Evaluate Technical CVs

2022 01 03 head

The goal of a curriculum vitae is to get an invitation to a job interview. I review hundreds of CVs and must select a few candidates we should invite.

Each interview will cost hundreds of Euros to the company. I must minimize the number of interviews and increase the probability of a match.

Over the years, I developed a checklist to select promising candidates.

The below checklist is biased to the Java technology check. When I use the verb explain in a list item, I mean that I got a hint the candidate is aware of the concept and has used it in his applications.

Similar lists can be created for Javascript/Typescript, Python, Ruby, C++, or .NET developers.

What Do I Check?


Which kind of education did the candidate pursue during his career?

Formal Training

I expect a software developer to have formal training in computer science or related fields. Dormal training is given by an accredited institution. The student receives a recognized certificate.

  • The following information should be available:

    • Title of the formation and information if it is a bachelor, a master, or an alternative title,

    • Time interval when the formation was attended and year when you graduated.
      The regular bachelor study duration is three years. The master’s study duration is an additional one and a half years,

    • The name of the school where the formation was attended. I regularly look at the curriculum and the ranking of the institute to better understand your training. A link to the school is always welcome.

  • Checks are:

    • Did the candidate study computer science?
      If not, you should pursue an additional formation in computer-related fields. I want to hire a computer specialist, not an all-rounder,

    • How long did the candidate study and when did he graduate?
      It defines the potential years of experience.

    • What is the ranking of the school delivering the title?
      I often want to know the overall ranking of the institute and their curriculum strengths.

Continuous Formation

I expect a professional engineer to regularly pursue formal continuous training. The following information should be available:

  • What formation did he attend?
    I am checking if the candidate pursued training in the areas she applies for. A team leader should train in soft skills and product management methods. An agile specialist should train in agile, Scrum and DevOps. A software architect should train in architecture and software design themes. A user interface developer should know about usability, accessibility, design and corporate interface standards.

  • When did he attend the continuous formation and year when the title was received?

  • Link to an authority providing proof of the certificate of the formation.

Spoken Languages

The workplace is international. Relevant computer science documentation is in English.

  • The candidate shall be fluent in English in written and spoken forms.
    A software specialist not being fluent in English is an imposter because he cannot read actual technical information.

  • The organization can request specific languages. German and Spanish companies are keen to have candidates speaking the national language.

Programming Capabilities

A software developer shall be a proficient and trained programmer. Here are some examples of capabilities I look for if the candidate is a Java developer:

  • Java versions he has experience with [1].
    If his current projects use older versions of the language, I expect a professional to study the current version on his own.

  • Build tool he has experience with - maven, gradle -.

  • If he is a junior developer, I check if he has an official Java developer certificate.

  • Which libraries did she use? I expect JUnit, Mockito, AssertJ, slf4j, flyway, Jackson. More capable developers often cite lombok, jimfs, hsqldb.

  • Does he have experience with JSON, HTML, CSS, SQL, or script languages?

Design Capabilities

A professional developer shall be able to design software components. I am looking for:

  • Knowledge of design patterns and Java idioms,

  • Explain object-oriented approaches - abstraction, SOLID, KISS, YAGNI, algebraic data types.

  • Explain functional approaches such as Optional<T>, Streams, immutability, idempotence, Functor, Monad.

  • Explain application concepts such as internationalization i18n, localization l16n, or accessibility a11y.

  • Explain exception handling approaches in backend and frontend applications.

  • Explain test driven development build on JUnit 5, Mockito and AssertJ and the variants TDD, BDD, ATDD.

  • Explain continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment, infrastructure as code, DevOps.

  • Explain refactoring triggered by SonarLint, PMD, SpotBugs.

Architecture Capabilities

A professional software architect shall be able to define an application architecture. I am looking for:

  • Explain architecture patterns such as monolith, modular monolith, modular application, layered application.

  • Show knowledge of architecture approach such as domain driven design, Traditional approaches such as RUP. Zachmann can be mentioned but are no more relevant.

  • Explain the different facets of the architect role: Teacher, Coach, Mentor, Developer.

  • Explain how architecture is documented (ADR, C4), static websites (Pages in GitHub, GitLab, or Bitbucket); and which notation (UML) or approaches can be used.

  • Explain continuous architecture improvements and how it is performed - see e.g., refactoring legacy systems -.

  • Explain technical debt concepts and how to mitigate technical debt in an application.

  • Check if the candidate knows about ADR Architecture Design Record, ArchUnit.

  • Check if a formal architecture training was performed such as DDD, TOGAF, or arc42.

Agile Work Capabilities

A professional developers should know agile methods which around since this millennium:

  • Check if Scrum, Kanban, Lean approaches were used in projects. Often they only pretend because they hold a daily meeting and a retrospective.

  • Check if CI/CD/CD and DevOps practices were used in projects,

  • Check if understanding of refactoring and automated tests is visible and if techniques were used in projects.

Teamwork Capabilities
  • What does teamwork mean for the candidate?

  • Explain pair programming, mob programming, merge requests

  • Explain feature branch versus trunk based development

  • Check if community of practice, coding dojo, design workshops are known concepts

  • Does the candidate show a sensibility to soft factors and team building instruments?

If the position is for a team lead position I use the criteria discussed in Techincal Team Lead blog.


LinkedIn Profile

Digital professionals publish their career and achievements on a platform. I like to visit your LinkedIn profile or your personal career website.

Open Source Activities

Modern software application development relies heavily on open source libraries and frameworks. Developers who understand how to communicate with the teams behind these projects and how to contribute improvements are worth a lot in any project.

Community Activities

Engineers working in communities and user group members are often open, enthusiasts and have a wider network of professional acquaintances.

Blogs and Articles

Developers taking time to write public blogs or articles show a genuine interest in helping others in their learning. I also find very interesting to learn which technical books a candidate has read.

Other Programming Languages

Java developers interested in Groovy, Kotlin, Scala, Clojure are often more knowledgeable and open to new approaches.

Game Rules

Provide a short text describing yourself and your interests

I want to understand who the person behind the CV is and the type of work she is interested in.

Embellish, do not lie

It is normal to show the bright side of your work experience. Feel free to embellish your CV. But please do not lie to me and invent capabilities you do not have. Such a fault is a killer during the interview. I always cross-check the CV during an interview.

Explain gaps in your CV

I truly respect people taking off time or having encountered problems during their careers. And I expect from you a hint to understand gaps in your career.

Experience section

Use this section to discuss what you achieved in each of your previous roles. Using data and numbers can help a hiring manager get a better sense of how you performed, especially because this information is verifiable. Please add more details for the last five years. I am not deeply interested in knowing details about a project ten years old.
I do not fully count experience when the project duration was below half a year. You need time to learn the application, the team and the constraints. Therefore, the first six months your personal learning in new approaches and technologies is quite shallow.

Explain why you apply for a specific job position

Either you have the needed capabilities through past and current experiences or explain why you think you could take over the responsibility.

Use a spell checker

A computer specialist not being able to use a spell checker is automatically disqualified.

Interest in improving

You are doomed if you did not learn or formally train the last ten years. This learning and training shall be visible in your resume. I look for Oracle Java Developer, advanced or professional Scrum, iSAQB (senior designer), TOGAF, and JEE (architect) certifications.

Personal information

I like to see a picture of the candidate. I also expect some information about the location of the candidate such as city and state. I have a strong emphasis on building diverse teams because I am fully aware of the improved productivity. Women must have a higher chance to get an interview and the job. We want to equilibrate our development teams. And I fully understand candidates not providing one due to anxiety of toxic selection processes.


I have the following checks to assess how current the knowledge of a candidate is. If a candidate cites obsolete approaches, I become cautious.

  • SVN has died for 10 years. Everybody uses Git.

  • RUP has died for 20 years.

  • The Waterfall has died for 25 years.

  • Extensive front-end requirement definition has died for 10 years.

  • Big front-end architecture and design activities have died for 15 years.

  • Technologies such as NetBeans, Ant, or XML are obsolete.

NodeJS Candidates

A NodeJS developer shall know domain-driven design, clean, refactoring, TDD, CI/CD and agile approaches. General information, computer science, design, software architecture and agile approach requirements are similar.

The technical questions for a NodeJS person are slightly different from a Java developer:

  • Which NodeJS version is he working with? How experienced is she with the packet manager npm?

  • Does he have a Typescript certification? Which version of Typescript is she using?

  • Which tools did she use for quality conformance and refactoring in projects?

  • Does he know standard OWASP approaches and why they are important in a NodeJS environment?

  • Examples of object-oriented, functional programming, asynchronous and reactive approaches in Typescript code.

  • Can senior developers discuss and explain threading, thread library, or async design approaches?

  • Which development environment does he use to develop NodeJS code - e.g. JetBrain WebStorm -?

  • Does he master MEAN stack - MongoDB, Express.JS, Angular, NodeJS -?

  • Which experience and certification does she have with Angular or React?

  • Which training or certificates does she have in user interface design, usability, or accessibility?

  • Does he have experience and training in MongoDB, Mongoose, Meteor, express.js, socket.io?

  • Is she experienced with integrating relational database in NodeJS backend solutions?

  • Are advanced topics such as WebAssembly or Deno known?

Use hints in the project experience sections to cover the above topics.

1. I sadely sometimes encounter candidates who have no clue which version of their programming language they are daily using.