When is your CV not even worth sending out?

The CV Writer, helping you write a CV, guiding you to a career.

And the answer is simple; when it’s full of pointless words that have no meaning or use. We are sent on average 100 CV’s a week for review. Many of these CV’s are of a very high standard and only really need some minor corrections and changes to make those one or two all important improvements that can mean the difference between being invited for the interview and not being invited.

But on the other hand we also receive a number of CV’s that on first sight we can understand exactly why they are not winning their owner an interview. Some of these are very basic things. In this article we want to try to show you some of the things we receive in CV’s from people.

For privacy and data protection reasons we cannot re-produce CV’s that people have sent to use in our professional capacity, but we can give you a flavour of some of the things we see written in people’s CV’s that really shouldn’t be there.

One of the most common things we see is where people actually use Curriculum Vitae or Resume in big bold lettering at the top of the page, there is no need to be stating the obvious in your CV when the recruiter receives it they know what it is. You could equate this with having your own name tattooed backwards in big letter on your forehead so you know who you are in the morning when you look in the mirror.

The next basic mistake is again all about people stating the obvious; they lay out a CV as follows:

Name: Joe Bloggs
Address: 15 Any Road, Any Town, Any County, BB1 7HH
Home Telephone: 020 1234567
Mobile Telephone: 07722 111111

And then to really point out the obvious they have Name, Address etc in bold to point them out. Ask yourself this question:

When you write a letter to anyone do you write your name and address in the same format? If the answer is NO then why have you written the details in that way on your CV?

So many people also have a habit of thinking if I use a nice designer font for my name that it will make me stand out more, the simple fact is that it doesn’t make you stand out if you use a nice big bold fancy designer font, the one way to stand out is to use the right words that answer all of the recruiters questions, and the recruiters standard questions they are looking for answers for from your CV are:

  • Does this person have the skills we need to fill the position?
  • Does this person have the experience we are looking for?
  • Does this person have the qualifications we are looking for?
  • Does this person have the right aptitude to fit in with our company?

They won’t find this answer in fancy, designer and multi coloured fonts or nice patterned borders around the edge of the pages, or big boxes all over the page.

We have talked before in a previous article about the importance of having a personal profile at the top of your CV. It’s your chance to tell the employer in a few short sentences just what you have to offer them in terms of your skills and experience. But so many times we see people’s CV’s with personal profiles written along the lines of:

“I am a dedicated and willing person always happy to get stuck in to a challenge, putting myself forward as a leader and showing my potential through hard work and dedication. I strive to impress and exceed all expectation and I work really well both on my own and within any team.”

Nine if not ten times out of ten a personal profile written in this style would be of no benefit and won’t score you any points with the recruiter; in fact you’ll be extremely lucky if your CV hasn’t already thrown away at this point.

The next section of mistakes comes within what some people calls Skills Set or Skills profile (there are many other variations of this) but the basis is the same, this is where you can showcase specific skills you think the potential employer should know about you. We see to many people wasting this opportunity to really show their talents by using the following “skills”

  • Works well in a team
  • Great time keeper
  • Expert in my field
  • Excellent manager
  • I’m not good working on my own I’m the joker in the pack
  • Making people laugh Love working hard

Some of these may sound as if we’ve simply made them up, but we really do receive many CV’s with those exact words written in them. Your CV is designed for one thing and one thing only to get you an interview.

It is a sales document designed to sell the idea in the recruiter’s mind that they really want to meet you because of what you have written in your CV. Even for what some people would see as a mundane job you can really impress a recruiter with your use of words.

Putting the right words in the right place can make the difference between being offered an interview or having your CV thrown in the bin.

Words like Achieved, Delivered, Organised, Prioritise are the types of words that you should be using in your CV they are known as Power Words because they have impact and stand out, and they stand out far more than a size 24 font in thick bold lettering that just says Curriculum Vitae.

Your CV is all about delivering impact statements, short punchy lines that contain power words that deliver your point and give the recruiter the ability to put a quick tick on their checklist against your name.

The next set of common mistakes comes within the Responsibilities/Duties section of the CV again we see many CV’s with the following lines written in them:

  • Open up in the mornings
  • Make the coffee for everyone
  • Type letters for my boss
  • Cover for my supervisor when he skives off
  • Drive a van round the county Work in a warehouse
  • I did all the packing work
  • I wrote all the invoices
  • Chased people round to get results

Again you’ll see none of these statements really mean anything, they don’t contain any strong power words, and they don’t make you stand out as someone that can answer the recruiter’s questions we listed above.

I wrote all the invoice for instance could be changed to Produced all the companies invoices, you’ll notice how different this statement now sounds; removing the I and replacing wrote with a power word Produced gives that relatively simple statement far more impact on the reader.

As you see from the simple example above changing just one word can change a mundane boring line in to a line that carries far more impact and can make the difference between being offered an interview and having your CV discarded at the first sift.

One the most common mistakes we see on CV’s people send to us is the use of the incorrect spell checker, MS Word is set to a default of English US and not many people carry out the simple task of changing that to English UK, which means when they run the spell checker words like Organised are changed to Organized (z is the American spelling) but many people place blind trust in the spell checker and assume that they spelt the word wrong and that the spell checker must be right.

There is an art to writing a CV and it’s not art as in how the page is designed, i.e. how much time you spend deciding which designer font to use, or what colour your headings or boxes should be, the art of CV writing is in the words you use in the CV to show the recruiter who you are and what you can do.

Now look over your own CV and see if you would honestly receive the ticks on the checklist as a recruiter for the way your current CV is written, here are the questions again:

  • Does this person have the skills we need to fill the position?
  • Does this person have the experience we are looking for?
  • Does this person have the qualifications we are looking for?
  • Does this person have the right aptitude to fit in with our company?

If after giving your CV the once over you find that in your own opinion you wouldn’t seriously consider offering yourself the interview it’s time to get your thinking cap on and get stuck in to re-writing it.