Vukoje's blog about software development

CV trash talk

Last few months Soprex was hiring new people which also meant I had to:

  • read a lot of CV-s
  • hold technical interviews
  • judge people
  • neglect my regular duties


As you can guess I wasn't too happy about it because I had other important staff to do and I don't like judging people, especially not based on some resume.  But still, this is a small effort compared to potential impact on our firm. Last thing you want to do is to misjudge people and spend few months getting them in the business to find out that it is not going to work out.

David Parnas said:

Q: What is the most often-overlooked risk in software engineering?

A: Incompetent programmers. There are estimates that the number of programmers needed in the U.S. exceeds 200,000. This is entirely misleading. It is not a quantity problem; we have a quality problem. One bad programmer can easily create two new jobs a year. Hiring more bad programmers will just increase our perceived need for them. If we had more good programmers, and could easily identify them, we would need fewer, not more.


CV content

The whole CV evaluation process would be much simpler if CV-s I have read were better written. When I open a CV I want to see candidate's:

  1. Age
  2. Picture
  3. Education
  4. Working history and experience
    • names of the companies and employment period
    • projects on which candidate has worked on, with short description of project domain, used technologies and candidate's role in project

I was horrified to find out that most of CV-s didn't include information about candidate age nor his/hers picture. You might argue that these are not relevant factors but I think they are, especially once you want to build picture about some person in few minutes.

Information about education was usually present but it was usually encrypted in English form so we were constantly guessing which colleague candidate meant.

On the other hand, working experience is the key information and it was almost always present in some form. If we had additional questions or misunderstandings regarding it we called candidates on the phone to ask them additional questions to get a clearer picture.


CV trash talk

With all this badly written CV-s and my other responsibilities, I was trying to make a person assessment keeping in mind that great engineers don't necessarily write great CV-s.

Above all listed problems one really annoyed me, the corporate trash talk. The worse the candidate was there was more trash talk. It turned out that every candidate:

  • is motivated to work in dynamic environment
  • is eager to learn new technologies and advance
  • works great under pressure
  • is a team player
  • has excellent communication and organizational skills
  • is self-motivated and self-organized
  • ...

Disaster... I am not sure why is this corporate trash talk culture happening but it’s definitely out there. One thing is for sure, it is not the truth nor relevant and I don't want to read it.

The horrible truth


At some point I started to nag to my manager that I don't want to see any CV ever again. So she showed me the horrible truth... my own CV.

Oh my God! I haven't seen it for almost 3 years and it was horrible. No I'm not going to show it to you. I will just show you a small quote (trash) from it:

My Objective:

To use my IT knowledge, theoretical and practical software development and management skills in dynamical environment which will give me opportunity to advance in further professional carrier.


Lesson learned

Guess what I learned is that you can't really judge a person by his resume but at the end you have to. You must try to read between the lines (trash) and you must not hesitate to spend a lot of time on it because new employees can make a huge difference. You might be getting your new super-problem-solving-best-friend or your worst nightmare. 

Missing data gathering also turned out to be useful. Few minutes of talk over the phone can make much difference in understanding some resume and making better and faster decisions. It would probably help if we created some CV template or little guide for writing it.

In the effort to follow my own CV advices I have updated my objectives.

My new objectives:

  1. To satisfy customer with the simplest solution
  2. To get better at it