Thursday, June 30, 2022

CV red flags you must avoid when looking for a job

To increase your chances of making it past a recruiter’s inbox and make it to the actual job interview, ensure that you avoid or explain these traditional CV red flags.

1. Job Hopping

Back in ‘the day’, transferring from job to job labeled one as a ‘hopper’. As a recruiter, I am definitely seeing a trend of much less longevity with candidates in previous positions.

It could be the economy, or it could be a new mindset with the emerging workforce. Unfortunately, many recruiters and even hiring managers may still see a series of short-term jobs as potentially negative.

How to address this? You could consolidate your experience, explain which roles were consultant or project-based, or in the event of a corporate buy-out or similar event. The truth is employers usually want some reassurance that if we hire you, you will be happy at the job for the long haul.

If you provide a satisfactory reason for multiple, short-term jobs, or otherwise convince me that you are looking for a serious and long term assignment, then I will be more than happy to consider you for the role at hand.

2. Having unexplained Employment Gaps

Gaps can be one of the CV red flags, but some recruiters have relaxed a bit on this considerably based on the shaky economy.

While gaps of significance used to mean that a person was either not employable or for personal reasons had left work, this is not necessarily as big an issue anymore. There have been a huge amount of layoffs and for a long period of time great candidates have been jobless.

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But to counter any negative reaction on employment gaps (you never know who is looking at your CV), it is a great idea to include any education or transferable skills you have acquired in the ‘gap’ to show that you have stayed relevant and engaged in your vocation.

3. Lack of Examples

There is a saying among writers that one should “show, not tell” and this is never more true than in your CV. Remember, I am looking at hundreds of CVs and virtually every one of the job seekers is telling me they are the candidate I should hire.

What sticks in my mind much more than telling me you are a gifted sales person is to hear that you developed a new marketing concept that increased top line revenue 23% in just one year!

Or if you are an operations manager who is particularly passionate about safety, tell me about the safety programs you implemented and their impact on your accident rate or productivity. That will really show me that you have what it takes to do the job I’m trying to fill.

4. Not sending in your Cover Letter alongside your CV

Online applications make it very easy to submit a CV, but it’s also important to include a cover letter specifically referencing the position, company and key points that makes you the suitable candidate.

From a recruiting perspective, just receiving a CV without a cover letter is like being at a party and someone coming up and telling you about their day without introducing themselves!

Because of the volume and relative anonymity of job searching, without a cover letter, recruiters can find it hard to believe you are really interested in this particular job and not just blasting out your CV.

I strongly recommend creating a basic cover letter template that you tailor for each job based on the requirements. By sending a cover letter whether or not one is requested, you will stand out from the rest of the applicants.

5. Having an Unprofessional CV

When it comes to your CV, first impressions mean a lot, looks matter and spelling counts. Recruiters are human and most of us understand that your job is not CV writing and that if you were employed for a long time you may not be current on the latest protocol. However, two things that are important to understand is that;

a) Recruiting systems are not human and are not as forgiving if your CV is not formatted to contain relevant keywords, and

b) other applicants are providing well-written, professional and contemporary CV so regardless of your experience you will be at a disadvantage if yours is not.

So make sure that your name and contact information is visible, a career objective or profile stating what you can do in the role, that your experience is listed chronologically from the most recent experience and that you have highlighted your top achievements under each.

If this seems overwhelming, there are professionals who can help you put your best face forward.

At the end of the day, it will be about how well your skills and personality mesh with the hiring company’s needs and culture. Your CV will get you an interview, not the job, but it’s up to you to make sure your CV isn’t being used to rule you out of an otherwise great opportunity.

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