How NOT to put your CV together

I recently wrote an article on How not to get an increase, which surprisingly went down pretty well.  I decided to continue the theme and suggest a few things that should never, ever, be found on a CV. If you want to avoid getting a regret letter, keep reading.

So on behalf of HR professionals everywhere:

  • Send your CV yourself. From your work appropriate email address. The same email address that’s in the contact section inside your CV. Please, do not let your mom, or anyone else, send it from their email address. Replying to the initial email of a candidate to request more information, and in response receiving a reference from their mistress, going into way too much detail, is awkward.
  • Curicuulim Vita. Curruclum Vetae. Coriculem Vite. If you send in a CV with spelling mistakes all over it, don’t expect a call. Putting “Attention to detail” as a skill, but misspelling “management”, gets a CV straight to the nope zone. Similarly, don’t claim to have “Advanced Microsoft Word” skills and then have alignment and formatting errors that make the document look like your pet parrot sat on the tab key.
  • For all accountants, no other human beings use Microsoft Excel for documents with more letters than numbers. Do not send your CV in Microsoft Excel.
  • If you want to save time by copying and pasting your cover letter, please just take the 3 minutes to double check that you have not addressed it to the wrong company. Nothing like getting a cover letter addressed to a competitor to cheer us HR people up!
  • A full body photo is always appropriate….if you are applying to be a model. If you are not applying to be a model, we do not want to see you in your bikini. Iin fact, most of the time we don’t really even want to see your face, as lovely as it is. Do your skills and experience match the actual job criteria? Because that is all we really need to see.
  • If you use a CV template, please, and I ask politely again, please, remove parts of the template you have not populated.
  • Excessive use of CAPS makes us picture you sitting with your left index finger smashed into the shift key while typing with one solitary finger on your right hand. It also makes us feel like you are yelling your experience at us.
  • Celebrate your achievements. If you are a graduate with no work experience, include notable achievements from school. If you are an experienced hire, unless your school achievements are truly remarkable, as well as understandable, please don’t include them. Nothing detracts from a professional CV like someone advertising their certificate of accomplishment in the Chesstastics Championships of 2006.
  • Know your audience. If your CV is going to a company where innovation and technology is prized, you can showcase your leadership skills as the Raid Leader of a Raiding Guild in the World of Warcraft. Personally I would take this in a positive light, but in different industries and different contexts it may not always be well received.
  • If you created your email account at the peak of living your best life at university, and it’s no longer a work appropriate kind of an email address, create another one. Nobody wants to hire scotty.too.hotty, babealicious or holdmybeer_imgoingin as their financial director.

Your CV is your professional fashion statement. So, read your CV. Properly read it as if it’s the first time you have ever seen it. Your CV is the first chance you have of selling yourself, so take the time and effort to make sure that it showcases your brilliance and is clear in terms of your skills set and experience. To remember that your CV is your professional fashion statement and what you look like to recruiters, I’ll leave you with this quote from Miucca Prada, "What you wear is how you present yourself to the world, especially today, when human contacts are so quick. Fashion is instant language.”

Candice Eaton-Gaul

Head of HR, Johannesburg


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