When it comes to writing the perfect CV, it can sometimes seem as if everyone’s an expert…
Unfortunately, opinion is often mixed when it comes to what’s right and wrong. And whether you’re just starting out in your career, or you’re more experienced as a jobseeker, it can be difficult to distinguish between the two.
So how do you know the difference between CV fact and CV fiction? Here are eight myths you should avoid when writing your CV:
1. It’s never actually read by a real person
It’s a common misconception that whenever you upload your CV online, it will only be read by a computer system scanning for keywords.
The fact is that a recruiter will always read a CV you’ve submitted to them directly, even if they decide to skim-read it themselves. Cramming in an excessive amount of obvious keywords will only make your CV look repetitive and unoriginal.
There may be a chance they use an online database to source your CV, which is where this myth stems from, but unless you’re specifically writing something with this in mind, it’s time to put your robot recruiter paranoia to rest.
2. It’s a ’one size fits all’ document for every job
We hate to break this to you, but sending the same CV every time isn’t an option.
Recruiters are pretty quick to spot who’s passionate about the role and who’s just throwing out CVs everywhere they can and seeing who bites. In their eyes you’ve probably applied to hundreds of others with no real interest or attention, and wouldn’t even know what the company was if you got a response.
Take the time to research the role you’re applying for and tailor your CV to fit the requirements of the job, and you’ll start to dramatically increase your chances.
Remember: It’s better to spend more time and effort applying to two or three jobs than applying to ten without even reading the job description.
3. CVs should include everything you’ve ever done
So you did two weeks work experience in a nursery in Year 10 – that’s cool. But unless you’re applying to a job in childcare, then it’s probably not worth mentioning.
Remember, your CV should only be two pages maximum. Only include relatively recent, applicable experience that shows what transferrable skills you have learned and can carry over to your future role.
Otherwise your CV will be way too long and full of unnecessary information.
4. You don’t need a CV anymore
Writing a CV is so last century. Surely that old formality is basically obsolete by now, right?
Not true. People commonly make the mistake of thinking that these days ‘who you know’ is more important than ‘what you know’, and as long as they get in with the right crowd and get a friend to recommend them, a CV is totally unnecessary. Social networking sites are undoubtedly a good way of promoting yourself and your achievements, but still aren’t a suitable alternative to a CV.
In fact, there are very few exceptions where you can get away with not having a CV. To avoid any potential embarrassment, always provide one for any job you’re applying for.
5. Work gaps must be explained in detail
So you didn’t work for a few years because you were busy having a baby, or had to address a family emergency abroad which meant you living unemployed in Alaska for a year – it happens.
You’re entitled to a personal life outside of work, and you don’t need to broadcast every detail of it for the benefit of your prospective employer.
Keep your CV professional and focus on the positive, not the negative. Recruiters are more interested in your experience and skills, and any gaps of less than a year or so aren’t likely to prove much of a hindrance when it comes to landing the role.
If you’re still struggling, try reading our tips on how to explain a gap in your CV.
6. Sports and hobbies are a vital part of every CV
If you have a unique, exciting hobby that makes you stand out e.g. you go snowboarding in the Alps every month, or you’re a pro rock climber – then feel free to mention it in your CV. Especially if these hobbies have gained you awards or you’ve taken part in big events like charity fundraisers.
However, don’t feel you have to include something. Everybody likes ’socialising with friends’ and ’going to the cinema’. It’s a given. Nobody hates socialising with their own friends. If you do you need to get some better friends. Or, possibly, some kind of cat.
If in doubt, just think whether it’s a good conversation starter. Or you could read our guide on what hobbies and interests to include on your CV. That too…
7. Grades are top consideration
Be selective with what qualifications you include.
If you’ve just finished your GCSEs or A levels, or you’ve gone for a graduate position, placing emphasis on what you’ve studied is fine. Although you might want to save space by listing them as eleven GCSEs A-C instead of addressing every single subject.
If you’re slightly further on in your career, it’s not likely that GCSEs will be the most important deciding factor for an employer. So focus on your highest qualification (e.g. your degree), or more professional qualifications. Simple.
8. A few typos and grammatical errors are expected, no big deal
It’s important that you go through and proof read your CV for errors in text and presentation.
The odd spelling mistake might not seem like the worst thing in the world, but it will suggest you lack attention to detail and indicate that you’ve rushed in creating it.
There’s no point risking losing out just because the competition have used spell check on their document and you haven’t – especially if one of the job requirements is ’attention to detail’.
Although creating a good CV is important, there’s more work to come before you get the job.
If you succeed in impressing a recruiter with your CV then you’ve passed the first test and got yourself an interview, but not the job (yet). It’s up to you to prove yourself from there, and make sure what you’ve written on paper matches up to real life.
Need more CV advice?
It takes an employer just seven seconds to save or reject a job applicant’s CV. This means creating a succinct CV is absolutely vital if you want to land that all-important interview.
To find out how to make your CV stand out from the crowd, buy James Reed’s new book: The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview.
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