You never get a second chance to make a ‘positive’ first impression. A quote never so true when we apply it to writing a CV (résumé) or cover letter.
It’s probably the first point of contact with a recruiter or potential employer. However, making sure your CV stands out is by no means an easy task.
There is nothing more off-putting to a client when reviewing a candidates CV than to see it peppered with empty jargon or buzzwords that does not help your candidates CV to stand out from the crowd and get them noticed.
Here is a list of overused buzzwords to avoid:
Dynamic – good word but way, way overused
Problem Solver – Instead, tell the client how they would solve a problem
Goal Oriented – so 80s need to be more specific
Self-Starter – so 90s and actually expected of you
Effective – You’re kidding? Shouldn’t this be a given?
Quick Learner – As opposed to…..what slow learner?
Responsible – hmm, instead discuss why or demonstrate how
Capable – another ouch… Most employers see this as a meaningless filler
Creative – not is not a wrong word to use, but be creative and come up with something better
Results oriented – Soooooo overused
Communication skills – Oh really? You better elaborate because the other 500 of your competitor’s applicants claim the same.
More times than not as a recruiter you will need to help educate your candidates to tailor their CV to each vacancy and to dispense with the buzzwords.
Give concrete examples! If the candidate states on their CV that they are creative, encourage them to give a brief example of how they have been creative in their current role and how it benefited their employer.
If they are a team player, then again give an example of where they did this successfully and once more where it made a positive impact on the business.
CareerBuilder in the UK recently surveyed almost 200 employers, and even though nearly half admitted to spending less than a minute looking at each CV, it was still enough time to spot some tragic faux pas.
One candidate thought it’d be sublime; if his CV was written as a rhyme.
The candidate simply blew their chance,
as the client didn’t give it a second glance.
Another candidate, more pressed for time, submitted a CV with nothing on it except for her name, phone number, and a pithy little phrase: “I want a job.”
Many people, in the ‘Hobbies and Interests’ section, invent stuff they think sounds impressive.
It’s not uncommon to find ‘computers’ noted down even if the candidate is still using a Commodore 64, while others write ‘volunteering for charities’ even if the last time they volunteered was while they were in high school.
Regardless, they’re both preferable (maybe) to the survey respondent who had a candidate list his hobby as “lion tamer.”
Under the ‘Experience’ heading, one candidate cited her prior job as Mystery Shopper. She wouldn’t, however, disclose the name of the employer because “it’s a secret”.
And then there are those that are just dumb. One guy submitted a CV with a photo that didn’t match the person to whom the interviewer was speaking on Skype. Even the ethnicity was entirely different.
In the lazy category belongs the candidate whose CV wasn’t emailed or typed or formatted in any way.
Instead, this person thought it’d be a good idea to rip out a page from an exercise book, scribble her credentials, and send it off.
Over my years in recruitment I have come across CV faux pas that are completely mind boggling to say the least and I have outlined below my top 10 favourite:
1. “Nine-page cover letter accompanied by a four-page CV”
Here in the UK there is a radio presenter by the name Nick Ferrari, who once worked with the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and they were reviewing CVs for a graduates post. One of the applicants had a nine-page CV. Rupert Murdoch said, I have been in the media industry for the past 50 years and I have a one page CV. This chaps been in the industry for less than a year and has a nine-page CV.
2. HOBBIES – “Space Travel”
3. MARITAL STATUS:- “Celibate”
Objective: “One of the main things for me is, as in the movie ‘Jerry McGuire’ puts it, ‘show me the money!’”
EMAIL ADDRESS – firstname.lastname@example.org and another one Ionehotmale@hotmail.com
Reason for leaving: “I thought the world was coming to an end.”
“Let’s meet, so you can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over my experience.”
Qualifications: “I have guts, drive, ambition and heart, which is probably more than a lot of the drones that you have working for you.” Good one, insult all of their staff, that’s going to get you the interview. I don’t think so.
Woman who sent her CV and cover letter without deleting someone else’s editing, including such comments as “I don’t think you want to say this about yourself here” I would have loved to have seen what she had written.
Another REASON FOR LEAVING – “After receiving advice from several different angels, I have decided to pursue a new line of work.” Hmmm.
CV tailoring is by far one of the most important things you can do to show a client that you care about the service you are providing them with. And you should be getting your candidates to have a tailored CV for every vacancy that you will be sending their CV through to.
Finally check every CV two or three times before submitting to ensure there is no CV faux pas, as once again you never get a second chance to make a ‘positive’ first impression.
P.S. Tips for writing a successful CV:
Keep your CV short – preferably two pages.
Put your best skills first, or those that are most relevant to the job you’re applying for.
Use simple language and short sentences.
Be positive and enthusiastic.
You don’t need to attach certificates – just list your qualifications in your CV and make sure you’ve got the documents handy to take to an interview.
Make it look good – no handwriting.
Check your spelling and grammar (get someone else to check it too).
Make sure you have an electronic copy handy, so you can email it quickly to employers.
Thought For The Day
Individuals make impressions and judgements about people
somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes with minimal
information. And once those judgements are made they tend to
be hard to undo. They’re pretty much set in stone.