Mastering the CV is a tricky art. While you want to sell yourself, it’s difficult to know if your stated skills will seem as impressive to those intimidating employers as they are to you. So we spoke to various companies to find out about the worst CVs they have received and consequently, send you in the right direction. Although every company is different, here’s a general guide of things to avoid during the pursuit for that graduate job.
The worst thing you can do on a CV is use generic bullet points without adding a bit of flair to it, such as quantifying data or highlighting achievements, this can help a candidate stand out from the crowd.
– Joe Flanagan, Senior CV Consultant at Velvet Jobs.
I once received a handwritten CV for a position as IT support technician in the technical team that I headed up at a girls’ grammar school. The fact it was handwritten was fairly novel, but the standard of writing, coupled with the appalling standard of spelling set my alarm bells ringing. And that was before I noticed the 20-year gap in the candidate’s employment record – something they had made no attempt to account for. This person had just vanished off the face of the earth for two decades.
In the end my line manager rather unkindly decided that the individual must have spent time in prison. And the length of the sentence suggested that the crime must have been horrific. The applicant was not invited for interview. The moral of this story? Sometimes what you leave off your CV can be as damaging as what you put on.
– Ben Lloyd, freelance technology copywriter and founder of Tech Write.
I remember receiving a 3-page CV, each page had different colour, undecipherable fonts, it almost gave me a headache.
Don’t use language that you wouldn’t use in the pub when you’re out with your mates. No jargon; no big words. It’s all about effective communication. I want to see some understanding of my company, my sector and my challenges, and particularly what you think you can contribute and how you can make a difference.
Spelling and grammar are vital in my business as they should be in any business. Get the apostrophes correct! However good the CV, if it’s full of errors of whatever kind, it stops there. To me it means that there hasn’t been enough effort to check your work.
– Hems de Winter, Chief Executive at de Winter.
Any resume with a picture. I don’t care what you look like and it opens up more chance for discrimination.
– Jacq Jones, owner of Sugar.
I am always interested in the ‘hobbies and interests’ section of a CV, which often just consists of different ways to phrase ‘I like getting drunk’. If you want your CV to stand out, don’t use boring and overused phrases such as: socialising, seeing friends, going out. Instead, include your interests and activities outside work, however bizarre they might be. Actually, the more bizarre the better because it gives an employer something to start a conversation with you about, and portrays you as an interesting human being!
– Jodie Cook, Managing Director at JC Social Media Limited.
The worst thing I’ve seen is when they’ve spelt their own name incorrectly.
– Stuart Goulden, Founder and Director at Like No Other.
When people put in their CV ‘I work well on my own but also as part of a team’, or when people include photos on CVs.
– James Clayton, Director at Inside Online Marketing.
Can you think of any other CV blunders to avoid? Let us know in the comments!