Get hired as an Engineering Manager - part 2: Perfecting your CV and LinkedIn profile

Get hired as an Engineering Manager - part 2: Perfecting your CV and LinkedIn profile
Mizuki Heitaro: Abstract Pattern Portfolio (1930)

We’re covering the entire process of getting hired as an EM together with Péter Batiz, an experienced consultant who’s been helping startups and scale-ups find tech talent for more than a decade. We divided the “getting hired” process into five parts:

🔎 Capturing your Preferences
📝 Perfecting your CV and LinkedIn profile - this article!
📥 Searching and Applying
💬 Interviewing
🤝 Closing the offer

In this part, we want to give guides to creating an effective CV and LinkedIn profile that increases your chances of getting hired as an Engineering Manager. We’re organizing our advice into 3 areas to consider when writing your CV or LinkedIn profile. 

1. Your CV

The single most important goal of a CV is to get an interview. That’s it, everything should be serving this goal. Imagine your CV is your advertisement leaflet handed out at a busy intersection. You have 10 seconds to convince a recruiter not to trash it like the previous dozen she had to. Feel free to leave out irrelevant details and emphasize the experience required for the current position. Your goal is to get a call, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to go into details if all goes well after that.


Companies hire people to solve a problem they have. These problems are unique for every organization, especially for an Engineering Manager role, where scope, team size, tech stack, workforce distribution, technical contribution, and other expectations can vary between jobs. Spend time understanding what problem they need to solve, so you can decide if it’s a good match for your motivations — and prepare a CV that best showcases your relevant experiences. Leave out irrelevant or distracting details and explain the things you did that they need someone for.

You don’t have to have one single CV! On the contrary, ideally, you have a long, internal one you can edit down for every company you apply to, targeting their job posts. If you’re constrained for time, your chances of getting an interview are still better if you apply to fewer companies with custom, targeted CVs than applying for more jobs with the same one. This tip is valid for every job-seeker, but especially true for Engineering Managers. So, start with an inclusive CV that has everything in your career. The output from the automatic LinkedIn Resume Builder is a bit too verbose to use directly, but it can be a good basis for this “master CV”, and it’s best if your LinkedIn profile is not very different from your CV anyway. 

From here, you should edit to optimize, emphasizing specific skills and experiences targeting the job you’re applying for. The requirements of being hands-on can be radically different from one job to another. If a company is looking for strong technical leadership from an EM, then you need to prove your hands-on tech experience. Similarly, if an organization is searching for a hands-off manager, minimize deep technical details and show your people- and execution management impact. 

Don’t lie - but shape the narrative

You might feel tempted to come up with missing experiences to fill gaps in your CV. Worst case this gets discovered and you burn yourself – best case, you get hired, and either will be found out during your first months or will struggle with impostor syndrome. None of these sound great! Still, the CV is where you sell yourself. Build a story, hide or minimize disadvantages, and emphasize things that match the requirements. Ideally, your career progression shows development, increasing challenges, and bigger scopes. If that’s not the case for you, find a good motivation behind your job switches, and make that explicit.

For example, you wanted to go deeper on tech, and alternated between EM and IC roles? Use it to your advantage and emphasize your technical capabilities. Did you have a short stint at a company a long time ago that doesn’t fit well in your career progression? Consider leaving it out of your CV. 

Titles can be flexible too, to some extent. If you were hired as a Software Engineer, but by the time you left you were acting as the technical lead of the team, you should show this information for an Engineering Manager position. Consider writing something like “Team Lead (Software Engineer)” as your title. It’s a bit more sensitive if you’ve been acting a level higher than your title would suggest, but there are ways to convey this information without risking too much. For example, if you were acting as a Senior Engineering Manager, but only had the EM title for some reason, you could say “Engineering Manager, leading an organization of 15 ICs and 2 EMs in 3 teams”. 

Emphasize keywords

Recruiters and hiring managers have no time to read, they scan. Start the most important things on the top left, and move old experiences and education to the bottom. Emphasize key skills and experiences that the job you’re applying to requires, so this information jumps out when somebody scans your CV. Do a little research to understand the company and the job. Are they a startup in a growth phase? Explain a relevant part in your career where you had to grow a team and show your hiring experience. What tech stack are they running? Make sure you explicitly add that if you’ve ever worked with tools they use.

For example instead of saying “My team was responsible for mobile development”, say something like “I was leading the mobile development team, working with Swift on iOS and Kotlin on Android”.

As a hiring manager, I usually process dozens of CVs in batches. I had the luxury of recruiters already throwing out obvious misfits, so I could concentrate on smaller details: how deep is the candidate’s experience? Were they the ones driving the impact or just watching from the sideline? Do they have experience working in a similar setup (team, tech stack, etc.) that our company has? Adjusting your CV to emphasize the matches and downplay the differences according to the job description will increase your chances of getting an interview.

Personal impact and business value

When writing about work experience, use metrics tied to business goals and be explicit about your role and achievements

This spotlight should feel a bit hard because as a manager, you’re ideally putting your team ahead of your achievements. But you need to show your personal impact in a CV, without giving off a pretentious image. A good balance can be using phrases like “my team”, “the team I led”, or “the organization I was responsible for”. This makes it clear that you were the leader, but also that the work was done as a team.

As a manager, you need to showcase the value you bring to an organization. When describing your role, use metrics showing the business impact of your actions. A few examples to give you inspiration:

Re-architected our backend services to utilize autoscaling, saving $300.000/year, 20% of our AWS costs. 
Grew my organization from 10 to 40 people in 18 months, including the identification, mentorship, training and promotion of three ICs to EMs to lead their respective teams. 
Optimized our CI pipeline bringing down mean execution time from 23 to 16 minutes, saving 5000 hours of developer time a year.

Check the basics

  • Proper grammar, no typos. Yes, great candidates will probably get an interview despite writing Java Script instead of JavaScript, but it’s sending a bad message, and if you’re on the edge, this might have your CV landed in the Reject pile.
  • Working contacts: email, phone, LinkedIn. 
  • No overly personal stuff like photo, birth date, gender, etc., unless something is explicitly required by the company (which would be a red flag for me).
  • Consistent structure and formatting, don’t use multiple fonts, colors that don’t translate well when printed in black and white, or other fancy editing. Use subheadings and break down paragraphs to lists.
  • Two pages max. Use this size constraint to help you prioritize the key information you want to communicate. If you don’t have much experience yet, 1 page is fine, but make sure you fill that page.
  • File format doesn’t matter much regardless of what you read on the web. PDF (with text content) is the simplest and rules out all compatibility issues, but Word is fine too.
  • File name should be your name, maybe add "-CV", but that’s it. 
  • Introduce companies briefly, unless obvious. Just a short sentence about size and market, for example, “Market-leading Polish online media company”.

2. Your LinkedIn Profile

In 2024, practically all recruiting happens on LinkedIn, and features like Easy Apply make it a great tool for job seekers too. Most Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) can accept direct applications from LinkedIn, and the overwhelming majority of available jobs are on LinkedIn too. So while even a few years ago you were probably fine having a good CV and ignoring LinkedIn, this strategy is a serious red flag for recruiters, and would considerably decrease your chances of being hired.

Does it mean you should ditch your CV and focus on your LinkedIn profile only? Not really. First, in a different job market, this might be OK, but in today’s landscape, every little difference that gives you a small advantage over other applicants is worth checking. Second, still a big part of the application forms ask for a CV, or it might come up during the process. Actually, you should push for this, because unlike LinkedIn profiles, CVs can be customized for companies to target their job descriptions, so it’s a big advantage if you can submit your CV instead of or alongside a LinkedIn profile.

So if you had to choose one, here it is: in 2024, you should rather focus on your LinkedIn profile

As an added benefit, optimizing your LinkedIn profile won’t just give you a better chance of showing your experience, but also make you more visible for recruiters searching the platform. You should look at your LinkedIn profile as your branding page, a personal advertisement in the local Yellow Pages. 

Few tips to help you stand out and represent your better side:

  • Make sure you select every relevant skill tied to your previous positions and experiences, so recruiters have a chance to find you. 
  • Similarly, use relevant keywords when you write about your experiences. Recruiters search for words and expressions in job descriptions, you should match those searches. Treat it like an SEO exercise, mention keywords in headings, and bold letters, and use synonyms too to catch all variations. 
  • Most of our advice about writing a good CV can be applied here too to some extent, especially about showing your role and impact and using data to tie your work to business goals. 

A few thoughts on LinkedIn Premium: in our judgment, it’s not worth the $30/month price purely for the purpose of helping someone in job seeking. Everyone is different though, so here are a few benefits that some users of LinkedIn Premium found valuable when looking for jobs:

  • Ability to see how you’re compared to other applicants. While this sounds great on the surface, there are two huge assumptions in this: that the job post is covering well what the company is looking for, and that your LinkedIn profile is conveying your skills and experiences well. It’s not always the case, which led to some weird hits in my experience, where I was a top candidate for a position I never imagined myself applying for.
  • See the number of applicants for a job. This should presumably discourage you from applying if there’s a huge competition. Well, first of all, this should never discourage you. It’s not a random raffle where everyone has equal chances, and the more participants there are the less likely you'll win. If you’re a good fit, go get it. Second, there are rumors about the trustability of these numbers, and what’s behind them. The bottom line is that the number displayed is probably inflated, and there’s a good chance that you’re more qualified than most of those applications anyway.
  • You can see who saw your profile at a company you’ve applied to. While this can give some secondary information about where you are in their process, it’s not much more than a non-actionable vanity metric. Focus on direct communication with the company, and ignore the noise.
  • You can send InMail to people at a company. It might be slightly more polite than reaching out with a connect request, but not much more - you’re cold-calling either way. It’s better to stay on official communication channels or ask for an introduction from a friend who knows someone there.

3. Ignore AI (at least for now)

This is a bit of an outlier advice, and will probably be the most controversial point we’re making, but we wanted to include it because there is some hysteria about this topic on the web. There are two areas where AI seems to have a bigger impact in 2024: applicants writing their CVs / LinkedIn pages with LLMs, and companies automatically filtering if you’re a good match for a position using AI.

Let’s start with the latter: we believe it’s still a myth. You might see statements like “the majority of résumés at US tech companies were never seen by humans”, but often these come from representatives of companies selling something that’s supposed to help your chances of being hired. The bottom line is that we have yet to see a recruiter (or hiring manager) relying entirely on machine filtering, automatically rejecting candidates who don’t fit a position. It’s about trust, and none of the recruiters we know would fully trust an AI and risk losing a great candidate.

It’s understandable why this fear of being rejected without any human looking at your application is getting popular again in the current job market, but nothing in our experience makes us believe this is the case. ATSes do what they can to make the initial screening of candidates as smooth as possible for recruiters, but at the end of the day, there’s always a human pushing the buttons.

If you’re a recruiter who’s relying on an ATS that’s rejecting candidates without you or any other human ever looking at them, please contact us, we’re happy to stand corrected! 

The other use of AI might be a bit more nuanced: writing parts of your CV with the help of AI. However, in our opinion, it’s a high-risk / low-reward choice. AI use is still easy to recognize, there are terms and expressions AI is frequently using – and it’s even more evident for recruiters who look at hundreds of applicants a day. Having to rely on an AI to tell your story sends a bad message, especially for Engineering Managers, who should have great communication skills. If you’re exceptionally stuck, try AI to unblock yourself, but tread carefully, and use the output as inspiration, never verbatim. (This advice is especially true for LinkedIn’s AI Resume Builder: in our experience it’s dumb and easy to spot, making you look unprofessional.)


The above points on perfecting your CV and LinkedIn profile should get you started. Remember the role of these two: your LinkedIn profile helps you be found, while your CV tells your story. Use both accordingly.

If you want to go deeper on this topic, we can recommend Gergely Orosz’s book The Tech Resume Inside Out. Two things to note: the book was written a few years ago, and therefore focused on CV tailoring more than LinkedIn optimization; and its main target audience is ICs rather than managers. Still, there are a lot of great tips in there that an Engineering Manager can use to be more successful in job hunting. Finally, Péter Batiz, the co-author of this article is running a Hungarian newsletter and podcast, if you speak our language, it’s a great resource on tech hiring topics.

Once you have your CV and LinkedIn profile perfected, you can start the search and apply process. This is what we’ll cover in the next part of this series about Getting Hired as an Engineering Manager. Add your email address to get a notification once it’s published.

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