As a recruiter, we see 100s of CV’s every day. Some great, some bad, and some just plain awful. Here's some tips to make sure you’re in the ‘great’ category:
1. Including overly complicated diagrams and tables.
It’s great if you’re applying for a creative role and you want to use an unusual format to stand out, but if your recruiter is having to tilt their head sideways to read a piece of information, it’s probably not going to get noticed by anyone. We love to see your creative side. After all, that’s the job you’re going for. But remember it’s your CV and we must be able to read the information on it clearly.
2. Not including any full sentences.
There’s a fine line between trying to keep your CV clear and to the point – and leaving the reader genuinely wondering if it was written by a robot. Your CV needs to try and convey not just your experience but who you are as a person. One of the first soft skills a recruiter looks for is good communication. ‘Helped my manager’ doesn’t tell us anything. What did you help your manager do? What skills did this give you? Always spell it out, never asume we can guess.
3. Having an unprofessional photo.
Most companies don’t require a photo and you don’t need to include this unless specified. But when you do, it needs to be well lit and a good enough resolution so they can actually see what you look like – It’s best not to:
Crop yourself out of a group photo so there’s a disembodied arm behind you
Have a beer in your hand!
It’s all pretty straight forward, but you’d be amazed at the amount of photos we get of people who seem to be in fancy dress!
4. Spelling mistakes.
It’s stating the obvious but, all too often true. We see people misspell their own names! It’s easy to do when you’re repeatedly tailoring your CV to each role you’re applying to, but our advice is to either get a friend to read it through, or take 5 minutes to step away after you’ve written it, then re-read with a fresh pair of eyes (and remember those squiggly red lines on spell check are trying to tell you something!)
5. Leaving any career gaps unexplained.
A couple of weeks between roles is understandable. But 2 years needs a bit of clarification. If you had career break to go travelling or for maternity/ paternity leave then this is completely reasonable and only needs a short explanation… but a blank space will make the recruiter wonder and potentially draw their own conclusions.
6. Including negative reasons for leaving previous companies.
A golden rule of interviewing is never to bad mouth your old boss or company (no matter what!) So the last thing you want to do is make this kind of negative impression before the recruiter has even spoken to you.
7. Oversharing in your personal information section.
If your family is important to you, that’s a great attribute to have … however you don’t want to take up those precious first few lines of information on your CV detailing the full names, ages, and professions of your parents, spouse, children, family pet and second cousin twice removed… (I exaggerate, but only slightly!)
These might seem obvious to many of you, but this is just a snippet of the avoidable mistakes we see every day. And it’s these silly mistakes that make the difference between getting an interview and, well, not!
See also our ‘CV Do’s and Don’ts – how to get your CV noticed’.