5 Reasons Why Your CV is Not Working Hard Enough for You

By David Smith

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It may be that clichés and proverbial sayings are so well used because there is so much truth in them, I will dispense with a long list of these awesome truisms for the sake of brevity, but there is one saying [along with a number of derivations] that particularly applies if you are job hunting!


 

“You only get out what you put in!”

You don’t need me to explain this, but it must be said that this principle applies to the tools you use for your search for work, I’m going to focus on the CV in this post.  You are going to use a CV all the time during your job hunt, or at least many elements from the CV.  Applying this principle insists that you get this vital aspect right, otherwise, all the hard work ahead will yield fewer results!

So what are some things to watch out for…if you have spotted something below that you are a little guilty of, then hopefully, this will be helpful.
 

Not Listening to the Recruiter

A recruiter is extremely busy and tends to be pretty precise in what he or she is looking for in a candidate in terms of type of qualifications, skills and experience, and they expect to be able to see just how you fit these specifications [along with anything additional that will close the deal], so when job seekers send information that doesn’t tally with the Job Spec, recruiters are often left wondering ‘Why have I been sent this CV…?’

I know what you are thinking now ‘That means I’m going to need to keep changing my CV…!’  Correct, which brings me to my next point.
 

Stop Copying and Pasting!!

OK, most of your CV content will be in there somewhere, but it just isn’t possible that a single version of your CV will cover every job you want to apply for. You would expect to highlight some areas of your career and potentially de-emphasise other areas, maybe certain achievements would suit one company over another.

You may even see a number of jobs advertised with the same company, and you may be interested in more than one of them, but if you are going to apply for multiple vacancies, then your CV would need to look a little different for each role, a simple statement in your covering note that says ‘Please also consider me for the role of xxxxx’ is just not going to get it done, actually, I am sure you would agree, it is also a little lazy.

I recently handled the recruitment sift for a number of vacancies with the same company.  Lo and behold! The same CV popped up for a few of these vacancies.  Were there any changes? I will leave this rhetorical question hanging in the air…..

You may feel that saturating a recruiter’s inbox with your CV is productive, but it isn’t.
 

Responsible For……

Great! You were responsible for X, Y and Z, but how well have you done.  To illustrate, you may have been responsible for making sales of £2000 per week, it sounds impressive, but reading between the lines, what did you actually accomplish? £200 per week, £100 per week? Unless you outright say what you achieved, the reader of your CV will draw his or her own conclusions. 

Much better to say ‘Exceeded a £2000 per week sales objective by 10% consistently over the last quarter’ or words to this effect....just to get the recruiter's attention!
 

Too Long!

This speaks for itself! Two pages, and you won’t get away with shrinking the text down to virtually microscopic size or having your margins at the minimum levels.

You should be aiming for consistent font size, you may get away with 10, but 11 if possible, with some white space.  Try to avoid giving the recruiter eye-strain with any of the above issues…you should also avoid huge blocks of text, this is not aesthetically appealing.
 

The Devil’s in the Detail

Sometimes it is hard to be objective about your own CV, it is worth approaching a professional.  Most CV writers [myself included] offer a free appraisal service, here are some issues that may not necessarily jump out at you from your CV, but nevertheless may be impacting on how your applications are viewed.
 

  • Inappropriate email addresses: You may be a really fun person, but when applying for a job, you should be more focused on presenting your more serious side, at least until you get the job and start getting to know the people. [email protected] or addresses containing your favourite beer…[this list is by no means exhaustive] just avoid them!
     
  • Unexplained gaps need to be addressed, leaving a gaping wound on your CV and hoping the recruiter will not spot it [they will!] is not a good idea - also, don't try to minimise the length of the gap by using year only, rather than month and year, it will not work, in fact, it may draw attention to the problem!
     
  • Outdated formatting, for example ‘Curriculum Vitae’ typed across the top of what is obviously your curriculum vitae, is a waste of a line…there are a number of other formatting problems that can have the same effect, namely, leaving the recruiter wondering ‘How long has this CV been sitting in my inbox?’
     
  • Spelling and grammar problems! Does anyone need to be reminded of the negative impact a typo will have? Spell-check, proof-read, second opinion! Yes, it is hard work, but how there is no second prize for ‘almost made it to the interview pile!’


Just to close on a couple of other truisms to drive home the point.

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Albert Einstein

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. Abraham Lincoln


I think these two gentlemen make their point well.  The more you put into the preparation, the better the outcome is likely to be.


I hope this was helpful, feel free to tweet any feedback @Careervisa or connect with me on Linkedin if you’d like more information.

 

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