Writing your CV can be a tricky job. There are so many things to consider. You have to tailor your CV to the particular job that you are applying for by including all the relevant skills and giving evidence for these, you have to lay the information out clearly so as to be understood and to ensure that it actually gets read, and you must also select the right sections that most effectively demonstrate your unique skills and experiences.
Whilst (annoyingly) there is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to CVs, there are certain things that you should refrain from saying on your CV to avoid it landing in the bin. Below I have put together a list of things NOT to put on your CV that we often witness in careers guidance sessions at the Careers Service.
1. Irrelevant personal information – such as age, gender, marital status, height, weight, health history etc etc etc. Whilst you may be proud of the fact that you are married, 22 years old or are 6 ft tall, unless it’s relevant to the job (or you’re going for a modelling position!) then leave it out, employers don’t need to know.
2. Family information – names of your family, emergency contacts, family occupations and number of pets will not determine whether you get a job or not.
3. Photograph – whilst I’m sure it’s a lovely picture of you and in many parts of Europe a photograph is preferred, employers in the UK prefer not to see this on your CV.
4. Unprofessional email addresses – accounts that you have set up when you were about 14 years old like ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ do not look professional. If you want to be taken seriously then make use of a serious email account.
5. Too many contact details – just include one address, you don’t need to include your term time and out of term address. Make things easier for the employer and you’ll give yourself more space to talk about other important things like your skills!
6. Industry specific acronyms – often your CV will be initially read by somebody in the HR department who may not understand what these mean. Unless they are listed on the job specification then try and explain these and make them as clear as possible wherever you can.
7. Every university module you have studied, ever – you don’t need to list absolutely every module that you have studied in first, second and third year. The employer doesn’t need (or want) to know this. Just include a few relevant ones – around 5-7.
8. Negative words – you’re trying to convince the employer that you are the best person for the job, not tell them they could hire someone better but hope that they hire you out of pity anyway. Avoid saying things like ‘although I don’t have any experience in…’ or ‘not yet graduated’ or ‘limited experience in’ or ‘only know a few words of German’. If you don’t have direct relevant experience then focus on the skills that you have developed in other areas and explain how these can be transferable to the role you are applying too.
9. The word ‘Curriculum Vitae’ or ‘CV’ – we know what a CV looks like so there’s no need to state the obvious.
10. Employer contact details – this includes the company address, contact number, salary and your reason for leaving. Your CV isn’t an application form. All you need is the employment start and end dates, job title, company name, and then a brief list of activities, skills and achievements gained from the job.
11. Spelling and grammar mistakes – proof read your CV! There is no excuse for spelling
mitakes mistakes on your CV as you have lots of time to construct and perfect it.
12. Interests – try to avoid including interests such as ‘going out with friends’, ‘socializing’, and ‘going to the pub’. Although this may be very true, it may be for a lot of people and whilst they may genuinely be your interests, they are not all that interesting (or relevant!) If you need to show that you’re outgoing or confident then talk about other interests that involve using your skills such as membership of a university society of a passion for traveling.
13. A million different fonts – just stick to one font such as calibri or arial and use italics, bold and underlining sparingly. Using all kinds of font sizes, types and colours can be harsh on the eyes and will make your CV hard to read.
14. Rambly and meaningless profiles – the profile is the first thing the employer reads so it’s got to hit the spot. I see lots of profiles that say things like: “enthusiastic, friendly and hard working graduate with a whole range of useful skills developed. Seeking an exciting and challenging position in a leading company that with will help me to develop further.” This says absolutely everything and nothing at the same time. Instead, make it short, simple and specific. What experience? What skills? What position? What company? Find your inner journalist – reveal some brief and interesting specifics without giving the whole game away and entice the employer to read more!
15. Childhood achievements – although winning an award for the ‘best kept bed’ at summer camp at the age of 10, or for being head boy/girl in school was probably a proud achievement at the time, at degree level it’s no longer relevant. It is expected that as a university student or graduate you have achieved much more relevant and recent things!
So how many of these 15 boo boo’s did you find on your CV? Whether you’re a current student, recent graduate or you graduated years ago, give the Careers and Add+vantage service a call on 02477652011 to book an appointment with a Careers Consultant and get your CV checked!