The worst CVs ever

You would think that most people would have the sense not to list moonwalking, having a good sense of humour and winning first prize at their primary school sports day on their CV.

You’d also assume most people would use spell check, not write their CV on brightly coloured paper (with glitter) or add the word ‘occasionally’ after sex. But unfortunately, this can be the case and recruiters often have to sift through an awful lot of chaff to find a decent CV. We take a look at some of the most common CV crimes:

Dubious email addresses and photos

It’s all very well having a quirky, personal email address to give out to your friends but we know you want your candidates to be a little more professional when they’re job hunting.

Simon Broomer, senior career planning & job search coach at CareerBalance consultancy, is just one of many recruiters that have instantly declined candidates before even meeting them:

“I once received a CV from a personal email address – and another one with a ‘come hither’ photo which would have got her a job as a model rather than a retail manager.” Needless to say, both candidates were deemed totally unsuitable.

Hobbies and personal interests

The jury is still out on hobbies and personal interests. Can you honestly say you’re really interested in a candidate’s love of Zumba dancing and Cantonese food?

Some hobbies can be useful to know, especially if it’s relevant to the job, it just depends on what the candidate chooses to put in their CV.

‘It’s think it’s OK to include interests but things like ‘fell walking’ and ‘reading science fiction’ will give the impression that they’re a loner and uncomfortable working in a team,” says Broomer.

Generic CVs or cover letters

You’d think that it would be standard practice for jobseekers to show attention to detail with CVs and cover letters but we’re sure you already know that’s not always the case.

Does this scenario sound familiar? “I have actually had covering letters saying how much they want to work for ‘x’ company as they’ve forgotten to change it to our company name,” says Ashley Hever, European talent acquisition manager at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Spelling and grammar

When you see a CV littered with spelling mistakes and sloppy grammar it’s more than likely heading straight for the bin. Gail Bell, managing director at the Interim Alliance & Chamberlain Beaumont consultancy, deals with poor grammar the same way most employers do:

“There are an enormous amount of “mangers” in the marketplace. We automatically eliminate any candidate who can’t spell the word ‘manager’. It’s not acceptable for anyone to get this wrong.”

Too much information

With dozens of applications to get through, sometimes you can come across candidates that decide to skip being clear and concise, and will insist on telling you every last detail about themselves, often full of irrelevant information.

Hever certainly had a lot of reading with this CV: “I once received a 15 pager with the entire first page talking about prizes won at primary school! Too many boxes and an overload of information make a CV hard work for a recruiter”.

Personal profiles – to do or not to do?

Personal profiles that are full of generic terms and clichés can sometimes be really frustrating, especially if at the end you still have no clear idea about the candidate.

Broomer explains: “A profile at the start which says something along the lines of: ‘Energetic and highly motivated hard-working self-starter comfortable dealing with people at all levels. Strong communication skills (oral and written), who enjoys working as part of a team or on own initiative’ actually tells me nothing about the candidate.”

Listing jobs and repeating yourself

Sometimes candidates may state their numerous job titles, but won’t show off what was involved, what skills they used and what it could bring to your advertised role.

Hever comments: “My biggest bugbear is a CV which is just a list of jobs they have done with nothing illustrating the skills they have gained from these positions.”

Wrong dates and unsubstantiated career gap

If you want to take a candidate seriously, it’s vital that the CV has no unsubstantiated gaps or incorrect dates.

Best has a familiar story that you may already have come across: “Very frequently, when I’m doing a telephone interview with someone and ask them to clarify the dates on their CV, they realise they’ve the put the wrong year down by mistake…This will set alarm bells ringing with employers that they might be trying to pull the wool over their eyes.”

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