How to write a CV to get a job in Latin America tech

Woman reading a resume at a table

Over the last couple of years, I’ve spoken with a lot of really smart people who want to work in tech in Latin America, but don’t know where to start. If you’ve always wanted to work in tech in Latin America, but didn’t know how to make an attractive CV or LinkedIn profile, this article is for you.

There are a lot of CV guides online, but most are outdated, and not relevant if you’re looking to get a job in tech. This article is for anyone interested in working in tech in Latin America, from someone just starting their career, to an experienced executive. If you are looking for a job in other industries, you should use a different CV formatting guide. For example, if you want to get into:

Once you’ve built a good CV and LinkedIn profile, check out our Magma work with us page, where we have open jobs at Magma and our portfolio companies. If you don’t find a specific role that you’re interested in, fill out our General Application with more details of what you’re looking for.

CV vs Linkedin: It’s not either/or, it’s both/and

Most startups, corporates, and recruiting firms use LinkedIn at least as much as CV’s to review candidates. Typically, recruiters open your LinkedIn first, and if they want to look for more specific details, they go to your CV. I like to say “LinkedIn gets you in the door, and your CV gets you the job.

Remember that most companies have recruiters take a first look at CV’s or LinkedIn profiles. The truth is that recruiters aren’t usually experts on the business. When reviewing applications, recruiters usually look for a couple of key things that they spoke with the hiring manager about for the role:

  1. Relevant industry experience: Recruiters will have preselected relevant companies in their heads. If you haven’t worked at an “obviously relevant” company, you need to find a way to prove why you’re relevant.
  2. Relevant candidate seniority: Recruiters want to know that you can handle the company/role they are hiring for.  
  3. Leadership: Usually, recruiters only care about how big of a team you have led, rather than what you really did in the role. If they are hiring for a role that is leading a team of 10, they want proof that you’ve led a team of similar size. If you have led teams, include the number, and explain the nuance during an interview.
  4. Specific role qualifications: If a company is looking to hire a sales lead who will make deals worth an average ticket of $50k, prove to them that you have made deals of a similar size.

Your goal is to answer these four questions as clearly as possible. The easier you make the Recruiter’s job, the more likely you are to get past the initial review. On top of making the job of the Recruiter or first-person reviewing your application easier, having a clear CV and LinkedIn helps you tell a more concise and relevant story when you’re interviewing.  

What recruiters look for in a LinkedIn profile:

  • All of your work experience is updated
  • One short sentence about each role that says simply and clearly what you did in that role
  • You don’t have superfluous clubs, projects, or committees mixed in with the full-time jobs you’ve had. If you think some of these activities are relevant, include them in a separate section.

What recruiters look for in a CV:

  • It’s clear, concise, direct, and easy to read. Don’t include 10 bullet points under each experience if only 2-3 are truly important and relevant
  • They can get the information they need if they scan it quickly, but it also has important details (with #’s included) if they need to go back and understand more 
  • It flows. The order of the CV makes sense chronologically, and the clarity helps tell a story

Recruiters only spend an average of 7.4 seconds when skimming CVs. Set a 7-second timer and scan your CV. If it’s not clear why you’re relevant for the role you’re applying for, it’s not going to be clear to the recruiter. 

  1. Header/Short summary: Direct, say things you have really done. Say what you are looking for. 
  2. Contact information: Email, phone, LinkedIn, where you’re based. If you’re looking for or open to remote roles, put that here.
  3. Work history: From most recent to least recent, include the full-time work you’ve done.
    1. If you’re >5 years into your career, list your Work History before your education 
    2. Keep it concise. Avoid jargon when you can. Don’t exaggerate what you really did. Assume the company will do reference calls with your boss before hiring you and make sure you’re being honest. 
  4. Education any relevant awards: only include real degrees, don’t include seminars or online courses, unless you think they truly meet the bar of being important. Spoiler alert: they usually don’t. 
  5. Other stuff you’ve done: Write a tech blog? Active on GitHub? Have a podcast? This is proof that you are proactive and “get shit done,” which is far more important to startups than taking a course and doing nothing with it. 
  6. Languages, tech skills: include languages you speak, and any technically relevant skills.
  7. Where you can work: If you have multiple passports, include which countries they are for, especially if you’re applying for a job where work permits are relevant

Latin America vs. the US: catering your CV to the correct audience:

Most generic CV guides for Latin America tell you to include a picture of yourself, your birth date, and whether you’re married or not. While this advice holds true for some corporates or more traditional companies in Latin America, I don’t recommend including this information if you’re applying to a startup.

In the US, most companies discourage, and some companies don’t allow you, to include this personal information about yourself on your CV. 

My advice is to avoid including personal details in your CV when applying to startups.

Writing your CV in English vs. Spanish/Portuguese

Most startups are looking for candidates with English proficiency on top of the local language. The easiest way to prove you have written proficiency in English is by having a CV that proves you have good control of the language. My advice to candidates is to have a version of your CV in both English and Spanish (or Portuguese if you are working in Brazil). 

If Spanish or Portuguese is not your native language, it’s a major plus to link to somewhere where you are either speaking, or writing, in the language to prove from day one that you are proficient in the language.

Other CV tips:

  • If your career is <10 years long, your CV should always be 1 page
  • If your career is >10 years long AND you’ve had a lot of different jobs, it can go onto a 2nd page. Try to avoid a 2nd page if possible
  • If your CV is 2 pages, write a short, concise summary at the very top of page 1. 
  • If you are applying specifically for 1 job, try and match the verbs and words you use in your CV with their job description. This will help you match the profile better, especially if they use AI or any automation for the initial check
  • You can use sites like Zety to put your CV in a template that you like

Be strategic about choosing where to work

Hopefully this CV and LinkedIn advice helps you get interviews with some of your top companies. Once you are considering where to work, use these 3 frameworks to help you make better career decisions. Remember, choosing where to work or what to work on is one of the most important investments you’ll make, so make as informed of a decision as you can.

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