back to article IT job seekers can't smell spell

Job applicants seeking technology jobs often make basic spelling and grammar mistakes while writing their CVs. Some even misspell the name of the technologies and products they're meant to be experts in, which might be why 23 per cent of people admit they get someone else to write their CV. Recruiters said there were five …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. James Le Cuirot
    Thumb Down

    Casual dress

    Meh. I'm merely a lowly coder myself but I've had to give a few interviews. If they turn up in a suit, I have to question whether they're a real coder. Admittedly I work from home most of the time but I haven't worn a suit since my graduation.

    Lack of basic grammar, however, does bother me. If they're that sloppy in their writing, can I expect the same sloppiness in their code?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You're off my interview list then

      If you cannot be arsed to put the effort in and turn up at an interview in decent clothes, appropriate for an interview (and I mean interview, NOT general working), then you probably cannot be arsed to turn up and put the effort in at your job. Notice I said probably, but it's an immediate warning sign to me.

      Your dress does NOT indicate how good a coder you are. I know very good coders who dress smart, and very good coders who dress down at work - but they all turned up at interview dressed appropriately.

      Bad grammar and spelling in CV's don't usually make it past the HR filter.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        CV's, CVs and Grocer's' apostrophe's

        "Bad grammar and spelling in CV's don't usually make it past the HR filter."

        However, it's clear that your HR department isn't very good when it comes to grocers' apostrophes.

        Take some advice from Bob the Angry Flower:

      2. Anonymous Coward

        The other AC beat me to it!

        Bad spelling in CV's what? It's "CVs", *not* "CV's". How did your CV got though the HR nets (an utter waste of time and money IMHO) exactly? Must have been your sharp suit...

        1. SuperNintendoChalmers
          Thumb Up

          I never do this but I can't resist this time.

          Surely you mean "How did your CV *get* through"?

          1. fatchap


            Of course an apostophe can be used to indicate a contraction so using CV as a shortend version of Curriculum Vitae means that an apostrophe can be used pefectly adequately here.

            1. Anonymous Coward


              Sorry, but no, "CV" isn't a contraction. "CV" is a type of abbreviation called an 'initialism' or an 'acronym'; e.g. *C*urriculum *V*itae or *Ra*dio *D*etection *A*nd *R*anging. Since it's definitely not a contraction, "CV's" suggests ownership.

              (I've proofed this one this time!)

            2. Anonymous Coward

              Oh dear...

              Apostrophes aren't used to indicate plurals, "contraction" or otherwise. If I were to read a sentence that included "CV's", I'd think you'd suddenly started referring to someone with the initials "C" and "V" , or perhaps you meant "CV is", "CV was" or whatever (neither of which would make sense).

              Surely if you're using an apostrophe to indicate that "itae" is missing from "Vitae", you should also be using an apostrophe to show that "Curriculum" has been shortened to "C"? So, instead of your wretched "CV's", you should actually be writing "C'V's". And instead of "BBC", we should all start writing "B'B'C'".

            3. disgruntled yank

              big endian or little?

              Surely one uses periods for abbreviations, apostrophes for contractions, and a fairly small and settled list of the latter. Else one may get the shortend of the stick.

          2. Anonymous Coward


            That'll teach me to be smug!

    2. Steve X

      casual dress

      I'd say it always pays to turn up *slightly* overdressed for an interview. If you know that jeans & T-shirt is normal day wear then arriving in a shirt & tie, perhaps no jacket, and with polished shoes (equivalent situation applies for female candidates, of course) at least shows that you:

      a) Can make an effort when you want to.

      b) Would probably be safe to send to talk to an important customer.

      which are two pretty important skills in any candidate I'd want to hire. As always, it's first impressions that count. If your interviewer likes polished shoes, then trainers get you off to a bad start. Few people *don't* like polished shoes, so no harm done to go upscale a little.

      No need to go the full three-piece suit with bowler, FT & brolly, of course, unless you're looking for a job with a bonus^H^H^H^Hank.

    3. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      Always wear a suit to an interview!

      I once remember reading an article by record producer, Chris wotnot who did the Marillion albums on getting a job in the studio, "If you want to get into the studio as a techie, be prepared to be a tea-boy as your first job and always wear a suit to the interview. You may never wear one ever again in your life, you may have to beg, steal or borrow your Dad's suit, but if you make an effort to dress smart you tell the employer you really want the job and are prepared to do anything to get it."

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        As the original poster of CV's

        The reason my CV got through, must be because, at no point, did I need to write CV's (or CVs) in my CV.

        Handy that.

        Thanks for the information on use or not of the apostrophe though. I'm still not convinced. Without the apostrophe, it just doesn't look right.

        Anyway, my main point was about the dress code at the interview. Bad grammar doesn't even get you that far.

        1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: As the original poster of CV's

          CV's is not the plural of CV. CVs may look wrong, but it isn't.

          There you are.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Ah, Sun

        Where Scott McNealy's riposte to a question on "is there a dress code" was: "Yes. You must."

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ever drop in on an IT interview... overdressed?

    I have. Just donning a natty suit might turn out to be actually dangerous for your prospects in IT.

    Whether I speel rite or not, well, I don't use a sleling chekcar except the mark I eyeball, though I daresay that I manage quite well, being able to find most errors at a glance including in native speakers' work, and I'm not even a native speaker of English. Not that it seems to matter just what I tell recruiters, I appear adept at turning them off. And that is after carefully vetting my CV and having it checked by, indeed, a native speaker with suitable CV writing experience.

    And of course plenty of job adverts contain silly gaffes, ranging from spelling via grammar via making no sense whatsoever to indeed asking^Wdemanding the impossible. Often enough the simplest way to get embarrased silence from a recruiter is calling them up and asking what sort of person the client is looking for.

    So I'm inclined to think that only the duds end up in recruiter land, regardless of on which side. That hypothesis appears to mesh well with the numbers, too.

    1. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Overdressed or spelling mistooks

      One place I worked, the course we had to go on *before* being allowed to interview candidates informed us that were were only to assess the technical content of CVs. We were not allowed to consider their appearance at interview, or their writing skills - as that could be considered discriminatory.

      Uhh, yes - we were trying to discriminate: the probables from the possibles.

      However the HR lady was adamant that this was THE LAW. As a consequence no-one ever got recruited and the place filled up with contractors. It cost three times as much, but at least we could ditch the crap ones. And yes, they did attend interviews in suits (and BMWs)

  3. Pinkerton


    Before selecting candidates for interview, I immediately throw away half of the CVs.

    This weeds out unlucky people.

    1. Robert Synnott


      Weeds out lucky people, surely? :) Nothing worse than wasting time interviewing with companies run by mad people.

      1. Hedley Phillips


        I think it may have been a joke...

        1. Anonymous Coward


          "I think it may have been a joke..."

          Indeed, it originally appeared in the Top Tips section of Viz, Circa 2005, thusly.

          "Employers, avoid employing unlucky people by simply throwing half of your applicant's CVs in the bin".

          Although oft' reported as "not as funny as it used to be", the Letters page and Top Tipssection of the publication are regularly stated to be the only reason anyone buys it anymore. Although, personally, I find The Drunken Bakers, 8 Ace and Roger's Profanisaurus to be a good read.

    2. Roger Greenwood

      You also need to spot those not good at pla

      nning ahead.

    3. Elmer Phud

      Seen this in action

      Saw it once when the manager of a small department was paper-sifting applications.

      About 2/3 went straight in the bin as they had photos attatched.

      "It was on the advert 'No Photo's' , if they can't fucking read the ad, which you'd have thought was important if they want the job, I don't want them working for me"

      1. Marvin O'Gravel Balloon Face

        about the photos...

        I remember one applicant (for a marketing post) sending a CV, the first page of which was an A4 picture of a tasty lady proudly displaying her assets.

        She didn't get the job, I can't recall now whether that was because it wasn't her on the picture or because she wasn't qualified...

  4. Nic Gibson

    'Interesting' English

    In various jobs over the last twenty years, I've been involved in hiring programmers several times. We advertised for a graduate role at one point. We received six hundred CVs for one job. Obviously, at that point you have to find some sort of winnowing method. We chose "proofread the covering letter" as our approach. Basic errors got rid of about 250 CVs that way. We did specify that writing skills and the ability communicate with clients were a priority for us. Ho hum.

    I'm not sure about the casual dress issue. It does indicate to some extent how much importance the applicant places on the interview. On the other hand, I'm generally looking to employ someone based on their programming skills and their ability to interact with coworkers so it's not exactly an issue for me.

    I met a chemical engineer the other day who told me that communications and writing skills are now part of many chemical engineering degrees. Is that the case with CS these days?

    1. Richard Taylor 2
      Thumb Down


      that you would notice....... Increased emphasis by universities on training rather than education and a willingness to let undergraduates get away without too much non technical broadening has not improved intakes.

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      @Nic Gibson

      > Is that the case with CS these days?

      I don't know really and neither do I care. What I do know, however, is my expectation that any graduate masters its written language (not more than one error per page). Whether other communication skills are required (e.g. client contact, work in team) depends on the job.

      That said, I hope writing and communication skills are part of the curriculum of ony proper degree.

      1. Liam Johnson

        Proper degree

        You mean like maths or physics?

  5. Craig (well, I was until The Reg changed it to Craig 16)


    I can understand the likes of project managers and others who have to talk to other departments/clients having to have very good communication skills but who cares if a techie with no business interaction requirements is a Quasimodo-like hermit with bad hygiene and even worse socialisation skills as long as he's good at his job?

    A good rule of thumb I work to is that the scruffiest techie in an IT department is usually the most valuable while the smartest dressed just wants to be a manager and screw the IT department. Not always true but works more often than not.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      a techie with no business interaction requirements who is a Quasimodo-like hermit with bad hygiene and even worse socialisation skills *can't* be good at his job, not in the modern development world (you do still get them kicking around from years ago though, because they have some arcane knowledge that can't be lost).

      The job of even the most die hard techie requires interaction with people outside of the techie circle, at least if they want to be anything other than an entry level code monkey! If you have a technical question, you don't want to have to filter it through a lot of different people, you want as direct a communication channel as possible. If you trust a project manager to handle all interactions with another department/client on your behalf, you're not off to a good start! Also, once you get beyond the basic code monkey stage, quite often you will have to walk through designs with a room full of people, or help analysts with their requirements gathering, attend change management boards, attend post project reviews, etc

      This sort of stereotype is exactly why techie jobs are being offshored, because if you have a code monkey with poor communication skills, it might as well be someone cheap and presentable, who just isn't a native language speaker.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Mark O

      Hidden hermits are OK but...

      The hermit types can be dangerous in my experience: We had a client who wanted to meet the engineer working on their project. All he had to do was put on a clean shirt and spend half an hour in a meeting room where he would face a few easy questions from the client team who also brought an engineer with them.

      He did fine, until the discussion turned to new features, and our smiling project manager put a hand on his shoulder and said something along the lines of "this is the guy - he'll take care of it." The engineer snapped back that he would get to it when he had the time since he had much more important projects to work on. The whole thing was shyly laughed off as the project was too far along for this to hurt the business, but it was a huge embarrassment for the rest of the team.

      Anyone with the most basic set of people skills, let alone business skills, would not have made such a comment in front of a client.

  6. Tony S

    It falls both ways

    I've had more than a few recruiters send me email / documents / pdfs where they have some real howlers. The obvious ones (your / you're, there / their) as well as some Freudian slips (my favourite - Microsoft Sexchange 2007)

    I also note that they are not careful about the info they put in the advert - I've recently seen an advert for a "Procjet Manager"

    I suppose that it is a symptom of the time - Jimmy Edwards would know what to do!

  7. Admiral Grace Hopper

    Attention to detail

    As this is a somehat important part of the job, it always pays to proofread. The guy who put "Martial Status: British" may have been attempting satire, but his CV was rejected at the first sifting anyway the last time that I got dragged into the hiring process.

    1. Gerry Doyle

      Irony abounds this and practically every other posting of this nature.

      Quis custodiet...

      1. Dan 10

        Martial Status: Karate

        That's all...

        1. Goat Jam

          That would have been funnier

          if you wrote it;

          Martial Status: Brown Belt

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Irony abounds

        Quite so. My glass house is somewhat draughty right now.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        Not really

        this is an informal forum, so the odd spelling and/or grammar mistake isn't the end of the world, amusing as it may be for those of an anal nature.

        The point is, if a candidate can't be arsed to use a tool built into his word process to spell and grammar check his cv, then how much will he be bothered to actually do the job he's being paid to.

        Every time I have this argument (as that's where it always ends), almost *everybody* misses the point. I couldn't give a sh1t if the candidate can spell or not. It matters not a jot to me. I really could not be less interested if you paid me. My point is that allowing one of the most important documents in a person to go through with an elementary error on it speaks volumes about the subjects attitude to life.

        I've mentioned this before on El Reg, and got some downvotes, but I don't care ... I've interviewed over 50 people in my career, and every successful candidate has been a positive asset to the company.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          I was just going to offer you a (very) high paying job being less interested.

        2. Gerry Doyle

          The point is...

          ...that in the normal run of things in an informal forum like this the odd spelling mistake certainly is not the end of the world, but in a thread decrying falling standards in literacy it does place a certain onus on posters to get it right themselves.

          As for not giving a shit about whether a candidate can spell or not as long as their CV looks right - how can they know it doesn't if they can't spell?

  8. Chika

    Excuses, excuses...

    Yes, badly formed CVs can affect chances of a person getting a job but there are a few issues I have with the implication of "irrelevant" items on a CV. First of all, bear in mind that a CV may be used for many job applications and will not be tailored to each one seperately, so what may be irrelevant on one may not be on another.

    Second, I am well aware that any excuse is used to reject in many cases, especially with many people chasing a limited supply of jobs. Before this, ageism was often used as an excuse, and other excuses have been used.

    In so many situations, the question has to be raised as to whether the person or people advertising the job are really up to the task. I've seen so many adverts for jobs where the requirements or people specs have been so unreasonable that it is a wonder that anyone applies at all! It is quite obvious in some cases that the advertiser is trying to get away with doing as little as possible in the employment of a new worker, expecting that new employee to do everything from training to transport.

    In fact, as I've moved from job to job over the years, I notice that we ordinary farties have to jump through so many additional hoops as time goes on that I wonder that any of us works anymore. Formal attire is the least of the worries I've had to deal with...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: a CV may be used for many job applications

      So write a master copy that includes absolutely everything that could possibly be relevant, and then go through snipping the irrelevant bits for each application before printing it. Why would a recruiter pay much attention to someone who is obviously taking a scatter-gun approach to finding a job when he's looking for /just the right person/ to fill his post?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      more excuses

      "bear in mind that a CV may be used for many job applications and will not be tailored to each one seperately"

      WTF!?!? If you can't be arsed tailoring your CV to the vacancy, you can't be all that interested in getting the job.

      A vaguely clueful employer or HR droid can spot this from miles away.

      1. Goat Jam


        Often, your CV will be placed "on file" at various agencies. In such a scenario, it makes no sense to tailor it to a particular role.

      2. Liam Johnson


        Why should you need to tailor your CV? Your CV should list your skills and experience. Removing irrelevant bits suggests you spent more time on the relevant parts that you actually did. This is a lie. Similarly you could "buff up" the relevant parts to make them stand out. Also a lie.

        I am aware that some people do this, but a sensible employer should not really require it. Just another reminder that the world is not populated with very many sensible people I suppose.

        1. Matt K

          Don't quite agree, sorry

          A CV should list skills relevant to the job. If I want someone with, say, SAP R/3 experience, I couldn't care less how well they know Oracle HR. At best I'll treat it as vaguely useful background on their all-round skills or ignore those bits of their CV. At worst I'll assume they didn't read the spec, or they did but couldn't be bothered to spend a few minutes tweaking their CV. When there's forty CVs to review for a job, the ones who at least look like they want it have already got a headstart towards getting an interview.

      3. The Alpha Klutz

        "If you can't be arsed tailoring your CV to the vacancy..."

        I may spend an hour writing a covering letter, but I will NOT change my CV.

        My CV gives an overview of my experience and capabilities, if these are considered to be "not relevant" then the recruiters can swivel on it. I don't apply to jobs I wouldn't be able to do.

        It seems to me that job specs are so specific now that the only person 'properly qualified' to get the job, is the person who just left it. This is tragic, as some people have this stupid-ass thing they do called learning that SHOCK employers can use to their benefit! Imagine that, people can learn. Wouldn't have fucking guessed it would you?

        Furthermore, I actually take pride in sending off a CV and covering letter without spelling errors. Do I ever get an email back from anyone? No I fucking don't.

        1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: "If you can't be arsed tailoring your CV to the vacancy..."

          Pretty much everything in this comment is correct. What a rarity.

        2. peyton?

          re: if you can't be arsed...

          I don't understand.... I've been a sysadmin and a developer. If I want to apply for a web-dev position, I could highlight that I'm also good with Photoshop, and so can help on both ends of a web site's development (a plus for small organizations that don't have a dedicated graphics dept).

          If I apply for a sysadmin position, why would I waste valuable CV space rambling on about how I'm good with Photoshop? Who cares??

  9. GrahamS

    "object-orientated programing"

    2 strikes, you're out! *throws CV in bin*


  10. Anonymous Coward

    My Favourite

    The man who applied for at job at my company telling us he had many years experience with Oracle Sewer.

    That application got flushed away.

    1. LateNightLarry
      Black Helicopters

      My Favourite

      Or since I'm on the other side of the pond, My Favorite...

      Some years ago when I was doing the preliminary screening of job applications for the local office of a very large Federal government agency (for a non technical position), I read one application which said the applicant's last job was as a custodian at Terminal Island. His reason for leaving that job? End of sentence.

      Terminal Island is a Federal prison near Los Angeles, and he had just completed a sentence in prison, and was released on parole. He wasn't hired for the custodian job he applied for, not because he wasn't qualified, but because he couldn't pass the background check. The agency had a policy of not hiring anyone on probation or parole.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Think the IT sector is bad?

    You should see the people who apply for jobs in publishing, especially consumer tech and videogames.

    Innapropriate attire is a common one, I've seen candidates wearing army combat trousers. Baed speiling n gramer is also disappointingly commonplace. Except it's not just limited to CVs, have to read through terrible reviews and short stories, too.

    Applicants include 17 year old kids with no experience or qualifications who want a job playing games, socially incompetent nerds with a fear of showering and utter mentalists. One chap threatened to sue if the company didn't return the awful fan fiction he'd used as a portfolio.

    Paris 'cos she's frequently under-dressed.

  12. Matt K

    Sometimes not the candidates' fault

    I've seen more than a few CVs that were clearly hacked about by a recruitment consultant with no clue. And once or twice I've seen CVs where their job titles had clearly been rewritten to meet the job spec, despite the actual experience being for different jobs. Ended up with one very angry candidate when we pointed out what his recruitment consultant had done...

    1. Seanmon
      Thumb Up


      A lot of recruitment agencies are actually a barrier to getting/offering a job rather than an assistance. From the candidate's side, it's a pure box-ticking exercise to get folk into an interview and claim the cut. On the employer's side , they very rarely have a clue what you actually need, especially in techie jobs.

      Full of shit too. I once had an agency phone me up out of the blue and offer me pretty much the exact job I was doing with a 5K rise. Turned out the job was actually at my company to join my team. I'd written the damn spec!

      1. Stumpy


        @Ja: "Full of shit too. I once had an agency phone me up out of the blue and offer me pretty much the exact job I was doing with a 5K rise. Turned out the job was actually at my company to join my team. I'd written the damn spec!"

        ... if it were me, I'd have applied ... just to see the look on my boss' face.

        1. Seanmon

          re: Ja

          I did apply - the extra 5K was pure fabrication by the agency. Boss went absolutely apeshit at them.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well, did you get the raise for ditching some responsibility?

        On another note, I'm amazed there aren't more companies just ditching recruiters and putting out ads themselves. Especially in Blighty. What's stopping them? Are HR departments to be assumed worse than recruiters?

  13. Paul 87

    Well duh...

    All the points given are basic interviewing advice, I'm surprised at some of the comments so far that try to argue against them. Well, actually not surprised, this is after all the Internet where people will argue against *anything*, particularly "IT Professionals" who are used to being more right than you.

    1. Goat Jam

      Argue against anything?

      Sir, I challenge that assertion!

  14. badgers

    "No clear demonstration of technical skills"

    Most of the recruiters I've ever dealt with didn't understand what technical skills were required for the job in the first place. I've seen IT Manager positions that required the ability to code in javascript, but no requirement to understand what active directory is.

    And if the recruiter starts asking about acronyms, you know you're in luck.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. The Fuzzy Wotnot

      Not all recuiters are vultures

      I once went for an interview arranged by a recruiter, the agency insisted I go into the agency offices for a "pre-flight check" before the job interview. I was glad I did, we did three mock interviews and they gave me quite a few pointers on my posture and poor communication skills, I succeeded in getting the job. I still use quite a few of those interview tips I learned that day.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably unremarkable

    "So while 82 per cent of IT pros reckon they're good at interviews, some 66 per cent of recruiters said they'd seen candidates with poor communication skills during the interview process."

    That remark seems to infer a disparity which appears not to exist. If 82% of candidates have good communication skills, and if "the interview process" involves on average 5.5 candidates then the probability that any given interviewer will have seen at least one candidate with poor communication skills is 66%.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Not just Grads, Pro's too

    Had a IT company in recently, we are snowed and want some work done, ok we'll send someone...

    Guy turns up, long pony tail, leather jacket..

    ok, fine, good for geeks...

    Two weeks of chasing the report and it came through with more spelling mistakes than I care to mention (I'm dyslexic and I picked up on them!)

    Needless to say, if that's the report to get our business, I'm not hiring.

    Christ knows how slack they'll be when they come to do the actual job.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    If someone doesn't do at least some CV tuning for the type of role,....

    then they go in the "obviously not interested enough to put a little effort in" pile. If you apply for a network job, put in a network skill-weighted CV in.

  18. John G Imrie

    My bad spelling

    and crap grammar landed me 8 interviews and two job offers in the first two weeks of January.

    It even got commented in the interviews of the two companies that offered the jobs. So maybe it only matters if you only know Microsoft Products


    Happily programming Perl since 5.006 came out.

    1. Sir Cosmo Bonsor


      "My bad spelling...and crap grammar landed me 8 interviews and two job offers in the first two weeks of January."

      "Happily programming Perl since 5.006 came out."

      I'll just leave this here.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Delighted to see that this time most contributors have put some effort into their messages, and that the spelling, grammar and punctuation is better than usually seen.

    Well done, chaps and ms-chaps! Keep up this standard!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    in some IT jobs inappropriate==suit

    Last time I took part in interviewing we tried very hard not to penalise the ones that turned up inappropriately dressed in suits. It was almost always due to a clueless recruiter giving bad advice. Last time I had an office job it mattered in, notice went round the day before customer visits to dress smarter - essentially swap the t-shirt for a shirt and leave the torn jeans at home!

    As a dyslexic, spelling impaired and grammar challenged programmer I know none of that is incompatible with being a good programmer. Not taking extra care fixing your CV is bad, shows a lack of attention to detail, which *is* incompatible with being a good programmer. To be honest I'd rather notice problems with English upfront though, really don't want to hire someone who ends up writing documentation!

    1. Kubla Cant

      Inappropriate for what?

      It doesn't matter what's appropriate for the job. You wouldn't expect flippers if you were interviewing divers.

      The point is that a suit is the normal attire for an interview. Your company may be different, but that's not something a candidate can easily find out.

      Wearing a suit minimizes the chance of being penalised for inappropriate dress. To wear something else shows poor risk-assessment ability - something that should be important when hiring programmers.

  21. Matt Gerrish


    Many moons ago, when running my own small PC repair firm, I had a CV sent to me in the mail.

    Among the bullet points, the author proudly proclaimed

    'IT illiterate'

    I had to give him a call and explain that no, I couldn't offer him a job, and that he might want to proof read his CV before sending it out to anyone else.

  22. Pahhh

    A fair effort I think is all that is required

    Ive recruited engineers for over 16 years and I consider myself to be pretty harsh but no way near as draconian as some of the posters above.

    I expect people to make an effort dressing for an interview. It dont have to be a great suit but you ought to wear one. You dont need to look good in it (most programmers somehow look wrong in them) but you need to try. Like other people said , if you cant be bothered why should I.

    Again I expect people to put some effort into their CV but I also recognise not everyone is that good at spelling / grammar so I accept that some things may slip through. I'm not that good myself. I've got some great developers who can't spell to save their lives and other than some mispelt variables in the code which can be irrating, doesnt interfere with their work.

    What I cant accept is BS or plain lies on CVs.

  23. Kevan

    Cause and effect?

    "Some even misspell the name of the technologies and products they're meant to be experts in, which might be why 23 per cent of people admit they get someone else to write their CV"

    Perhaps the misspellings were due to using "professional" CV writers who don't have a clue about the IT business.

  24. Bassey

    Unreasonable Job Specs

    Just a quick heads up on unreasonable jobs specs - where the job spec appears to be the definition of an individual rather than a broad set of skills.

    It looks like that because that is what it is. The company already has an individual to fill the job. However, whether it be because of work permit issues or because policy states they have to advertise all positions (common for government or Council jobs), they are still advertising the role but in such a manner as to ensure their "guy" is the only suitable candidate. Work permit giveaways are often "must be fluent in English and <INSERTSOMELANGUAGE>".

    If you see something like that it is almost certainly not worth your effort applying.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Ref: Unreasonable Job Specs

      Personally I like the HR dreamed up lists of contra-indicating qualifications, or stating that the candidate MUST HAVE at least 10 years experience, in a programming language that has only existed for 8 years.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Attention to irrelevant details!

    I'm going to cut and paste a line from a CV I have here applying for a sysadmin job. It comes under qualifications:-

    "Shooting Qualification (25M Rifle Ranges and Training) enabling me to run any MOD rifle range"

    So, wondering if this is a threat to shoot me if he doesn't get the job.

    If you are reading this comments column, and you recognise the above qualification as your own, may I take this opportunity to say your application is progressing well :)

    1. Dan 10


      It's not mine, but I recall from the Air Cadets (I was 14) that the above qualification (25 metre range) can be gained by kids. Ask him if he could pass a 300m weapons test! :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        He's talking about an RCO qualification. Cadets can't hold an RCO's certificate or NSRA equivalents to the best of my knowledge.

        /A former cadet that kept shooting with a civil rifle club

      2. James Hughes 1

        I've shot from 300m

        Without a scope, with an SLR (there, that dates me!) - range at RNAS Yoevilton, I think it was

        I think I was lucky to hit the target at all, never mind anywhere dangerous - could hardly see the damn thing, and to think the range went on for another 700m behind me....

        Ahh, good old days.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          With an armed forces background will have shot on a 300m range as part of their basic training. Even with ironsights, it's not that difficult to hit a target at 300m. I'm also talking from experience.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Attention to irrelevant details!

      Not so sure

      Having run an app. support team, I can think of a number of users, and their managers, who should be on the recieving end of a range qualified sysadmin.

      (is ammuntion a tax deductable expense? or an employee benefit?)

  26. jason 7

    I like getting job applications sent to me.

    Here is one I got last week. No title or salutation, the application in full is (as copied from the email) -

    "I can install PC, upgrades and any software. Can solve every problem. 2 yaers experience. £10 per hour is acceptable for me. Do you have job for me?"

    And that was it. Top man I reckon.

    I also like the ones that give their email address as "" or "turboboy".

    Kids these days just aren't trained to think about what they are doing. They are just coached to pass exams. Hopeless.

    Joanna Lumley is right.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    I used to..

    I used to work for a University in the dim and distant past. The final year students attempts at writing their CVs were simply awful.

    The most common mistake was to mis-spell CURRICULUM VITAE in enormous type on the top of the CV. They would typically go on to spell the name of the university incorrectly. It kind of went downhill after that.

  28. DrXym

    3 pages or less

    Format of my CV is:

    1. Name, address, email, phone nr

    2. Short description of my problem solving / thinking skills.

    3. Bulleted list of current skills. It's very important to name drop specific skills because agencies will do keyword searches

    4. History of companies worked for. More info is supplied for more recent jobs. Old jobs can be relegated to a couple of lines.

    5. Other personal stuff, marital status, date of birth etc.

    It all fits on 3 pages, 14pt arial despite 20 years of development work. It shouldn't be hard to maintain a CV once you write one. It's best to keep it terse, and well formatted since you can always elaborate in interviews.

    Once you have a CV upload it to Monster and the other usual places. Keywords are especially important because the first people to eyeball your CV are likely to be agencies. If you don't turn up in the keyword searches they won't bother ringing you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Some sort of law here ...

      I've 25 years experience and a *2* page cv, which has done me OK.

      Conversely I've seen school leavers with 10-page cvs ....

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: 3 pages or less

      This is great if you have done a fairly linear career, and are looking for more of the same.


      If you have a diverse set of skills and experience, and the post advertised comes with a long list of required skills and experience, as we are going to bet the farm on this.......

      On the applying end the candidate gets whinged at for the CV being too long, or whinged at for it lacking suffcient detail.

      On the hiring end, I'm wanting to bet the company's future on getting a complex project in on time, scope and budget, and all I get is a bunch of CV that tell me what they did in their last couple of years, nothing about breadth and depth of experience. (2 good projects could be good skills or good luck, where's the rest?)

      1. Dave Lawton

        Re: 3 pages or less

        Got to agree with this.

        If you are applying via recruitment agencies, you might get away with 4, I am (just).

        Worth doing a spreadsheet based skills matrix, with the job skills highlighted, to use as a follow-up.

        Just my 2p worth.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      I would add

      Stick to 2-3 pages, remember the person reading your CV is only likely to spend 90 seconds at the most reading your life story, so it has to be concise.

      List your primary skills in a quick and easy to read matrix at the start of the CV, the recruiter or interviewer can see immediately if you have what they need you will likely make it into the "will see" pile. You can bang on about your understanding of obscure filesystem formats later on in the CV or at the interview.

      Always make sure there are no unaccounted for gaps in the times of your previous positions. I got to an interview once and all the interviewer did for 5 mins was berate me about 3 months unaccounted for paternity leave, which I had taken and financed with my own savings!

      Keep your CV up to date, especially after you finish a long project. Trim off the fat from your CV as well. No one really needs to know your first job was as a local swimming pool life guard, when your 45 and going for a Unix sysadmin position!

      Always put the references on the last sheet on their own. The agencies will butcher your CV to remove the references to stop the company contacting you directly and bypassing the finder's fees. Make it easy and your CV will get to the company in one piece. I once had an agency butcher my CV to remove details they didn't want passed on. This goes for you contact details too, make it easy for them to remove quickly and easily without wrecking your carefully formatted CV document.

      Keep your personal interests to two or three lines, collecting antique S&M gear as a hobby is not something that I would wish to read an novel about!

  29. batfastad


    If I'm setting up a recruitment website, all I need to do is make up some stats and I get some free publicity?

  30. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    I got my current post via a good recruiter and interview.

    Browsing on Edugeek one afternoon, knowing I had to move on before long, and saw a position in my field. Emailed the guy a query, he asked for my CV. Emailled my CV (updated the night before, absolutely NO errors) and got a "pre-screening" interview immediately. Within ten minutes of the interview, I had him thanking me because I beat all his other potential candidates by miles.

    1) I had a CV relevant to the job, not just a generic thing.

    2) I knew what the acronyms meant and could provide a real-life example of my use and understanding of them.

    3) I could speak on his level - he was technical but not a technician, if you get what I mean, and I could easily translate "geek" to English when asked.

    4) I was well-presented and professional.

    Went to the interview, with both the recruiter and his client there, and came up against two very technical employees who would be my bosses - worst nightmare because you either have to struggle to keep up yourself, or you end up having to correct them on technical points. They had a 24-point list of projects they wanted to do. I'd done all of them in the past, to the point where I was naming software I'd used/written, problems I'd run into, and *they* skipped the last eight because they were already answered by the previous 16.

    I was wearing a shirt and trousers, no tie, no shined shoes, but "neat and tidy". You'd get into nightclub but probably not into the Oscars.

    Got the job. Got told I was the most impressive candidate by miles. It's a private school with a strict dress code, which I tend to ignore on the whole because, as I explained in the interview, I'm more likely to be pushing cables through a hole, or hunting down the back of dusty machines than I am meeting parents (i.e. clients) face-to-face. Of course, if they *want* me to greet parents in a ripped suit with huge dust marks all over the knees, that's fine. I don't think I've ever worn anything as "smart" for work since the interview.

    You don't need a huge suit to get a job. You need to be *presentable*, you need a good CV that you've had several dozen people check for you (amazing how many people are ashamed of their CV and/or secretive of it in case I copy it), you need to be the right person for the job. You *don't* need to be in a suit.

  31. Phil the Geek

    Dear sir

    I once received a CV with a cover letter starting with "Dear Sir or Madman". Oh the dangers of spell-checkers.

    Someone who made it as far as an interview only asked questions about the contacts he might make in the job and then when his mobile rang mid-interview he answered it and had a conversation with the caller. He didn't get the job either.

  32. Anonymous Coward


    wot else do the progs have to spell?

  33. Joe Montana

    CV errors...

    I see a lot of CVs with spelling mistakes, and there are the 2 classic types - the blatantly wrong words which suggest the candidate doesn't even know how to use a spell checker, and situations where the words are spelled correctly but aren't appropriate in context - so clearly the candidate has used a spell checker, and blindly relied upon its suggestions.

    I also see cases where words are spelled in the american way, perhaps people unable to change the default language in their spell checker...

    Length and listing of irrelevant skills aren't really a problem, provided they are not lengthy for the sake of being so, and listing pointless skills... If someone has been around for years and lists 10 pages of previous positions so be it.

    Listing a large number of IT skills is good, even if they're applying for a position which doesn't require those skills it's useful to know you have those skills inhouse incase things change in the future. Also someone with a wide range of skills is likely to be able to pick up new things more easily than someone who is pigeonholed into a small niche and unwilling/unable to look at anything new.

    I also hate CVs which are sent as word documents, especially those which include macros...

    How someone dresses doesn't really matter, so long as they are clean, i have been forced to interview people who are filthy and smell very bad. I would rather interview someone dressed casually so that they feel more comfortable, if you put them under pressure and make them nervous you might not get the best out of them.

    1. Greg Adams 2

      Word documents

      I am searching for jobs as we speak and it seems the HR types prefer and sometimes even ask for Word documents. If you have this preference, please state it in the description as I can't read your mind. In either case, who would add a macro to a resume?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        macro viruses come to mind

        Or perhaps corporate "standard" macrosets? I dunno.

        I have gotten bitchy replies "and you ALSO FAILED to provide your cv in word!" that they incidentally didn't specify they wanted in the ad for a Unix bod. In fact, I use any mention of micros~1 technology as a negative filter when job hunting. If you want someone with deep technical skills running your server park you don't also want him to play first level support. Or if you do I don't want to work for you; tried that once and still suffering the sanity loss.

        So if you want to run a hi-tech company better keep your personnel department in check. Don't let them add the "and office programs!" under your carefully crafted job requirements spec. Don't let them use recruiters. And make sure their expectations match what's /usance/ in the world of the "human resources" they're supposed to be fussing over.

  34. AdamWill

    Well, that's no problem, is it?

    They can just get a job writing for The Reg.

  35. Eddy Ito

    Thank the gods and little fishes

    Poor spelling is perhaps the single largest bane of good coding. I can't tell you how many times I've seen "foo" and "bar" initialized as different variables. FFS, it's "FUBAR"! How is anyone down the road going to maintain a steaming heap like that? To make matters worse, they are often commented out and that's frequently both printf statements! Programmers, an infuriating lot!

  36. mike_anderson25
    Paris Hilton

    Want to improve your people skills?

    Simply work in retail for a year or so. What you have to put up with as a frontline salesman defies belief sometimes and believe me when I say that your patience is sorely tested on a regular basis and if you can't explain something in a way that Joe Blow is going to understand, Joe will lose his shit at you. Oh and you can kiss you extended warranty and extra commission goodbye.

    Paris, for every customer that asked me "So I'm looking for that thing to connect to my computer" *head explodes*

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't know the equivalent in the UK.

    But if you get a CV from a Univ. of Phoenix graduate, remove it from any binding and use it to make paper airplanes or confetti. You'll save yourself lots of pain and money.*

    * In my experience. YMMV.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Job hunting at the moment, and was complimented by a recruitment agent on my "very professional attitude". When I asked what in particular had given him that view (always nice to get feedback on the good aspects as well as the bad) he told me the following:

    My CV had been spell checked, and was written in plain English with good grammar

    I had checked with him what dress code for the interview

    I'd taken a printed copy of the job spec and my CV to the interview, with items I'd thought relevant highlighted

    I'd planned my journey the day before, and left plenty of contingency time in case of delays

    I'd had my phone switched off during the interview

    All these things I thought were just plain common sense, absolutely standard practice for interviews, but apparently the fact I'd done all of these was unusual!

    1. R J Tysoe
      Thumb Up

      Well done

      I'm sure you'll have 5 gold stars in no time

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Well done

      "All these things I thought were just plain common sense, absolutely standard practice for interviews, but apparently the fact I'd done all of these was unusual!"

      Well done for being switched on. Now you need to realise the truth of just how "switched off" everyone else is and you can start taking advantage of that fact.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Unfortunately no

        I'm never lucky enough - I must hold the record for coming second in job interviews, and I think I've heard just about every "tie breaker" reason possible for someone else getting the job ranging from someone internal got it, through the classic "overqualified" (i.e. manager thinks you're going to show him or her up) to the fact that the other person for this particular contraqct lived 5 minutes round the corner & I ad a long commute!

  39. maxthegreat
    Paris Hilton

    I love Nick Griffin

    Itz coz they is all forren innit.

    British jobs fr British idiots

  40. Anonymous Coward

    Playing to the referree,...

    You are actually being evaluated against the interviewers expectations / motivations which may not necessarily be the technical expectations of the job. I have seen some managers hire just because they liked the look of the person, not on skill set or interpersonal skills. I have also seen them reject competent ex-military types out-of-hand due to personal dislike.

    I myself got hired once because of one specific skillset I had, which enabled the manager to get rid of someone else they did not want who had the same skillset. (First thing I did after the other guy went was fob the responsibility off onto someone else and take on some real work.)

    Fortunately muppets like these are fairly few and far between but they are not an endangered species.

This topic is closed for new posts.