What Not to Do with Your CV

Your CV can make or break your job application, get you an interview or an immediate rejection. Here are some words of wisdom from the founder of CV writing service StandOut CV, on what not to do!

You’ve studied, you’ve graduated and now you’ve got to create a winning CV that will make you stand out and land you an interview.
But if it’s the first time you’ve done it, you might be unsure how to format the document. What’s appropriate for your industry?  How long should it be? What information should you include? Should you write down every part-time job you’ve ever had? Should you keep your CV generic so you can quickly fire it off to as many roles as possible?
You’re not alone – many, if not most graduates find themselves in this exact situation. So, to help you get your head around the whole thing, we’ll outline four types of CV that are bound to be rejected – and what you can do to ensure that you won’t make the same mistake:


1. The generic CV

If you’re unsure about which direction you want your career to take, or perhaps you’re applying to several different roles, you might be tempted to create a ‘one size fits all’ CV.
Don’t! This approach won’t increase your chances of success; in fact, it’s likely to have the opposite effect. Recruiters can spot a generic CV a mile away – and they really don’t like it. A mass-produced application sent out to 40 separate jobs suggests that you don’t care about their specific role or company and that you just want any old job, so it’s unlikely you’ll be asked to interview.
Instead, do some research on the company and use the job description to tailor every CV you submit to the specific role, company and industry you’re applying to. You should aim to match up your skills and experience to the job requirements and company culture as closely as you can. This will help recruiters to see that you’re a great fit.


2. The cliché CV

Are you a team player who works well independently but also as part of a team? You’re probably also a hard-working, driven graduate, right?
While it’s natural that some of these words will spring to mind when you write your CV, this is usually because they are an over-used, cliché phrase that you’ve heard before.  But the truth is, cheesy phrases like this don’t prove anything to the employer. You want your CV to grab their attention, so you should try to be as creative and engaging with your language as you can.
A quick internet search will reveal the most cliché phrases, so make note of these and try to avoid using them in your CV. Focus on impressing recruiters with your skills, qualifications, extra-curricular activities and side projects instead.


3. The life-story CV

You may have been involved in loads of projects at university, been the best in your class at secondary school and had a handful of summer jobs – but the recruiter doesn’t need a rundown of your entire life. If your CV is too lengthy and detailed, the recruiter will quickly lose interest. Aim for a length of one or two pages of A4 – anything more definitely won’t be read.
So, be selective with what you include, only choosing information that is relevant to the role and/or company you’re applying to, or that demonstrates transferable skills.


4. The yawn-worthy CV

Finally, the last thing you want to do is to bore the recruiter, as this almost guarantees it will end up on the rejection pile. What do we mean by this? We mean giving them the bare minimum information and failing to add any hint of your personality.
Remember, you need to be a memorable candidate, so instead of simply listing your degree and previous roles, you should try to incorporate achievements, gap year experiences, memberships of clubs or societies, side projects and hobbies too – providing they are in some way relevant to the role or company values.
You could also add in a hyperlink to an online portfolio of work or website, or perhaps create a short and snappy video cover letter. Additions like this are sure to increase your chances of an interview, as most candidates simply won’t bother to make the same level of effort.

Andrew Fennell, guest contributor

About the Author

Andrew Fennell is the editor at Assign your writer and the founder of the CV writing advice website StandOut CV. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.



Find out more about CVs:

How to Create a Standout CV
General tips (including video CVs), what to include & how to sell yourself

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