What to avoid on your CV

When it comes to job seeking, the ‘what not to do' rules, apply as much as the ‘what to do?' One of these to follow is what not to put on your curriculum vitae. Barry Whelan advises on the do's and don'ts of CV writing



13 March 2013

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Writing your CV is never easy – where to start, what to include, what to leave out? It is daunting and difficult to figure out what to put on your CV. What is the recruiter looking for? Will the way it is formatted affect the decision to interview you and how much detail should you go into? While there are many things to include on your CV, here are a few you should definitely leave out. 

Personal specification: Unless you’re applying for a modelling job, leave your picture off your CV. Whilst in a sales facing role, appearance is important, it is not whether you’re a nine out of 10 that is important, just your professional appearance and level of grooming. The same goes for listing personal attributes, such as your height, weight, race or age. In Ireland we have a tendency to list age, sex and marital status. These are not necessary, but it is up to the individual.

An objective statement: Objective statements are those that start with statements such as, "I’m looking for a job that…" They are waffle and a thing of the past. A personal profile is a stronger statement, but if your CV cannot back up your personal profile, don’t include it. For example, a ‘proven team player’ who doesn’t have any experience working with a team or in team sports, probably shouldn’t list themselves as such. If you’re going to include a statement at the top, make it a personal summary that acts as an elevator pitch. It should touch on your top skills and any major achievements worth highlighting.

References available upon request: It is expected that you will have references. They are checked at every level of the recruitment process. Whilst no one should contact a referee without your permission, it is important to list some past references from previous employers as a sales tool. Let recruiting managers find out through your previous employers how good you are. Including a list of references is far stronger then the generic ‘reference available on request’.

Out-dated or irrelevant information: CVs are about quality, not quantity. Recruiting managers don’t have time to read through three pages worth of positions held, dating back to when you were a babysitter in school. Consider removing any experience that is more than a decade old, especially if it’s not applicable to the position for which you’re applying. Focus instead on experience and education that show you’re relevant and up-to-date on the newest skills and technology.

Incorrect claims: This should go without saying, but inaccuracies or over-embellished education or experience have no place on a Curriculum Vitae. Firstly, you run the risk of being caught (were an employer to do a background check, talk to references or conduct a social media search). Secondly, why would you want a job if you’re not adequately prepared for it? If you don’t know what you’re doing, the jig will be up quickly, and you’ll just find yourself jobless again and having burned important bridges.

From candidate tracking systems to appropriate CVs there are more than enough hurdles to overcome before getting a job interview. The interview itself might be the biggest challenge for some job seekers, but starting the search with the creation of a CV is a major hurdle for many.



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