Great Engineers and Crap CVs

By: Lisa Sarny / 15 Jan 2015

Great engineers and crap CVs

What’s in a CV? Commercial candidates write articulate sales documents explicitly stating their contribution to revenue growth. Designers create beautiful horizontal info graphics with timelines. Financial profiles talk money in Arial and Arial Bold. But rarely in my years of technical recruiting have I seen a great CV from a great engineer.

CVs in LaTeX, text file, in code, 14 pagers, half pagers, listing all programming languages known to man and then some, a client logo for every gig their consulting company sent them on, or 2 pages outlining 20 years of experience by category rather than chronology (statistics, management, architecture, seriously?). I have been fortunate enough to hire these CV authors who are also great engineers.

Then there are those that got away, ahem; C/C++/C# bundled as if they were the same language, architected the architect’s architecture, hashtag guy who #prefixed #every #buzzword #with #a #hashtag #over #6 #lines, that photo of the shark from a fishing trip, and the world record holder for writing the most letters on a postcard – 130,000 if you were wondering.

The Criteo R&D recruitment team receives a few applicant CVs, not as many as we would like as we are not that well known (yet) but far more hires come from headhunted candidates and referrals. We are used to working with LinkedIn profiles, github contributions, blogs, as well as notes from our discussions about what you do and want to do.I have been known to present only the sparse LinkedIn and github profiles instead of the available (and horrible) CV kindly sent by the great engineer I have been hunting for months.

And our CV reviewers are more interested in seeing your code than what school you went to, or that you like cooking [Hiring Manager chiming in: SAY WHAAT ? Of course you get bonus points if you like cooking ! We just love home-baked cookies. Now if you “like hiking, reading and going to the movies”, then we couldn’t care less indeed, stop wasting pixels]. What we do want to know is what you have built, tuned, fixed, trashed, supported, delivered, designed and talked about. You rarely find that in a great engineer’s CV.

So what should you put in your CV ? What you do now, for whom, since when, in chronological order. What you did (not we did), how big complex fast and cool it was, why it mattered, and how to find other things you did online. Yes your education is relevant, but it’s not that important that it has to take up the first half of the first page. And even then, if you’ve been out of school for ten years then we assume you’ve gone past what you learned at that time.

Of course we google you, so if you post cool stuff online with an alias please bring it to our attention, just avoid your alias being the same for your less savory online activities (not that we care about your interest in online adult entertainment, other employers might). But if you don’t spend your nights pumping out code for the sheer love of it, it’s ok. Great engineers also have lives outside of the zone, hopefully having fun and perhaps creating the next generation of great engineers. We’ll hire them too.

If you are reading this considering whether to express an interest in working at Criteo, the point is we love great engineers and we’ve learned to make do with your crappy CVs.

Drop us a line at r& if you are curious.