CV GB’s (CV Good Bits)
When it comes to your CV, every word counts
And with so much competition for the top roles increasing, your CV really needs to stand out.
To avoid getting into any bad habits, here are a few CV Doos and Don’ts if you really want to nail that role.
DO: Send the same CV every time
Don’t listen to nay-sayers who think that CVs have to be customized.
One-size- fits-all. It’s perfectly acceptable to send the same CV each time as that’s proves you’re not some sort of sly character or at worst, a bullshooter.
Some so called ‘experts’ will tell you that without tailoring your CV and cover letter to the role in question, your application will be generic, and therefore not of value to the majority of hiring managers.
That’s just to keep them in their devious ‘advice’ jobs.
People who tell a complicated web of lies always get caught, so keep it simple, stupid!
It’s not like you’re applying for massively different jobs like Head of Veg at Tofu King Tasty one day then Floorboard Tester at World of Underpants the next.
Your skill set has been carefully honed over the years to go in one particular direction (i.e Freelance Gynaecologist) so there’s no need to pad it out with fibs.
DO: Write too much
When writing a CV, there’s always room for more! If you’ve done loads of stuff, then tell them.
It’s basically been proven by Government psychologists in the 1950’s that if you include as much information as possible there’s more chance of impressing your potential employer because you’re a people person.
That 2-week job you had as a Paper Folder at Grotesque Gifts that didn’t work out because that woman said you glued her cheeks together? Put it in. It wasn’t your fault she sat on the wrong seat.
That pit-bull you had to put down with a stick because it bit your leg when you accidentally fell into its garden after that Whisky Tasting day? Tell them… you’re a hero!
Don’t listen to people who say that employers don’t have time to read through your life story.
Yes they do.
They’re going to have to work with you for up to 25 years, possibly in a very confined space, so they better choose carefully.
No one wants to hire someone who turns out to be a convicted rapist, kiddy-fiddler or tobacco smuggler – even if they have got a degree and loads of relevant experience.
Remember, when it comes to CV’s, all filler is all killer.
DO: Use safe and generic language
Some self-styled recruiting ‘experts’ think that pepping up your CV with individuality will help you get the job.
Wrong. Employers like to see someone who can conform and fit in. Not some loose cannon maverick type.
Adding your ‘individual’ touch could see you slipping into your local slang and using embarrassingly incorrect English. Basically, don’t think outside the box.
So-called clichés like ‘Socialising with friends’, ‘Works will in a team’ and ‘Strong communication skills’ are perfectly acceptable and do what they say on the tin.
Stick to tried and tested phrases and don’t try to say ‘I’m down with my bros’, ‘I’m tight with my bloodz’ or ‘Homies be like respect or get wrecked, noamsayin?” if you’re from some deprived English inner-city. You literally want to avoid anyone knowing that at this stage.
So stick with the clichés and don’t stand out from the crowd until you get the gig, dude. In fact in a recent survey* 25% (or nearly one in four) recruiters called ‘socializing with friends’ their biggest pet-hate phrase. Which means the other three didn’t give one.
Don’t try to add value to your application by using fancy adjectives and verbs (fastidious, mentored, improvised) you don’t understand to help back up your achievements as you’ll sound like an idiot. Keep your head down and your words simple and you’ll nail that position.
DO: Include useful and funny photos and charts if necessary
Never underestimate the importance of presentation. It’s all very well getting all the words right, but if you haven’t displayed them in the right way a recruiter is unlikely to give your application the time it deserves.
Obviously black text on white is pretty basic but it’s also boring. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting with some your favorite colors like blue on yellow or red or green (unless you’re diagnosed color blind) as these will really catch the employer’s eye – literally.
Pictures, tables and graphs are also a brilliant idea.
If you managed to increase productivity in your last place, even just by turning up, then stick it in a pie chart. Everyone likes pie-charts.
Or if you did up to 16 different things in a day (or roughly 2 in an hour) stick it in a table. But just ensure the table has a line going up from left to right as employers like this kind of pattern.
And funny personal photos can be a massive winner.
A good one of your dog catching a ball or a nice tasteful one of you and your girlfriend in Magaluf shows that you’re a reliable. Let’s face it, they’re going to look you up on Facebook anyway, so why not show them best ones first?
Having said that, those ones of you and the boys in Amsterdam on Steve’s stag are corkers so why not show them that you’re one of the lads? (Maybe just Photoshop out Adam with that hooker in case his wife sees it).
It’s not a deal-breaker but if a potential boss thinks you might be a bit of a laugh and can hold your drink on a night out then that might just tip the balance in your favor.
Emoticons and smiley faces are also becoming increasingly popular so why not show the employer that you’re up to date with the latest trends
As regards fonts, it’s not important. Any old one like Courier is fine but try to avoid ones like Broadway, Giddgup StD, and Olde English. And obviously (Wingdings).
DON’T: Get untidy with spelling
Over 50% of recruiters (or nearly 1 out of 2) highlight poor spelling and grammar as their number one reason to lose faith in an application.
In fact, when it comes to making a tough decision over similarly qualified applicants, this could even end up being the direct reason for missing out on a roll.
Poor spelling makes you look unprofessional and unprepared – two qualities not generally desired by hiring managers.
No matter what stage of your career your in, never underestimate the importance of proof reading. Pay a close friend, or better still a professional, to catch any under-looked mistakes, and help take your application to the next lever.
Re-reading: it’s impotent.
DON’T: Forget your contact details
So you’ve written an ass-kicking CV, put your work and life experience across well (without overdoing it) and have impressed the employer. Unfortunately, you haven’t included any way for them to contact you.
As ridiculous as it seems, this does actually happen. Some candidates spend so much time perfecting the finer points of their application such as what computers they use and when they went to Thailand, that they simply don’t take care of the basics.
As mentioned in another article, make sure whatever questionable characters you’ve named on your CV have been paid in full. If not, they could say anything about you.
It’s always a good idea to let your references know that after paying them, they might be getting a phone call or email, and to make sure, at the very least, they actually remember who you are.
And double check that their contact numbers actually exist as there some unscrupulous professional referencers out there who often take payment and give you a false number so check it!
And it’s goes without saying to make sure your own pay-as- you-go set-up is working. Always top it up with a fiver when you send a CV.
*25% of 4 independent recruiters contacted by Accolade.
* The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Accolade Recruitment only and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other Recruitment agency or the Department of Employment. Any examples of analysis or case-studies discussed within this article should only be utilized in real-world situations at the candidate’s risk as they are based on often limited and debatable source information.