|7 Things Which Will Wreck Your CV|
Best-selling careers author John Lees shares some tips on how NOT to write a CV....
1. Writing it back to front
Most CVs are written back to front, with the wrong kind of information at the beginning and the best stuff hidden away on page 1. Think about the main things you want to communicate (this will usually be about skills, achievements, know-how, attitude) and make sure all these key messages appear on page 1. Better still, make sure they appear in the first two-thirds of page 1, as by that point the average recruiter has already decided whether or not to give you the green light.
2. Hoping your CV explains itself
If you want to do something different and don’t just want a repeat of your last job, you need to sell that idea on paper – just as if you were in the room providing some comments before you hand the document over. A change of direction usually means a short profile explaining what you have done, what you have to offer, and where you want to go next.
3. Underselling everything
CVs and application forms are , at heart, fairly uninteresting documents, and get little detailed attention unless something highly positive (or negative) stands out. As you edit your CV, ask the question “so what?” against every phrase, and always try to express what you have achieved in measurable terms – just doing this will often make your CV stand out from the crowd.
4. Failing to match to the job and organisation
If your CV works in general, meaning it captures who you are and what you’re looking for, you don’t need to do a massive edit every time you apply for a role. But do adjust the order you present information, and change the language to fit the hiring organisation. Write a short, punchy cover letter pointing to 4 or 5 things you have done which are an exact match to the role – this gets your CV read with more attention.
5. Striking the wrong note
Things to avoid: attempts at humour, putting yourself down, being ironic about past experiences or trying to be slightly wacky. This material usually reads very badly. Don’t make negative comments about anything, and don’t make your CV a series of apologies for odd choices and a ‘chequered’ past. Tell it as it is – it’s one career, one history, with you at the centre of it.
6. Get the right kind of feedback
Asking for feedback can be a precarious process because recruitment consultants, in particular, have strong views on CV layout. The best question is to ask “what does my CV say to you?”. If you recognise and like the answer, your CV works.
7. Misunderstanding what your CV is for
Your CV isn’t there to get you the job. All it does is get you through the door. It should contain enough to have already put you in the ‘maybe’ pile for a recruiter. When you’re face to face with an employer, reinforce the fact that you can do the job, show that you will fit in, and whatever you do, don’t talk yourself out of the process by saying all the wrong things.
John Lees is one of the UK’s best known career coaches and author of How To Get A Job You’ll Love and Why You? CV Messages To Win Jobs. His background in recruiter training and assessment gives him unique insights into the difficulties of finding the right job in a difficult market.
See www.johnleescareers.com for a range of free tools and tips.