CV do’s and don’ts

CV do’s and don’ts

Firstly, and I can’t stress this enough – Read it closely before you press “submit.”

Recruiting managers receive dozens – sometimes hundreds – of CV’s for any one vacant position. Often these recruiting managers make their initial ‘fit/no fit’ decision in the first 6 seconds of reviewing the CV[i], so it is vital that your CV catches their attention for all the right – not wrong – reasons!

You may be perfect for the job, but if your CV has just one typo, if it’s formatted poorly, or you use the wrong font, it could easily end up in the “no” pile. It really can be as cut-throat as that.

1. Don’t include an objective.
If you applied, it’s already obvious you want the job. The exception: If you’re in a unique situation, such as changing industries completely, it may be useful to include a brief summary.

2. Don’t include irrelevant work experiences.
Yes, you might have been the “king of making milkshakes” at the restaurant you worked for during college. But unless you are planning on redeeming that title, it is time to get rid of all that clutter. However, past work experience that might not appear to be directly relevant to the job at hand might show another dimension, depth, ability, or skill that actually is relevant or applicable. Only include this experience if it really showcases additional skills that can translate to the position you’re applying for.

3. Avoid personal stuff.
Don’t include your marital status, religious preference, NI number and age. This might have been the standard in the past, but it is not applicable to your chances of getting the job, so don’t include it.

4. Your hobbies?
Nobody cares. If it’s not relevant to the job you’re applying for, it’s a waste of space and a waste of the company’s time. Unless specifically asked for on a company application form, don’t include it.

5. Be wary of too much text.
When you use a very narrow margin, or reduce the font to 8, in an effort to get everything to fit on one page, this is a big no-no. It makes your CV cluttered, hard to read and often impossible to print.

6. Using a header and footer
To put it simply, don’t. Many companies use software that lifts the data from your CV in to their databases and having your address and contact info hidden in a header or footer can block this. Plus, it looks pretty tacky to be frank.

7. Time off.
If you have had a period of time off work, which are obvious by gaps on your CV – explain them. There is nothing more frustrating for a recruiting manager then trying to puzzle together missing pieces of your CV. You should be providing the info from the start. Be careful not to go in to too much detail though. A one liner will do (“2008-2009, time off to look after family” or” Aug 2011 – Dec 2011, career break. Travel across Europe”). However, if you are seeking employment for an American company – it is not appropriate to include that in the body of a CV.

8. References.
If your employers want to speak to your references, they’ll ask you. Also, it’s better if you have a chance to tell your references ahead of time that a future employer might be calling. If you write “references upon request” at the bottom of your résumé, you’re merely wasting a valuable line.

9. Your current business-contact info.
This is not only dangerous; it’s stupid. Do you really want prospective employers calling you at work? How are you going to handle that? Oh, and by the way, your current employer can monitor your emails and phone calls.

10. Personal pronouns.
Avoid including the words “I,” “me,” “she,” or “my,” in your CV. Don’t write your résumé in the third or first person. It’s understood that everything on your CV is about you and your experiences.

11. Present tense for a past job.
Never describe past work experience using the present tense. Only your current job should be written in the present tense.

12. A less-than-professional email address.
If you still use an old email address, like or, it’s time to pick a new one. It only takes a minute or two, and it’s free.

13. Company-specific jargon.
Companies often have their own internal names for things like bespoke software, technologies, and processes that are only known within that organisation and not by those who work outside of it. Be sure to exclude terms on your CV that are known only to one specific organization. The same goes for acronyms.

14. Social-media URLs that are not related to the targeted position.
Links to your opinionated blogs, Pinterest page, or Instagram account have no business taking up prime space on your CV. However, you should list relevant URLs, such as your LinkedIn page or any others that are professional and directly related to the position you are trying to acquire.

15. LinkedIn
If you haven’t got a LinkedIn page by now, or if you have one set up which is vastly out-of-date and not used, it is high time to sort it out. Your LinkedIn page is your ultimate CV, and I can guarantee you – your future key to success!

16. Salary information.
Now this is a tricky one. If the advert specifically says to apply stating your current salary and your expected salary, then you should state it in your covering letter (NOT your CV) and please never use the words ‘market rate’. If the advert does not ask for it, then don’t include it. Including past salaries can send the wrong message, especially if the position you are seeking is likely to pay significantly more (or less) than what you previously earned.

17. Outdated fonts.
Don’t use Times New Roman and serif fonts, as they’re outdated and old-fashioned. Use a standard, sans-serif font like Arial. Also, be aware of the font size. Your goal should be to make it look nice and sleek — but also easy to read. The same goes for ‘fancy fonts’ – don’t try to make your CV look fancy by using a curly font. It looks unprofessional.

18. Buzzwords.
Be careful using words such as “best of breed,” “go-getter,” “think outside the box,” “synergy,” and “people pleaser.” Instead, it is better to include: “achieved,” “managed,” “resolved,” and “launched” — but only if they’re used in moderation.

19. Reasons you left a company or position.
Use your covering letter to outline the reasons why you are wanting to progress from your current position, and if (and only if) relevant, a previous positon too. For example, if you previously worked in a bank, but then left to work for a florist, and now want to go back to banking it is applicable to briefly explain why you left banking in the first place. Normally though, you should only outline in your covering letter (not your CV) the reason for wanting to leave your current position (or reason why you have already left).

20. A photo of yourself.
It can be a good idea to upload a photo to a career website, such as REED, allowing prospective employers or recruitment agencies to see your professional appearance. The key here being ‘professional’ – never include a social photo of yourself, and don’t include a photo on your CV. This may become the norm at some point in the future, but it’s just weird (and tacky and distracting) for now. Most employers will now have a look on your LinkedIn page though, so it is more than sufficient to only have a photo of yourself on there. Which neatly brings me to my next point;

21. Short-term employment.
Avoid detailing a job on your CV if you only held the position for a very short period of time. I have seen numerous CV’s which goes on forever stating jobs only held for 1 day. If you had a period of time where you carried out short-term/ temporary assignments, it is better to bunch these together, saving valuable space for your more relevant and high-profile positions and experience. “2012-2013, various temporary assignments in Insurance. Responsibilities included administrative work, insurance sales (in-bound and out-bound) and peer auditing.”

22. Get creative.
Make your CV stand out from the crowd. Get creative. Especially if you are seeking a position in marketing or social media. Just remember the creativity shouldn’t hide or stand in the way of highlighting your achievements and experience though.