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


Comments (12) -

  • Milica

    1/24/2010 11:36:13 PM | Reply

    You have my sympathies for reading a bunch of CVs.
    However, I must disagree with you on the point where you find a picture necessary. Candidate's age and picture are often left out of the CV since they can be good grounds for discrimination.

  • vukoje

    1/25/2010 2:21:16 AM | Reply

    I guess it makes sense to exclude picture and age but I still don't like it.

    OK, I guess I could live without the picture but not without the age. Working history and education are very important information and I can't imagine how you can fully understand them without candidate's age.

    Did (s)he finish studies for 5 or 10 years?
    Did (s)he started to work right after studies or few years after?

  • Nikola Svitlica

    1/31/2010 8:05:37 AM | Reply

    Dear Mr. Vukoje,

    Just stumbled upon this piece of... work... Nice!

    I think that you missed the common motivator for majority - work less, be payed more, do stuff that you like, if possible, because, we all are goods, spendable and expendable. So we all trying to sell our selfs as first class whores - it is quite reasonable to have trash talk in CV - maybe it will work, and when it does, it will have, at the end, its own price.

    Try to imagine the whore that sells with the line "I knew what the blow job is, I saw once orgy... but I am eager to learn!"

    Solution? Thank you God for underpaid trial working period! Thank you God for the capitalism!

    Human rights? What is that? Not in my dictionary Smile

  • vukoje

    2/1/2010 2:20:44 AM | Reply


    I think that there is a great difference between knowledge and body selling. Smile
    The money will (should) come with knowledge,  not with crappy CV-s.

  • Nikola Svitlica

    2/6/2010 11:06:39 AM | Reply

    "The money will (should) come with knowledge,  not with crappy CV-s." - not even statistic can prove this statement, except "should" part Smile

    Only three things in modern corporate are proved to be working regarding having a good salary, and they became, kind of, a sport discipline, at least in my corporation:

    - Anal alpinism (it sounds quite dangerous, but, actually, it is not, it is a slippery though... )
    - Stomping
    - Biking (it is combination of Anal alpinism and Stomping)

    No place for knowledge there, believe me... It is, actually, sufficient and not so praised. Small companies? Maybe. Corporations 500+ employees? Not even close! It is all about sport discipline applied in every working day Smile

  • vukoje

    2/6/2010 11:43:59 AM | Reply


    There you have it, the reason for our disagreement. You work in a big company and I work in a company with ~20 people. I have never worked in a big one and based on what you said and experiences I have heard before,  I don't intend to.

    What can I say, change job or keep climbing Smile

  • Nikola Svitlica

    2/6/2010 6:53:59 PM | Reply

    I thought that you will never ask.... What do you offer? Smile

  • Michele

    3/29/2010 7:20:16 AM | Reply

    Even I feel it is difficult to judge someone by looking at the resume. I agree that few minutes of talk over the phone can help us in making the correct decision.

  • Slavica

    10/31/2010 6:52:27 PM | Reply

    Heh, I've just sent out a CV for business analyst at Soprex, and then saw this weblog. It is not a trashy-written cv, with bold and generic statements, and these instructions are quite ok. But I have to say that I strongly disagree with a requirement for a picture (picture so important for a software development?) and especially the age... can be and often is interpreted discriminatory.

  • vukoje

    11/1/2010 4:44:06 AM | Reply

    Well lucky for you, my boss also disagrees on these issues Smile

    When I try to estimate person based on CV, picture helps me (or at least I think it does) imagine the person and remember the resume.

    Same with age... It's different if someone has 5 years of experience and is 30 or 50 years old. Younger/older doesn't mean better, but it tells about the person.

    Anyway, I would really like to have good business analyst,so good luck and hope to see you soon.

  • MAT

    1/21/2011 12:58:39 AM | Reply

    Thanks Vukoje. Students should read this blog.
    Writing a professional CV these days involves so much more than just listing your experience. Creating a professional CV is indispensable to getting the most desirable jobs and goes hand in hand with a successful career. Recruiters skim through thousands of job applications every day, so a professional CV is the best way to get noticed, get the interview, and get the job.

    Understanding the Professional CV

    Professional employees are those who act with integrity, understand the job requirements, communicate well with others, and are willing to adapt to the organisation's requirements. A professional CV is like a professional employee; it must convey all those characteristics to help you land the job you're looking for.

    For starters, a professional CV always includes certain standard details that most recruiters are interested in:

    - Personal information - name, address, full contact information.

    - Personal profile and/or career objectives.

    - Skills and achievements.

    - Work experience.

    - Education.

    - References.