As recruiters, we see CVs every day. Some good, some not so good – but often, with just a few small changes, the improvement is dramatic. This is the Hasson Associates list of common mistakes (and pet hates), and what to do to guard against them!
- Times New Roman/Other bad fonts
This first one comes from our MD, Sinead, whose personal most hated font is Times New Roman. Her reasoning is that it’s old fashioned and hard to read, and most of the office agree. While this is subjective, a bad font can alter the way employers read your CV, but what is a good font? We recommend a simple font, (Arial or Calibri, for example) and stay away from anything too stylised or hard to read. If you want to add a bit of style or colour, stick to titles and subtitles.
- ‘Stong Atention too Detale’/ Strong Attention to Detail
This is an obvious one, but nonetheless, it happens a lot. A CV comes in, and the candidate has stated that they have ‘strong attention to detail’. Sadly, not strong enough to have spellchecked their CV! There really is little excuse for basic spelling, grammar, and syntax errors. However, for those harder-to-spot errors that can go unnoticed, get a second pair of eyes to go over your CV.
- An amuse-bouche
This gripe comes from Catherine, who says “A CV should be considered an amuse-bouche, rather than a 7-course meal.” She advises against large blocks of text and to stick to what’s relevant, what’s informative and what your achievements are. Don’t break down your role to every banal daily task you do, because you talk about those details in an interview.
- How many pages!?
Febe, our consultant for Market Research Operations, brings this point up, and it’s an extension of the previous point. Not only should you keep your CV concise in your writing style, but also don’t drag it out onto a lot of pages. Information should be easy to find, and your employment history should be in reverse chronological order – employers are unlikely to want to read about your job at Clinton Cards from when you were 16 on the first page.
5. ‘Anna is a hardworking and efficient Resourcer’
Anna, our newest Resourcer, points out that writing a CV in the third person can be quite off-putting to an employer. Why? Because it reads like your CV has been written by someone else, and your CV is meant to be an example of your work. Your CV is your chance to sell yourself.
- ‘An excellent communicator’
My cat has excellent communication skills, he squeaks when he wants food, purrs when he’s happy and frowns when he isn’t, but that doesn’t mean that he could conduct an effective meeting with multiple stakeholders. This is a trap that a lot of job-seekers fall into. Making statements without actually putting them into context. Damon says “If you have to tell someone that you’re an excellent communicator, without being able to explain why, you’re probably not one”. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t talk about your skills on your CV – simply back up these assertions with examples and achievements.
The subject of photographs seems to divide people, with some saying it’s nice to put a face to a name and others seeing them as unnecessary and inappropriate. As a general rule, if it’s a photo you’d put as your Facebook photo – don’t use it. If the photo is of anything other than your face, don’t use it. If the photo is of you wearing your wedding dress, don’t use it. If the photo is of you inexplicably crying into your morning cornflakes, don’t use it. You get the idea.
Remember how you said you’re a good decision-maker? Well back that up by sticking to the same formatting throughout your CV! Pick a theme, decide on spacing, decide on a font size, decide to bullet point or not to bullet point – but most importantly – once you’ve made those decisions – STICK TO IT. This isn’t meant to be an exercise in showing off every single thing you can do on Microsoft Word on one page.