We’ve all heard about the obvious mistakes which you’re told not to make on your CV, such as spelling or grammar, but there are some other things which can lead to the door closing before you’ve even put your foot in. Here’s a list of what to avoid:
Listing objectives and what you’re looking for
Here’s the type of thing many people write in their CV:
“As an experienced X I’m looking for a job which gives me a challenge and will allow me to further my career”.
Stating this is all well and good. However, by applying for the job you’re explicitly stating your interest in the role. There is no need to write such a statement, because it can actually have the opposite effect. What if the manager thinks that the role isn’t particularly challenging? Or the job doesn’t allow for career progression? You’re ruling yourself out of the job by default with such statements. Instead, write about what makes you fantastic because that’s what the hiring manager is going to want to read.
Paragraphs (other than in the opening profile)
There should be no paragraphs in your CV. Managers scan CVs before actually deciding to read them. Time is of the essence for any hiring manager – they don’t want to trawl through a CV where the career history looks like the world’s most underwhelming autobiography. They want the information quick and fast. So don’t write an eight line paragraph about your job – instead break up it up into bullet points, with each one being no more than two lines long.
Separate responsibilities and achievement headings in career history
Remember managers hate reading CVs just as much as you hate writing them. So now imagine a manager scanning through your résumé – if they see the achievements section their eyes are automatically going to be drawn to it. Now you might think that’s a good thing, isn’t it? I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it isn’t. That’s because they’re just going to be focusing on your achievements without grasping the correct context in which they were made.
For example, say your achievement was to turnaround a small business within a market which was on the decline and managed to generate £100,000 annual net profit. If the manager doesn’t understand the context, to them it might not seem like an impressive achievement. It’s important for the employer to know the full picture in order to appreciate the value of your achievement.
Therefore don’t separate these sections within your career history, instead merge them. A sub-heading called “responsibilities and achievements” will do. This allows the reader to get a better understanding of the correct context of what you achieved and how amazing it was.
Including full references
No one is going to contact your referees prior to you being offered the job. Unless it’s someone from a recruitment agency fishing for leads from your former boss. So just put “references available on request”.
Stating salary or reason for leaving
If you’re stating your salary you’re putting yourself in a more difficult negotiation position, because they know that you’d happily move for less. While previously they were willing to offer up to £5,000, now they’re thinking: “We can just offer £1,000 to £2,000” and you’ll accept.
With reason for leaving it’s similar. You’re bringing up an issue that doesn’t need bringing up. It’s a bit like pointing out that you dropped mayonnaise on your white shirt in the office, even though no one noticed. If they want to know the reason, let them bring it up – your job is to ensure your CV focuses on the positives and not things which could possibly have a negative impact.