CV disasters and how to avoid them
A CV is your big chance to impress a potential employer, and it's a pretty damned important document. It will never land you a job on its own, but it plays a major part when it comes to getting you through that dreaded first cut and in front of an interview panel so that you can really show what you are capable of.
As such, it's important not to make a total mess of it. At Ascent Solutions, we can offer expert advice when it comes to CVs to help yours to stand out from the crowd - but getting the basics right is not rocket science...
1) Make sure it is free from spelling mistakes and typos.
I'll freely admit that spelling isn't my forte, so I often find myself turning to spellcheck, using a dictionary, checking a word usage online, or asking someone else to check what I've written. In your one big shot at getting your dream job, why bugger things up by sending in the equivalent of an epileptic monkey head butting a keyboard? A few examples of the kind of thing I'm talking about:
I have excellent attention to detal. (Would that be detail? Bad start, pal).
My department turned over £3 million anally. (My god I hope this was meant to be annually. Please baby Jesus.)
I was given a plague for salesperson of the year. (What an odd bonus system).
I am comfortable in a pubic-facing role (Me too, but I'd list this one under ‘hobbies')
2) Make sure you appear professional
Although the proliferation of Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn and the like make it easier than ever for companies to find out ‘more' about the people applying for roles with them, that doesn't mean you shouldn't sound professional on your CV - and if your Facebook profile is a succession of pics of you with your arse out then for goodness' sake make sure it isn't viewable by all.
An old colleague of mine was struggling to get any joy with his CV, so asked me to take a look after he had been rejected before making the interview stage on umpteen occasions. He was using an email address of ‘onedamnedsexymutha@XXXXX.com'. Would you fancy emailing that account to ask them in for an interview?!
Years back, I also once received a CV covered in grease stains and chocolate fingerprints - and a mate of mine once had a CV that was printed on the back of a printed out email detailing holiday plans. Those are two candidates who must thank god that most CVs end up going through job boards electronically these days as I bet they struggled to find work prior to that happening...
3) Don't tell lies!
Everyone will think it is okay to tell the odd white lie on a CV but don't be stupid - you'll be interviewed on the strength of what you claim you can do, so if you can't do it, you'll be found out sharpish. Some examples of the kind of idiocy to avoid:
Claiming you can use software that you can't. Another friend of mine invited a designer with ‘3 years' experience in InDesign' for an interview. When they arrived, they were given a test and didn't know how to start the programme up, let alone use it. The job would have involved using the software to a highly professional standard - so why the bloody hell lie about it?!
‘I have 28 years of sales experience (in dog years; 4 in human years)' is one I read on a CV horrors website once that also sticks in the memory - no need to dress things up that much!
Similarly, fudging dates to cover periods of unemployment can also backfire, especially if you then use references from the businesses where you have lied about leaving! The same goes for telling lies about your salary to inflate your offer from the new company - your P45 will often end up in the hands of accounts, and lies can and will get found out.
4) Tailor your CV for the job
No two jobs are the same, so no two CVS should be the same. If you are serious about the role you are applying for, revisit your CV with each application to make sure you are clearly ticking all the boxes on the job and person specification. Another example of a stupid mistake that derailed an application was when an old boss of mine received a CV - with a covering letter addressed to our biggest rivals. It was filed in the bin pretty much immediately...
5) Refrain from devouring a tome offering linguistic alternatives (Don't swallow a thesaurus)
Something that I know gets the goat of many hiring managers and recruiters is when candidates seem to think that their CV should be treated as an application form for Countdown. Just say what you want to say clearly and simply - don't use a thousand words where ten will do, and don't use pompous language to dress up your job because all you succeed in doing is sounding like a pompous pillock.
If you feel the need to describe your previous role as being ‘an engaging customer relations professional focusing on front-of-house customer solutions through the use of effective distribution of resources, ensuring that customer expectations of cleanliness and hygiene were managed and delivered at all times while remaining compliant with all relevant legislature' then don't expect anyone to bother reading the rest of it. Just tell people you used to clean the bogs at McDonalds and focus on the positive skills you DID acquire doing the job, rather than dressing it up with a load of mumbo jumbo.
These are basic tips - obviously avoiding the simplest pratfalls is not always as easy as one might think. However, if you've got the basics right, then there is still a lot to be said for polishing your CV and adding those little details that can make all the difference - so if you do fancy enrolling a bit of help then we'd love to hear from you...
Keep an eye out for more CV disasters next week - along with some handy hints on how to make your CV stand out from the crowd.
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