New Year, New CV Nightmares…
For lots of us, the New Year is a time to start afresh. Whether that means cutting the carbs to achieve a new physique or banning the booze in pursuit of a new liver, it seems as though the month of January is one for reflection and change.
It comes as no surprise then that we’ve had a huge January influx of CV’s from candidates who’ve finally decided that it’s out with the old and in with the new… new job that is.
For most recruiters, it’s the busiest time of the year and I’m loving the fact that my job ads are gaining such traction, however I can’t help but notice some of those horrible habits I thought we’d left behind. And to make matters worse, it seems like some new ones have formed…
In my last blog I mentioned the fact that information overload is likely to send your prospective employer to sleep - right before they send your CV to the bottom of the pile. And whilst I still maintain that this is the case, it’s vital that your CV actually contains enough material for a hiring manager or recruiter to make an informed decision.
At the risk of sounding like Goldilocks, the amount of detail included has to be just right in order to strike the balance between excessive and extinct. If I’m recruiting for a particularly hard-to-fill role and your experience looks slightly relevant, I may reach out to you on the off-chance that you’ve forgotten to disclose specific skills in your CV. 95% of the time however, this won’t be the case, and you may be automatically rejected for a job you’re well qualified to do, simply because you’ve omitted the relevant information. And yes, I would consider your phone number and email address to be relevant information. I must’ve received at least 5 CV’s this year which I’ve been unable to follow up on due to a lack of contact information.
Again, if your CV really stands out to me then I’ll probably go that extra mile and try to track you down on LinkedIn but quite honestly, I prefer to limit my cyber stalking to Ryan Reynolds and Instagram.
Pretty basic I know, but it’s true that spelling and grammar mistakes are two of the most common characteristics of a bad CV. Telling me that you’ve ‘sex years’ of experience’ is not only off-putting, but also contradictory when you’re claiming to be a ‘perfectionist’ with a ‘good eye for detail’. True, we all make mistakes and no-one’s going to penalise you for the odd faux-pas, but a CV littered with poor spelling and grammar is a deal-breaker for most employers.
In order to avoid this, make sure you take advantage of Word’s built in software or one of the various plugins such as Grammarly when constructing that all important document and if you’re still unsure, ask someone. Ask anyone, ask Jeeves! The last thing you want is a hiring manager discounting you from the process because it looks as though you’re not taking your job search seriously.
Bridging the gap
Trust me when I say that dates of employment are one of the first things I look at when presented with a new CV. I can ascertain just about anything from this information – your number of years’ experience, your staying power and the amount of time that’s unaccounted for.
It should come as no surprise to you that the majority of people have breaks in their career at one point or another, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this. No one is going to judge you for taking time out of work to raise a family. It’s only when candidates choose not to disclose the reason for these gaps in employment, that recruiters automatically assume the worst.
As for explaining the year out you took to gallivant around Oz? I’ve been there myself! Just please don’t waste valuable CV space detailing the ‘invaluable’ experience you gained whilst taking time off work to do a season in Ibiza. You’re never going to convince me that a summer waitressing at Ocean Beach improved your foreign language skills.
Such a cliché
Remember when Jim Eastwood from The Apprentice was asked to describe himself without using clichés? And he responded immediately with, ‘I’m exactly what it says on the tin’? No, you probably don’t remember him, and that’s because he wasn’t hired. CV’s littered with buzzwords and clichés just run the risk of sounding, well... extremely cliché. I can’t count the amount of times a candidate has purported to ‘think outside the box’, and that pales in comparison to the amount of people I see who allegedly thrive in a ‘fast-paced environment’.
We’ve all been guilty of using them at some point and that’s likely because it’s a lot easier than actually explaining how and why we’ve excelled in our previous roles. Rather than describing yourself as a ‘team-player’, give examples of a time when you’ve achieved something substantial by working with or managing your colleagues. If you claim to have a ‘proven track record’, you’re going to have to prove it, with specifics, statistics and details to validate your claim.
And last but not least…
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! I don’t care if you’ve got more qualifications than Kanye’s got haters, if your application’s addressed to anyone other than me, I don’t want to know. When has calling someone by the wrong name ever worked out well…?
Charlotte Callaghan is a Recruitment Consultant at Forward Role specialising in the digital marketing space in London. She can be found tweeting @forwardrolecc and on LinkedIn.