please fire away but it would help if you could include info on what you would like me to focus on, eg. are you concerned about specific content, is it the layout or format that you feel is letting you down, etc.


That figure has now doubled and I'm looking at over 40 CV's in my inbox. I'll get started on them tonight and see how many I get through.

112 CV's & counting.

I've given very brief responses to some of you but I am determined to get through all of them in detail.

Remember, all I am offering is my informed opinion and if you disagree with my advice, don't take it personally!

> Remember, all I am offering is my informed opinion and if you disagree with my advice, don't take it personally!

I took a class where we had "critique sessions." One of the huge differences between the veteran writers in the class and the inexperienced was their ability to take criticism.

One girl became particularly defensive about something she had written, so one of the more practiced writers stood up and said to her, "Look, this is just my opinion. If you don't like it, well, maybe I'm full of shit."

I always find that's a helpful way to think about it.

Currently in the middle of a job search so feedback on this would be very helpful!


Here's adding to your workload - http://sidmitra.com/resume.pdf Let me know if i can every repay your effort with some of my skill sets.

My take:

Not overly convinced with listing the skills down the right hand side. It makes it a little hard to read. I generally recommend that people stick to "normal" layouts and list skills at the end.

Also; be more specific with the skills if you can. "Database design" can mean many things (this is particularly important if you go for, say, a DB design job :)).

Also; it is ok to write a short prose section under "interests" or something, which is where you can be a bit more creative and sell yourself.

Otherwise, pretty good :)

I'll second pretty much everything ErrantX mentioned, specifically the skills comment, move them. I appreciate you are probably trying to keep it to one page but I promise you that this does not give you any advantage whatsoever.

As for specifics, list your day to day duties and responsibilities in a format that will stand out and be easy to read such as a list of bullet points under each brief.

Thanks for all the comments to ErrantX and Kozen. Will try to make relevant changes soon.

One positive: I really like your typography. Which fonts are you using?

Up for comments: https://crocodoc.com/gYIcAa

...Programming ninja...

I'm not sure whom this is meant to appeal to.

This is great and I think I can help as well from a slightly different view point(not to steal any thunder!).

I'm head of development for a search related company and as part of my role review all incoming CV's(with advice from one of my senior devs) as well as handle the most of the interviews.

If you'd like two perspectives(Recruiter who will work to get you an interview and HoD who will ultimately hire you) feel free to send them over to me as well. My email is in my profile though I can only honestly help if you're targeting development roles.

Same disclaimer about time though, I will try to do any I get through over the next couple of nights though.

Edit: If you could include what type of role you are targetting(tech startup, agency, finance, etc) it would really help with my advice.

I don't want to steal your thunder stealing but I am so excited to see this that if either sanswork or KoZen get swamped or if anyone wants a third set of eyes I would happily offer my critique. I am an educator in the US. I teach our department's professional practices course. In graduate school I gave a seminar to the graduate college on CV development. I ran a small company for someone for 3 years and did all the CV/resume reviewing. My area of training is as a visual artist. Prior to my university work I did a lot of freelance design work for museums, galleries, art agencies and artists. I managed CV's for artists and galleries. I actually advised one gentleman who had a 91 page CV. My professional experience here at the university has been in the development of curriculum that address visual organization of information. This is all by way of saying I can best offer a critique from this perspective. I'm not tech illiterate. I do work with HTML and CSS regularly. I started learning PHP this year as a new years resolution. I started teaching myself AppleScript 11 years ago and I'm proficient with it. But, I'm not offering to review these from the same perspective as sanswork or KoZen, but from another professional who has a lot of experience with this.

As a caveat for those who might think I'm looking for teaching examples for free, I promise I'm not. Just really want to help out. Same disclaimer about time. I've already done some mark up on rdamico's CV on crocodoc if you want to take a look at some of my quick remarks on his.

Great offer sanswork!

It would be interesting to see how your feedback would differ to mine on certain CV's. I definitely think that you will get flooded with CV's though!

Well I've definitely gotten hit. For everyone that has sent a CV through I'm going to spend a few hours going through them in more detail tomorrow night(AU time, already 2am here) before I send replies though I have hit them all quickly and made first impression notes already.

It would be very interesting if sanswork and KoZeN could throw up a quick blog, where each blog post contains: (1) the original CV; (2) the CVs formatted as each of them would recommend; (3) a few points from each highlighting why the changes were suggested. I'm sure a handful of representative CVs could be chosen and the proper permissions obtained. Might be too much work or simply not of interest. I'd like to see this though. Let me know if I can help in some way.

The current trend to offer things on HN is amazing. I can't wait until I can figure out what I can offer in return :)

That's exactly what prompted me to post this.

Communities such as HN, where intelligent discussion is rampant and trolls are minimal, are a rare breed these days and to see the community step up and start assisting each other in the real world is admirable to say the least.

Whilst I may not be a genius developer or a powerful CEO, I still have skills that could be of use to the element of the community that are looking for a new challenge or those who are struggling to find work.

I think a huge amount of people on this site will have something to offer that others will find incredibly useful so hopefully this will have a knock on affect and we'll see more and more offers of legitimate, useful assistance.

This is so true. It had been a few months since I last visited HN and then I dropped by last week and it was shocking how intelligent and considerate the posts are. I can't believe how much easier it is to find posts I care about reading here vs Reddit.

I'm think my CV is pretty well polished, but I've never asked for professional feedback on it, so let me know what you think: http://www.puremango.co.uk/2009/08/php-cv/

I'm particularly interested in whether you think the order of sections (education->work->general->personal) works, and whether my copy sells.

Thanks for the offer!

PS: I'm not looking for work at the moment, so please prioritise my request lower than those who are currently seeking.

I've just had a very quick look and my instant opinion would be to change how you clarify your responsibilites.

Whilst the paragraph descriptions are well written my suggestion on your current role for example would be to keep the first paragraph in place and immediately after that I would bullet point a list of your primary responsibilities.

Overall it is a decent CV but I'll have a proper look and send you the feedback directly over the next day or two.

One thing I would like to ask about is how my employment history looks - returning to my previous position.

Chronologically (earlier first) it went like this:

Company 1 (1 year)

University (1 year)

Company 2 (3 months)

Company 1 again (nearly 1 year)

Does it raise questions that I left Company 2 after only 3 months, and that I went back to Company 1?

(not listing company names here so it doesn't get into their search results)

Does it raise questions that I left Company 2 after only 3 months, and that I went back to Company 1?

It does and you will be questioned on this.

The fact is, if you have a reasonable, logical, verifiable reason for returning then it won't be an issue.

If the company 2 role was a contract position I would highlight that on the CV.


No, I've never done contract work. I won't go into details here, but I feel I have good reasons for leaving C2. They were great to work for, but just weren't quite in line with my career goals.

Wow, instant feedback! Thanks :) I'll have a think about what my responsibilities actually are!

Be honest and be specific. Leave out flowery points like Liasing with various departments & attending meetings for example.

Excellent SEO ability; this resumé is ranked in the top results for “php CV” and “php programmer CV“.

This totally impressed me.

Also, I love this: http://www.geekwallpapers.com/3d-wallpaper-office-plan/

heh, thanks :) That 3d wallpaper wasn't made by me, I just added it to my collection.

Glad you like line about SEO. I'm not sure I could repeat the success without puremango being an established & well-ranked blog already, but I like to think I'm good at SEO. Geek Wallpapers ranks highly for several keywords too and that's been going less than a year, so I must be doing something right! :)

Ahem. Delist swimming as one of your activities.

I would say 95% of every CV I get has swimming and/or reading listed. Even if it is a particular passion (which I suspect it is in this case) just don't mention it :)

(I like the swiss army knife mention though, a bit of "unique" is always good)

really? damn and I thought it made me look sporty! I really do swim a lot though, 1/3 of a mile last night. Hoping to swim my mile within a year (only learned to swim properly 2 years ago).

Generally you only put education first while you're still in education, after your first proper job you put that first.

True. The layout is derived from a time when all I had were qualifications and I haven't re-evaluated since then, just grown and added the commercial experience section.

I think I'm going to leave education at the top though. I think my university has good initial impact on the reader. People raise their eyebrows when they see 'Oxford'. This is a good thing. I do personally believe the commercial experience can be more important for most jobs, but I still want to draw attention to my academic background.

I completely disagree with this one and it's been a bone of contention in the past.

The majority of clients I deal with prefer to see the education & relevant qualifications listed first if the candidate has left University within the last 5 or 6 years.

Once again it's a matter of opinion but I have researched it a bit and this seems to be the general consensus.

Curious, my background is in a fairly similar area to you, I've worked as a developer for investment banks and financial tech firms. Generally I get the feeling that if a candidate is at an associate or higher level then work experience is more important.

From my experience (and I suspect most developers would agree) real world development experience is a much better indicator of performance than university.

Are the candidates you normally field changing sectors ? - in the case that a candidate doesn't have industry experience I can see why a company might want to see educational background first, but it seems strange that a company would care more about educational level than directly relevant experience.

Presumably if you're applying for jobs related to your education that aren't related to your first "proper" job then you'd mention your education first, no?

I'm guessing something along those lines led you to specify this as a generalisation.

Yes. Actually the general rule is put whatever's going to sell you most first. If your education is more relevant than your current job then I agree that you should put that first.

May want to change this line:

Excellent SEO ability; this resumé is ranked in the top results for “php CV” and “php programmer CV“.

Cus, it aint. Not that you're looking for work, just sayin'

hmm, it is for me. Between number one and three normally. What country are you searching from? Do you have iGoogle or are signed in when searching?

If you want to make notes directly on peoples' resumes, you can use crocodoc (YC W2010) to view and mark them up online. (Disclaimer: I'm one of the co-founders!)

Just forward their emails (w/ attachments) to upload@crocodoc.com, or upload them directly through crocodoc.com. Either way you'll receive a unique crocodoc URL you can use to view, mark up, and share each resume with its creator.

Would love to hear your feedback if you end up giving this a try!

Note: You don't need to create a crocodoc account to use the service (which is free), but I'd suggest doing so to keep track of all the resumes it looks like you'll be working on :)

Example document: https://crocodoc.com/demo1 (note: since this is a demo document your changes won't actually be saved)

Does anyone have any recommendations for paid services that do this sort of thing?

KoZeN's offer to review CV's is really (really) nice, but with well over 40 to read, his offer won't likely meet the demand.

I've thought a few times that there must be something wrong with my resume and I'd like to have it reviewed professionally.

Has anyone paid to have their resume reviewed? If so, where, how much did it cost and was it worth it?

Google brings up plenty of options, but I'm nervous to use any of them for fear that they may not have experience in tech / I.T. / programming or worse, that they'll simply find a couple of grammar mistakes and charge me a few hundred dollars.

Any help?

I'm glad you brought this up.

Firstly, regardless of the size of the response, I will uphold my promise and provide feedback on every single CV I get, it may take some time but I will deliver.

Secondly, as for a paid service, you absolutely hit the nail on the head as far as your concern about for fear that they may not have experience in tech / I.T. / programming or worse, that they'll simply find a couple of grammar mistakes and charge me a few hundred dollars.

This is the sole reason I haven't set up a paid service myself. How can you charge $100 dollars only to receive a CV that is essentially perfect or even convince your market that you won't just give generic feedback?

Send me the CV and I will do my absolute best for you.

> How can you charge $100 dollars only to receive a CV that is essentially perfect...

Well, that case is easy. If you can't help them, don't charge.

Unfortunately, I don't have any idea about convincing your target market. I think word of mouth would be most effective, maybe you could come up with some ways to generate that (like what you're doing now!)

What would you be willing to pay and what would you expect to get out of it ?

I think a big problem is that the return varies a lot, some people have absolutely awful CVs and some people have great CVs. If you're charging a flat-rate for CV reviews then some people will obviously get far more value out of it than others. If you charge variable-rate that's likely to put off customers who want to know upfront how much something will cost.

It does sounds like there might be an opportunity though for a developer-focused CV review service? HNcvreview.com anyone?

Maybe you could get away with a flat rate if you provided additional services besides the review. Maybe taking the CVs and turning them into a profile for them that's indexable by Google or creating a "reverse job application" like a couple people have been floating around lately here?

I'm not sure how well a CV review service would work alongside a reverse job application. I'm not so sure I'd want (possibly), old copies of my CV so readily available with suggested changes.

I got mine reviewed by Neil Rauch. I paid $75, and he must have spent about 3-4 hours on it to shrink it from seven pages to three! I did not accept all changes but most were helpful. Overall, I was happy that I got it reviewed.

Search for "Neil Rauch resume doctor" to find his contact information.

I've heard good things theladders.com's resume service: http://resume.theladders.com/

I don't think it's cheap though.

Out of interest, as a recruiter, what did you think of the two 'reverse job application' posts?



and in response:


RE: http://www.reversejobapplication.com/

I thought this was a really entertaining read. Will it generate his dream job on it's own merits? Probably not. Will it generate a ton of job offers due to the publicity it's received? Probably.

More and more employers want 'celebrities' working for them. I recently placed a gentleman who had a relatively average CV but he had been published in numerous Insurance related publications and his name was well recognised throughout the industry, when people heard he was open to offers I had multiple interviews lined up for him within 245 hours.

That's a minor example but it's definitely a growing trend.

Do you know why employers would want celebrities?

Good question.

I believe it's the credibility factor. If someone has a lot of positive exposure be it online, in print media or what ever the case may be, then that is going to attract attention to who the person works for.

Take actual celebrity examples; almost everyone in the world knows who David Beckham is and now most of those people know who LA Galaxy are. I can assure you, before he joined the team few people in Europe had ever even heard of LA Galaxy and now they are a recognised and respected brand purely because of their association with Beckham. On an infinitely smaller scale the same applies to certain industries in larger cities.

Thanks a lot for doing this. Here is mine


if you or anyone else has time to take a look. My goal with the colors was to make it scan-able by highlighting where I worked as well as approximate position titles and letting gray-colored description stay in the background. But it might also be too harsh on the eyes.

Another concern is having too many things and not saying very much about any one of them. I am a student, and many companies seem to want to hire people who get things done for internships, rather than people with very specific skills. So I want my message to be "I've done things", rather than "I've done these very specific things that your job description lists." Is this misguided? Should I take certain parts of it out depending on where I am applying?

Thanks again.

Instant opinion: The colours are drastic. I appreciate your intention but the same affect can be achieved by using slightly larger fonts.

On a side note, I see you worked @ Numenta Inc. A colleague & I have been experimenting with various potential applications for NuPIC. When I have a more detailed look at the CV I'll throw in a few side questions that you might be able to assist with.

Thanks for the quick reply! I feared as much. I will try making everything gray/black.

re: Numenta -- certainly shoot me an email (snikolov@mit.edu) and I'll see what I can answer (if I am allowed to answer it :-)) If I can't, I can direct you to people who would be a lot more knowledgeable.

Thanks for your offer!

Currently I do not really have a CV anymore, I link to my linkedin or make a dump of my linkedin to doc/pdf.

What do you think of this practice?

Anyone else who has opinions on "moving the CV to linkedin"?

Whilst Linkedin is a vital tool, if one of my candidates sent me a link to their linkedin page when I ask for a copy of their CV I wouldn't bother helping them and I would tell them as much.

If you can't go to the effort of compiling a detailed CV for me to send to my clients then I can't be bothered going to the effort to try and get you an interview with people who pay me top dollar to find the strongest, hungriest applicants.

If I sent a linkedin page to an employer instead of a candidates CV I am almost certain they wouldn't even bother looking at it.

As far as I know, LinkedIn makes most of its money by selling access to recruiters. There's definitely automated software that spiders LinkedIn to make it easy for recruiters to search - but they're still going to want a CV to send to their clients.

I was asked some time ago to provide my CV and I also used a pdf export of linkedin cause it's such a simple option.

I believe it's a bit lacking in some areas eg, I recall it does not have anything about human languages (when you are moving around in europe that is kind of useful). I may be wrong though.

i too missed that option in linkedin!

What a coincidence! A few days ago I had some ideas about CV reviewing, and since you're a recruiter, could you provide some feedback if the service would be useful? :) http://www.inerciasensorial.com.br/2010/10/14/geral/crowd-re...

Interesting approach.

To be honest any recruiter posting someones CV publicly asking advice on suitability for a specific job is going to get torn to shreds.

Recruitment is an incredibly cut throat, incestuous market and any recruiter worth his salt won't be faced with ambiguity over whether or not a CV would be suitable for a job.

Most CV's that are difficult to interpret tend to be specialist skillsets and 9 times out of 10 a vacancy that requires a niche skillset will have agencies that specialise in that area and understand the skillset working on it.

Over 200 CV's received so far so can I ask that you don't submit any more new requests?

I intend on responding to everyone who has emailed me up until now and I am going through each request chronologically.

Thank you so much for all your messages of support.

Great idea and offer -- thanks for putting this forward, KoZeN. I sent my CV over, but I figure I'll throw it up here too; more feedback is always a Good Thing (TM). http://daeken.github.com/CV.html http://daeken.github.com/CV.pdf

I recently rewrote it from scratch, as my previous CV was simply thrown together when applying for a random job. When I decided to put myself on the job market seriously, I figured I'd go ahead and spiff it up a bit.

Great offer. Perhaps a small idea for those looking to put an original element in their CV that I used successfully:

Put your Skills in as a Tagcloud. Strong skills get a bigger fontsize than minor skills. Additionally I used grey tones to indicate which skills have been used more recently and which are older (more grey than black, paling so to speak.)

It is somewhat daring, because not necessarily everyone gets tagclouds yet - but I was invited quite a few times for the tag cloud to interviews.

Thanks very much for this. I've never had much luck with recruiters and my C.V so any feedback you have would be greatly appreciated.

I've also decided to upload it here. http://www.alanhollis.com/Alan_Hollis.pdf

Please note I'm not actively seeking employment at the moment but might as well take advantage of the opportunity to get some constructive criticism whilst it's here.

Your choice of technologies in your individual projects is not clear; this would be something I look for, since I evaluate a candidate eligibility in part through his personal technological preferences.

Thanks very much, never really thought that people would be interested in the "what and the why". I have a feeling I'll be making a lot of changes to my C.V tonight.

I'm not a recruiter, but my opinion is that 'experience' should mean 'commercial experience'. By saying you've got seven years (4 commercial) you look like you're trying to bump up your figures.

Page 3 is ridiculous. Shorten your borders and margins and get it onto 2 pages.

Overuse of bullets for my liking, esp when really you're putting paragraphs in. Bullets are for <5 word points ideally. Nested bullets are always ugly.

Tell people what they care about. Eg:

> Livenumber, a blackberry application...

Nobody cares that it's called Livenumber. Say:

> A blackberry application...

It looks a bit wall-of-texty.

Just my opinion though, don't take it for gospel!

The way I see it if you're thinking it, others looking at my C.V will too. I agree with every point you make and will make the changes accordingly.

Thanks very much for your feedback!

Thanks for the link.

I have had a look and there is plenty of advice I could give you. I'm facing a pile of almost 100 CV's now but I promise you that I will get round to it although it may take a few days if that's ok?

It's fantastic thank you :) I must think of ways to pay back the community now.

I remember http://www.razume.com/ being a useful (and free) service back in 2008, where many professional recruiters would give visual feedback and good advice. Not sure what it is like now (seems more crowd-sourced), but maybe be worth a try.

Great offer ! Here is mine : http://cv.david.cx

Also, I'm a French citizen seeking employment in the US (Orlando, Florida to be precise), do you have some special advice for what I should change in my CV in regard to this ?

I've only had a quick look but like everyone else, I will have a detailed look over the next few days.

Firstly, my market is London & the South East of England so advice on modifying your CV to suit the American market is probably best fielded by someone with more experience in that area.

Secondly, you have been working on your own company for over a year and you have surmised that experience in 45 words whereas you spent 6 months with INA and your description for your time there is almost 90 words. Simple things like that raise a concern in my mind about your current position and how relevant it may be to your career.

Thank you ! That's a great point. I'll try to change that. Don't hesitate to give me more feedback, if you have time, of course.

do you have any generally applicable advice based on your past experience and the responses you've received so far?

i'm attempting to write my first CV as a developer applying for an open position and am feeling a bit overwhelmed.

thanks for the offering up your expertise!

General advice is quite difficult.

If you're looking for structural ideas, take a look at user24's CV that he linked below. His structure is ideal. Simplistic and logical but make sure you read the feedback I gave him on listing his responsibilities.

Once you have the CV put together, send it to me and I'll do my best to be as constructive as possible as it's much easier to advise when referencing a specific CV.

That is a great offer KoZeN, especially for those that are currently seeking a job...

Thanks, I just hope people will be patient with me as the response has been immense!

As a recruiter I get frustrated when I hear about great candidates not even getting a look-in purely because of their CV.

Unfortunately few people are willing to pay to get their CV reviewed because a lot of people believe that it's purely a matter of opinion which can vary from employer to employer which is essentially true but there are a lot of fundamental errors that are universal and that's the advice I'm hoping to offer.

Giving private feedback seems like a wasted opportunity to share your knowledge widely. Would you consider publishing somewhere both the CVs and your assessments, after removing personal data and companies names? Thanks.

I am actually studying financial mathematics, so my resume might be up your alley, www.ivanbercovich.com/resume. I have been working on this piece of paper for quite some time, so I hope you like it.

Is this a good opportunity for identity theft?

Not really.

As stated in the original post, I'm prefectly fine with people censoring their personal details as well as employer details. If you believe that a CV can furnish you with enough info to steal peoples identity then pay a job site $100 and you will get instant access to tens of thousands of CV's.

A recruiter collecting a big pile of resumes? - Imagine that! Call me a cynic, but I hope the motivations here are pure or at least balanced.

The logical critic in you will assume I'm offering to do this in order to generate leads or recruits and to counter-act that, I have no problem with you removing your personal details and even censoring company names.

If one single member of this website comes back to this page and complains that I abused this oportunity for my own personal gain then I will officially hold my hands up and accept the title as 'Worlds Biggest Idiot'. If you click my username you can clearly find my full name as well as the name of the company I work for. A quick google search with that info will furnish you with the address of the office I work from along with my direct line number.

Considering the fact that my career would be at stake, do you honestly believe I would abuse peoples trust like that?

He mentioned he's fine with people removing their contact information from them

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