Your CV is the key to job application success – but only if you get it right. As well as knowing what to include to make yourself stand out, it’s equally important to know what NOT to put on a CV.
There are certain things that are likely to earn your CV a one-way ticket to the bin. To illustrate what we mean, we’ve put together a list of 10 of the most epic CV fails the internet has ever seen.
1. Don’t let any typos slip through the net
It might seem glaringly obvious, but proofreading your CV is absolutely essential. Get someone else to check it too if you can.
You’d be surprised how often a sneaky typo makes its way onto a CV. As in this unfortunate case…
2. Don’t list irrelevant experience
Include a comprehensive list of any relevant experience you have. Just make sure it’s your own…
‘Ran a restaurant, got a resume from a lady who listed her children’s accomplishments instead of any of her own for a serving position.
Accomplishments included, but not limited to:
Gold stars from preschool
The ability to walk after only 8 months
‘Mama’ was her first word
Needless to say, she was not called back, but we did consider hiring her child.’
3. Don’t hit ‘send’ without checking, double checking and triple checking
Picture the scene. You’ve spent ages crafting the perfect email and compiling your CV. You add it as an attachment and proudly hit ‘send’. You breathe a sigh of relief. Then you glance back at the email.
You realise you’ve accidentally attached a picture of Nicolas Cage instead.
Need we say more?
4. Don’t put down your relatives as references
Your referees should be previous employers, teachers or lecturers. They should NEVER be your family, no matter how great your mum thinks you are…
‘I had a guy hand me a resume with his dad, mom and brother as his references. I decided to call them…two hadn’t spoken to him in a year and the other said not to put him as a reference. He did not get hired.’
5. Leave out unrelated skills and accomplishments
You might be super proud of the fact that you can recite the entirety of the Titanic script off by heart, but unless you’re applying for a role in the West End stage version then employers are unlikely to be impressed.
Stick to skills, experience and achievements that are relevant to the role you’re applying for. Or you might end up looking like this joker…
6. Don’t include a picture – especially not of you on a night out
There’s no need to include a photo of yourself on your CV – although there is some debate about whether or not it’s a good idea.
However, one thing’s for sure. If you do decide to include a photo (although we think it’s best to be on the safe side and leave it out), choosing one of you on a night out is a big no-no!
‘A picture of the potential employee with a martini on a cruise boat on a night out. Closest thing to ‘professional’ for some I guess…’
7. Don’t go on and on
Hiring managers are often short on time, and are unlikely to read through your whole CV if it’s pages and pages long. As a general rule, try to keep it to two sides of A4.
This guy seems not to have got the memo…
‘I worked at a bookstore when I was in college. One guy turned in a resume with an 8-page cover letter that told his entire life story, including his failed marriage.’
8. Keep things formal
The tone throughout your CV should be formal and factual, and your email or cover letter should be polite and professional.
Whatever you do, DON’T threaten the hiring manager.
9. Send your CV in an appropriate format. CLUE: don’t do it by text…
If you’re sending your CV by email, a Microsoft Word document is usually the most appropriate format.
Lots of employers use ATS (applicant tracking system) software, and Word documents are the most easily searchable for keywords – a PDF document may not work so well.
However, if you’re applying for a job in a visual or design-related field, you may have a more design-led CV that ties in with your portfolio. In these cases, a PDF is likely to be more appropriate.
Either way, there’s one format you should absolutely never send your CV in:
‘My office advertised a paid internship, and put my phone number on the ad for more information. One applicant decided to text me his resume – 50 characters at a time.’
10. Don’t lie
Nobody likes a liar. Apart from anything else, a glaring lie is likely to get found out pretty quickly, and may come back to bite you.
It’s always best to tell the truth on your CV, as demonstrated by this anecdote:
‘Happened to a friend who worked in an aircraft maintenance garage at an airport.
The resume said that the guy had assembled, repaired or participated in the maintenance of many listed planes (some military, some civilian). Credibility was stretched when he said he worked parts of a B2 bomber, but since this was nearby the American airbases in East Anglia (UK) he was brought in for an interview.
After quickly being revealed as someone who knew virtually nothing about aircraft, he admitted he was an airfix enthusiast when he was a kid – basically he was listing all the little plastic model planes he had assembled, glued together and painted with his dad growing up.’
What not to put on a CV: A summary
We think you’ll agree these are prime examples of what not to put on a CV. Learn from their mistakes and brush up your CV today to make sure it’s the best it can be!
If you could do with a bit of help, why not let us do it for you?