CV Writing: The reasons you don’t get any replies

CV Writing by Tom NashCurriculum Vitaes, CVs, Resumes- whatever you want to call them, if you want to be employed, you need one.

But how do you know what to put on yours?

Fear not- Tom is here to steer you in the right direction. From the point of view of the poor fucker who has to read these things…

One of my many roles in one of my super important jobs (oh yeah- that’s how freelancers roll, baby) is to look through CVs and writing samples from aspiring writer-types and wannabe digital marketers.

Sometimes there are some real gems in the pile; we’ve found some extremely talented young writers who have been a pleasure to work with… But for every one of them, there have been ten CVs that have prompted a stink-face and swift trip to the shredder.

I could do a whole series on the insanity some people choose to share in their CVs and the batshit things people send as a sample of their writing. In my previous incarnation as a admin bod in a college, an applicant for an apprenticeship chose to submit a short story about their sibling being killed in a hit-and-run accident for their writing sample… The X-Factor approach to employment, I suppose (it didn’t work by the way).

Then there was the fella that likened himself and his search for employment to the plot of The Matrix… Never a good move, people. Unless uber-spack was the impression you were aiming for.

But enough anecdotes, let’s have a look-see at the most common things people put on their CVs that make people what do staff recruitment want to punch kittens:

Meaningless words
Most common is an opening gambit like ‘I am motivated…’ or ‘I have good communication skills…’

Sweet, you possess the ability to get out of bed and you can talk. Why hasn’t Nasa snapped you up?

Your application for the job could possibly be evidence of how motivated you are, couldn’t it? And unless you are learning English as a second language, most employers will assume that you can listen and speak- it’s a pretty standard ability for functioning adults.

Try to be more specific, eh?

GZA from the Wu Tang Clan once said ‘Keep it half long and twice strong’. If it stands true for Rap, it stands true for CVs (note: may not actually be true).

Nobody who has to go through CVs has time to read 5 pages about every single aspect of your professional life since you were sixteen. Unless you’ve done fuck-all then… Pad that fucker out as much as possible.

If you have a degree, is it necessary to include every GCSE you sat? Same goes for any voluntary work or hobbies- it is relevant to the job you’re applying for? If not- DELETE. Tailor that shit to the position you’re applying for.

Incomplete qualifications
‘Completed one year of [pointless arts degree] but left [for whatever reason]’
I really don’t get this one. If you dropped out of a course, why draw attention to it? If you ain’t got it, don’t mention it. You don’t have one third of a degree- that’s not how it works.

Include an incomplete qualification on your CV and all you are doing is announcing to potential employers that you might give up and fuck off. Don’t blame them- you chose to admit it.

Spelling mistakes
You didn’t have time to proof read it before you sent it off? Great first impression. Doesn’t say much for your attention to detail either, really, does it?

For fuck’s sake, PROOF READ.

Numbered pages/name in header
Reckon you’re the only person applying? Umm… Nah.

Many offices try to stick to a paperless policy but the fact is, you can’t read a CV-essay on screen. You need it in front of you.

On any given day, I might be printing out a dozen two or three page CVs to read and go over with my guvnor, as well as all the other super important stuff I need to get done. If they get even a little bit messed up- there goes at least half an hour as I try to piece together which page belongs with which…

No, that doesn’t say more about my organisational skills than it does your CV. It just doesn’t. I don’t have to explain myself to you, you’re not my real dad… Let’s move on, shall we?

Filename: CV.doc
When you emailed your CV, would it have killed you to put your name in the filename? Would it?

Every part of a job application, from your initial application request to the interview is a test of your intuition. If you don’t have the wherewithal to mark your CV as yours, you’ve failed at the first hurdle haven’t you? Or some other cliched sporting expression for ineptitude or failure.

Now that I’ve supplied you with these gems, you can go off and write a CV that won’t make potential employers want to invite you to an interview just so they can slap you round your stupid face.

Good luck!

3 thoughts on “CV Writing: The reasons you don’t get any replies

  1. Tom Post author

    Hey Kris

    If 50 people apply via email for a single position and 45 of them save their CV as something like CV.doc, I (the recruiter) have to go through each file and add the candidate’s name to the filename of each document. Before long, an hour of my day is gone AND I still have everything else on my to-do list to get done.

    If the other 5 have saved theirs with their name or initials in the filename (John Shaft CV.doc, for example)- I’m sooooo much more inclined to invite them to an interview as they obviously have initiative (they realise other people may be applying) and they’ve not added to my workload before even getting the job, unlike the others…

    Clearer now, boss?

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