Interns: How to improve your CV

Dale Humby bio photo By Dale Humby
tl;dr: Make your CV's easy to parse and ensure it stands out from all the other CV's that I receive. I am looking for passion and a history of self-directed learning. Last Saturday I attended #breaktherules hosted by the University of Cape Town Developer Society to help place Comp. Sci. student interns at local companies.

Even though Nomanini is a small company (compared to the likes of Amazon and Oracle who were also there) we received well over 100 CV's and Gerrit and I spoke to more than 50 hopeful students.

Most of the CV's that we received were useless as a recruiting tool.

In my follow-up emails to everyone who gave me their CV I included some pointers, which I thought I would expand here.

My biggest piece of advice: Make your CV's easy to parse and ensure it stands out from all the other CV's that I receive. I am looking for passion and a history of self-directed learning.

Things which help are:

  • Clearly show your degree and major and your current year of study. (Don't make me work it out based on when you started, or when you hope to graduate.)
  • Make it easy to find your name, email address and cell number. Add a photo to help me recall who you are from all the conversations that I had.
  • Write a paragraph on personal projects that you have worked on outside of your course work. Include links to your code and applications.
  • Describe the sort of work that you'd like to do during your internship as well as what you hope to gain from an internship. 


Less important (to me) is

  • listing every course/module that you have done or your high school results. (Highlighting subjects where you got 90%+ is fine, but I really don't care that you got 63% for "Word Power" two years ago.)
  • your references. If I need it I'll ask.


Really useless info is your age, your health status (always "Excellent"), marital status, drivers license.

I also hand out my business card at these events. If you really want to join my company email me afterwards, attach your CV, write a cover letter telling me why you are a perfect fit.

Remember, you are competing with your peers who largely have the same skills and experience that you do. Use any advantage to differentiate yourself.