10 things I hate about your CV

Dear Job Seeker,

I write this with a heavy heart, and it pains me to say this but I am sick and tired of reading the same old boring CVs day after day. The sheer number of mistakes and issues I come across on a daily basis is making it difficult to find the right people.

To help you write me a much better CV, I’ve compiled a list of the 10 things I hate about your CV. Please take note of them, and don’t even think about sending me a CV with any of these problems otherwise it will go straight in the bin!

1. Your photo

What possessed you to send me a picture without a smile? Is this your passport photo?

I rarely get to see a picture on a CV, and there’s a good reason for it! If you’re going to be so bold as to send me a picture of yourself on your application, then at least make it a professional one. Ideally, I’d prefer it if you just didn’t bother at all.

I don’t want to be put off from asking you for an interview just because of your quality of photo, and I’d much rather see you in the flesh and focus upon your achievements during an interview.

2. The sheer length and amount of text

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz – sorry, I dosed off there!

I was in the middle of reading your CV and I suddenly found myself waking up with it stuck to my forehead. I just can’t seem to figure out whether or not you’re the right person for the job. I can’t see things very clearly with the sheer amount of text to read through.

It would have been far better if you’d have gotten straight to the point. There is no need for such lengthy sentences and paragraphs when bullet points would have been just fine. With so many CVs to read through I just wanted to quickly see if you have the skills, qualifications and experience I asked for in the job advert.

3. The 90s clip art

Good grief! When was the last time you updated this CV?

With such a huge amount of free CV templates to choose from online, why did you send me this old thing? I don’t want to see a CV that’s been botched together by an amateur, and I’d much rather prefer to see a professional, modern looking CV template.

Next time you need to go online and find something much better. There are loads to choose from, and it will save you a lot of time and hassle. All of that time saved could be better spent on improving the written quality of your CV.

4. Your overly personal details

I really don’t care if you have a husband and three children or that your nationality is French-Canadian. All I care about is if you have the right skills for the job, and although I have never discriminated against anyone for their race, culture or family status, this does happen!

Your personal information is very rarely relevant to your ability to perform a job, so there is no need to put it down. Focus upon your skills and experience, and keep everything job related on your CV.

5. The font you chose

Why did you choose this ridiculous font – I can hardly read it? Not only is it too small, but you’ve also used a really unprofessional font type. Times new Roman, Open Sans, or Garamond would have been a much safer way to go.

I can’t also understand why you decided to put so many things in bold and underline, as if I wouldn’t be able to see this information for myself. I am not a stupid person and I don’t need literally everything to stand out of the page! 

6. Your ego

It appears to me that you can talk a good talk, but how do I know you can walk a good walk? After reading your CV, I get the impression that you have a huge ego but are not able to adequately back up your claims.

It says on your CV that you are a ‘great communicator’ and a ‘fantastic team player’ but these are just fluffy phrases. Where are all your examples of how you demonstrated these skills during the workplace?

Further, you’re claiming to have single-handedly doubled your previous employer’s turnover, in the space of just 2 years. How did you do that?

I hate to see such arrogance within a CV, but without real examples, I just can’t believe a word you say!

7. The genericity

After reading your CV I struggled to see how you were a good fit for the job and our company. I can see that you have some relevant skills and experience, but I had to really read between the lines. At one point I almost threw it in the bin because I was getting frustrated!

I hate to read a generic CV as it tells me that you are not passionate about the role, and you haven’t took the time to find out more about what we do. What you should have done instead is tailor your CV to the job so it makes it easier for me to quickly see that you have what it takes.

8. Your inability to use a spell checker

Probably one of the most frustrating things to see on a CV is a spelling mistake. All you had to do was to click the spell check button and you would have been able to correct it before it came to me.

I can see that you have everything we need and we would have loved to have met you for an interview, but your sloppy errors have put me off and I’m worried that you are going to make similar silly mistakes at our company.

Next time have your CV proofread by someone academic who knows their way around a CV.

9. The sheer lack of care

The quality of the paper was dreadful, the layout was appalling, the font you used was diabolical and overall the presentation of your CV was a disaster.

If you can’t take care over a simple thing like your CV, why would I think you’d take care of my company?

10. Your references didn’t know who you were

I contacted one of your references and they were quite surprised to hear from me. They seemed very unsure of whom you were when I told them your name and why I was calling, and they had to call me back.

When they finally called me back the next day I’d already shortlisted who I wanted to see for an interview and I didn’t have room for one more.

My advice for the future would be to choose better references. You obviously chose someone who worked with you many years ago and failed to remember you straight away. What you could have done instead is use a more recent reference, and contacted them in advance to ask them for their permission and to inform them of who might call, and what kind of questions they might ask.

Finally…

I hope my CV pet hates have served to help you write a better CV in the future.

Yours sincerely,

The Hiring Manager

Ps: There’s a great collection of free Word CV templates here – maybe a good place to start?

About Martin Carline

Martin has been a senior manager of a large customer service team within the education services industry, dealing with all aspects of staff recruitment and management. He now authors and manages content for CV Template Master and a number of other leading websites. In his spare time, Martin is an accomplished pianist and teaches all styles with a particular focus on boogie woogie and blues.

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