IT is a sad reality of where we are right now that there are people, even as you read this, staring dumbly at their laptop like a labrador who’s been handed a tin opener, struggling with a task they never imagined they’d face – writing their CV.
Rather like those seaside amusement arcade games that inch 2p coins towards a stainless steel precipice, this pandemic has buffeted skilled and dedicated people out of seemingly secure jobs and left them staring down the chute of 20 more years of needing to work with nothing to cling on to.
The last time the vast majority of these sudden jobless statistics were honing their own resume, the only thing digital about looking for a role was the watch you used to remind you to get to the interview on time. Nowadays it is all about uploading your CV into the electronic ether and praying someone will see in you the person they want to hire.
Those who do the hiring invest precious little time absorbing a cv as it is, but now the job market is more saturated than a window cleaner’s chamois (the Institute for Employment Studies says 50 people are chasing one job in some areas), it will have to be something special to stand out.
A survey of 1,000 people with that responsibility said they take just 34 seconds to decide if a CV is worth more of a look. There are seven screamingly annoying traits that are likely to send a potential employer’s finger hurtling towards the delete button and thus ending any chance an applicant has of even becoming a candidate.
Spelling and grammar
Any obvious error, rogue apostrophe or mangled wording yells ‘sloppy’. I have often rejected out of hand CVs that misspelt my name in the covering letter, got the company’s name wrong or, memorably, spelled their own name wrong.
Exaggerating your previous job title, salary or length of service might be seen as dishonesty because, well, it is. Lying about your education is also a no-no. Almost half of employers surveyed said they’d actually investigated dubious educational claims and called the miscreants out on their untruths.
Inappropriate addresses: Including your ‘email@example.com’ email on your CV doesn’t really say dependable, nor does your @beerzandbantz Twitter handle point to you being an ideal fit at the undertakers you are applying to.
As above, if you feel the need to include a photograph of yourself, make sure it is in suitable business attire and reflective of the person you think the company might be looking for, not dressed as a Smurf clutching a flaming Sambuca and a showgirl.
Get the chronology right: If there is an 18-month gap between jobs caused by you spending that time on a beach asleep or in your pants playing Grand Theft Auto, then find a reasonable explanation. Holes in CVs cause suspicion and six out of ten employers say it is one of the chief reasons their authors are rejected faster than an astronaut with vertigo.
Before you type ‘hanging about with mates watching YouTube’, ‘dressing as a Civil War pikestaff bearer at re-enactments’ or ‘setting fire to stuff’ as your pastimes, think about why that would make you appear interesting or what mental picture your potential employer has just formed of you.
Just too damn long
If a CV strays over two pages you can be sure of two things – no one will read all of it and your potential hirer has decided you are a windbag who’ll drag meetings on for too long and habitually hold fellow employees captive by the coffee machine with long and pointless stories about your non-weekend.
The tough, harsh world of looking for a job has just got ten times harder and way more unfair but a decent cv is a head start. Go to nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/careers for some excellent advice.