No, not that way.. this way..

Over the many years of my career in recruitment, and now in my own company, I have regularly presented seminars for groups on how to write a CV and undertake job searches in today’s market.

A candidate’s recent feedback was, ‘It was nice to hear about what ‘not to do’ as there seems to be a lot of information on how to do things, but not as much on what not to do’.

So I am going to talk about the ‘not to dos’, starting this week with your CV.

  1. Use only a few fonts.
    Too many variations in font and colour, looks messy and untidy. First impressions count. You should use one font with a bold and maybe one other size. The font size should be between 10 and 12.

  2. Don’t include everything.
    Your CV or resume is about getting an interview. It’s a step in the job search process. The interview gets you the role, and that is when you can expand on your expertise.

    Your CV should be three to five pages max, not 11 pages, or 22 or 44. Board CVs should be two pages ideally.

    If you have an academic CV, I suggest that you have a resume of three to four pages highlighting your skills, capabilities and key achievements. You can then include an appendix that can be longer if needed. A scholarship summary in the resume can help highlight the key appendix components.

  3. Don’t highlight your negatives.
    Don’t include things like: ‘While I have not directly worked with x’; rather, talk about what you have done.

  4. No buts.
    I hate the words but, get, so, and hate. Be more creative. Think about the verbs and alternatives we have talked about, for example, compiled, developed, founded, reviewed, although, acquired, grew, changed, progressed, obtained, subsequent, therefore, accordingly, consequently, opposed to.

  5. Don’t just use the shortened version of a word – i.e. acronyms.
    For example, if you write ANZ, it can mean the following:
    • Australia and New Zealand
    • Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited
    • Air New Zealand (NZ national airline)
    • Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (publisher)
    • Archaeology in New Zealand (quarterly journal; New Zealand Archaeological Association)
    • Airport Noise Zone.

      It is only okay to use acronyms within a CV if you have explained them at least once earlier on. Don’t expect the person reading the CV to know all the idiosyncrasies of the terminology in your industry.

      And yes, I did have someone from the finance industry apply to an ANZ general manager scientific role. Rather, it is a very different company. Additionally, the candidate had not taken the time to read the position description.

  6. Try not to use brackets.
    It’s in the CV, or it’s not. The only exception is, as explained above, for acronyms.

  7. Think about your name.
    I find modern-day Customer Relationship Management (CRM) databases that recruiters use can only really handle two names. If you like to use your middle name on your CV, when it uploads, it can go in as the wrong name. It can be confusing when trying to find the person and match up their name.

    For example, take the name John Jacob Wright. The name may go into the database as four different options:
    • John Jacob
    • Jacob Wright
    • John Jacob-Wright
    • John-Jacob Wright

      I know it’s a small thing; however, I did lose a candidate in my database recently. He applied for a role and had sent in his details, but he had a CV with four names on it, so my CRM used two of them that he did not use regularly. It took us a while to sort out why. It is another way that you can be left in the black hole and not be found by employers.

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