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John Sansom - SQL Server DBA in the UK

John Sansom (Blog | Twitter) is a Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) of SQL Server and publisher of the free SQL community ebook DBA JumpStart, an inspiring collection of advice for Data Professionals, written by 20 SQL Server experts. Awarded the Microsoft Community Contributor(MCC) award, John is a prolific blogger and can be found regularly writing about SQL Server and Professional Development over at www.johnsansom.com.

How To Write an Interview Winning CV

Writing a CV that rocks is not an art. It just requires some planning and an understanding of what you want your CV to achieve for you.

Of course therein also lies the problem because of lot folks are not exactly sure what they want their CV to do for them. This is why you will often see resumes that have every single technology feature a candidate has ever encountered listed, or why the hiring manager is reading a CV that is eight pages long and wondering when the pain of this monstrosity will all be over. The truth of course is the hiring manager never even read it and instead simply moved immediately on to the next resume without giving it a further thought.

Do you want your CV to be one that gets overlooked? Of course not!

I’m going to share with you exactly what you need to do in order to create an interview winning CV for a Database Administrator (DBA), Data Professional or any other darn profession you can think of for that matter! What prompted such an awesome display of generosity you ask? Well there is a story behind it (alluded to here) that you can ask me about next time we meet but for now let’s just pretend it’s because I’m a super nice chap.

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of KISS. Not the awesome rock band but rather the principle of Keep It Simple Stupid! So for your reading pleasure I have compressed a wealth of winning resume writing knowledge into 4 simple rules. I know, impressive right.

In order to ensure that your CV gives you the best possible chance of securing your next interview it MUST be:

  1. Readable
  2. Relevant
  3. Accurate
  4. Valuable

Let’s take a look at each rule in a little more detail to find out exactly what is required.

1. Readable

Your CV should be a pleasure to read. It should be an effortless experience for the reader, enabling them to immediately zone in on precisely the information they seek. The language you use should be concise and to the point. You’ve got a limited amount of space to use in order to sell yourself and you want to do so within two pages. That’s right, your CV should be two pages maximum. Anything more and you are not being concise or relevant enough.

In summary some of the points you will want to consider are:

  • Scannable – Is your resume easy on the eye? Can the reader easily locate information?
  • Concise – Stay on point. Be specific and don’t waffle.
  • Incorporate bulleted lists – These will improve the structure of your content, making it scannable and easier to consume.
  • Consider font choice
  • Two page limit

2. Relevant

Include only what is relevant to the “specific” role you are targeting your CV for. It can be tempting to list each and every skill that you may have, you might be putting your resume forward for a number of different opportunities but if the skills are not relevant then they won’t demonstrate value(see 4.Value below) to the reader. The irony of a catch all resume is that it will actually get you nothing. It’s demonstrably lazy. Don’t do it!

In summary some of the points you will want to consider are:

  • Be specific – Include ONLY the information pertinent to the role.
  • Don’t include references – You’ll be asked for them if and when needed. Use the space for “valuable” content.
  • Exclude personal interests – Your personality will come across/be promoted during the interview.

3. Accurate

The invention of the Spellchecker was a wonderful thing folks, so there really is no excuse for spelling mistakes or poor grammar. All good Data Professionals have excellent attention to detail, fail to get this one right and you’re pretty much just demonstrating that you don’t have what it takes.

In summary some of the points you will want to consider are:

  • Spelling and Grammar – Check it, double check it, get someone else to proof read.
  • Accuracy of facts and information – SQL 2007 anyone?

4. Valuable

Why should I hire you? You know SQL Clustering, so what! Why is that of use to me as a business owner? Demonstrate the business value you have delivered because of what you know or have done. Simply listing technology and skills is boring. Take your CV to the next level by clearly showing the reader how you delivered value using what you know. Be factual in your delivery and mind you don’t take it to the other extreme or you’ll end up coming across as boastful. The emphasis required on demonstrable financial value for a Sales Director is going to be a lot more than is needed for BI Developer. You need to find the right balance for your market.

In summary some of the points you will want to consider are:

  • Expertise – Demonstrate your value through the results of your actions that were enabled by your skills.
  • Key Achievements – Make a point of highlighting your big wins and achievements. Deployed an entire DR solution protecting assets work £x million? Tell the reader.
  • Demonstrable value – Revenue, costs savings, business awareness. What makes you an asset to have on staff?
  • Passion – Show your love of technology(or chosen field) and for learning.

Keep It Simple

There you have it, four simple rules you should make sure your CV follows to give you the best possible chance of winning that next interview spot.

What do you think is important to creating an interview winning CV?

Best of luck with your job search!

More Professional Development Posts

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