James Rice, Head of Digital Marketing at WikiJob on:
Five things never to put on your CV
Writing or updating your CV takes a lot of effort, so you’d probably be surprised how little time graduate employers take to assess whether you might be the right candidate.
Five minutes? One minute?
Try six seconds. This is a field where first impressions count for everything, and where mistakes or a lack of professionalism can make the difference between the in-tray and the discard pile. Often those errors are seemingly trivial ones that you may not realise are what’s behind your application getting rejected.
Make sure your CV passes the six-second test by ensuring these five things never appear on it:
- Your life story or too much personal info.
Avoid the waffly introduction about you being a ‘dynamic, hard-working sales professional’ or something equally generic. Think about what makes you stand out, and your achievements to date, and write a professional synopsis that matches the skills the employer is looking for. Also avoid mentioning your religion, age, sexual orientation, marital status, etc – your potential employer doesn’t need to know that, and can’t ask you.
- Responsibilities without results.
Make sure that for every position mentioned, you quantify the results and demonstrate the impact you had. Don’t say that you increased sales: say what you did to increase sales, in what timeframe, and what percentage rise in revenue that led to. Even if you’ve not had a full-time position yet, you may have raised money for charity (how much and what did you do?) or been leader on a student project (what did the project achieve?).
Read more about how to craft an achievement-focused CV.
- A list of every job you’ve had.
Don’t be tempted to include summer jobs that aren’t relevant to the role you’re applying for, or that first job in the post office for a month when you were 16. Focus on the positions that have relevance (though don’t cut a job out if it creates a gap between work positions – include it but just with less detail).
- Dense blocks of text.
Stick to the rule that your CV should be no longer than two pages, but remember that white space is your friend and will keep your CV legible. Don’t use a tiny font size or an unusual font, and don’t write long sequences of text in verbose language. Short and punchy is best.
- Unprofessional contact information.
When you’re at uni or off travelling, it can be fun to have an email address like firstname.lastname@example.org, or a Twitter handle your friends will find hilarious. Recruiters are unlikely to find it so entertaining and may consider it unprofessional. Create a new email address, and don’t include any social handles that could invite mockery.
What do you think? Have you ever included any of these in your CV, or did we miss anything important? Please let us know by leaving a reply below.
WikiJob is the UK’s largest graduate careers forum, with lots of information on CVs, interviews and aptitude tests, as well as job posts for graduate employers.