The job market is more brutally competitive now than ever before. According to Robert Meier, President of Job Market Experts, only 2% of job applicants actually make it to the interview stage, meaning that a whopping 98% of candidates are eliminated on the back of an inadequate CV.
With so many candidates being side-lined at CV screening, a run-of-the-mill résumé won’t turn any heads. To join that top 2%, you need to know how to make your CV and resume worth reading and how to make yourself worth employing. So, without further ado, here are 10 things not to include when writing your CV:
Not only will poor spelling and grammar make your CV harder to read, it also looks unprofessional. If you’re not great with words, find someone who is. Pay a professional proofreader or copywriter, or find a resume help service online.
Unless you have absolutely no career experience and are applying for an entry level role, don’t bother listing your hobbies on your CV. The number of fish you catch at the weekend isn’t likely to determine whether you get given an interview. The vast majority of recruiters won’t take a second glance at your hobbies, so fill your CV with more relevant information.
Too much information
Information overload can be a problem for two reasons. Firstly, if your CV isn’t pleasing on the eye then you’ve already alienated the employer. Secondly, recruiters will be sifting through dozens of applications, and if yours requires them to use a toothcomb to find the important details then that’s an immediate black mark.
Don’t try to explain away gaps and redundancies in your CV. No-one wants to employ someone who is constantly trying to shift the blame. Instead, use as much positive language as possible without exuding false enthusiasm.
Your email address from when you were a teenager
No-one’s going to hire you if your email address reads something along the lines of “firstname.lastname@example.org” or “email@example.com”. Set yourself up with a professional looking email address – it will take 5 minutes.
Whilst it is important to demonstrate your understanding of the role for which you are applying, try to avoid using jargon unless absolutely necessary. You might be perceived as a show-off, and terminology differs from company to company anyway. Definitely don’t use jargon in describing any career experience unrelated to the position in question.
There are loads of great ways to stand out from the crowd, but using an unusual font is definitely not one of them. Your chosen font should be easy to read and professional-looking. Also make sure you’re not using a font that was fashionable a decade ago (something like Verdana or Arial is perfect. Times New Roman is not.)
No-one wants to waste their precious working hours poring over information that has absolutely no bearing on the matter in question. Compare and contrast the content of your CV with the job profile, ensuring that everything you’ve written correlates directly to what the company is looking for in a potential employee. If the employer is able to skim through your application and put a tick next to everything, your chances of securing an interview improve drastically.
Embellishments of the truth
There is no harm in giving your CV a little polish, but take this practice too far at your own risk. If you claim to possess a skillset that you don’t, your interviewer will soon unearth the truth. If you somehow land the job, you’ll be found wanting in your role soon enough. Employers appreciate honesty more than almost anything else, and experienced recruiters will recognize CV embellishment from a mile away.
At the end of the day, clichés do exactly what they say on the tin. They make you look average, ordinary, predictable. Long-winded metaphors and similes do the same. Avoid using flowery language or figures of speech in your CV, and stick to professional language.
Of course, each employer will have different ideas of what their perfect candidate will look like, so make sure you research the company thoroughly before submitting your CV. And, if in doubt, put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes and try to imagine what you’d think of your CV if someone plonked it on your desk.