Resume writing tips: 8 things on your CV that make employers cringe

tips for your resume writing

Want to know what will make employers immediately throw your CV into the “no” pile? These are the things to avoid when you are writing your resume.

Let’s be honest. The dreaded job search is one of the most tedious activities that we, as humans, are ever forced to do. From time-wasting interviews to countless rejection letters, it’s enough to make even the most confident person question themselves. 

And, then there’s the CV. It really shouldn’t be so difficult. After all, you know your work history better than anyone else. But somehow, for most, it’s a begrudging task that forces unexpected self-reflection and causes us to give up as quickly as we began.

As much as we try to deny it, a CV is a crucial part of the job searching process and it’s the one piece of the puzzle you can’t afford to get wrong. It’s estimated that one million people have lost their jobs amidst the coronavirus crisis. With more people looking for work and many businesses either closed or with hiring freezes, the job market is more competitive than ever. In this current climate, it pays to make your CV stand out.

To help you stand out from the crowd, make sure your CV doesn’t contain any of these:

Here are 8 tips for your resume writing:

1. The title of ‘Resume’

There is no other word that is more redundant on a resume than the word resume itself. We know what it is, there’s no need to point out the bleeding obvious! The only title that needs to be at the top of your CV is your name. Say it loud, say it proud.

2. Complicated formatting

Maybe you’ve styled your CV in a way that is visually appealing, eye-catching and modern. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to many, this can do you CV more harm than good. Both employers and recruiters are using new technology that takes advantage of automated systems to simplify their recruitment process. 

While you might think that your resume looks badass, sophisticated Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and resume parsing don’t agree. They’re looking only for specific formatting and language in order to allow your resume to pass through the first screening process.

3. Photos of yourself

The honest truth is, nine out of the 10 photos you might choose for your resume aren’t doing you any favours. Even if you have a headshot that you’re sure shows only your best angles in the best possible lighting, a photo on your resume is unnecessary. Further, you’re opening yourself up to possible subconscious profiling based on your appearance. A photo can do more harm than good in the recruitment process, so there’s no reason to risk having one on your resume.

4. Boring job descriptions

Standing out is key when applying for a job. You don’t want your resume to sound like everyone else’s, otherwise, you will get lost in a sea of the same. Don’t simply rehash a generic job description that could potentially be on every other candidate’s resume. Instead, detail what makes your experience at your previous roles truly unique. Don’t be afraid to use facts and figures – think key clients, key projects, budgets, and KPIs. It’s also an opportunity to boast about any awards and achievements, so don’t shy away from mentioning these, but try to keep it to a maximum of three achievements per role. 

5. Unnecessary pages

Hate to break it to you, but nobody wants to read pages and pages about you and your previous work experience. Keep your resume short and sharp with only two or three pages max. When writing a resume, up to 10 years of employment history is plenty and there’s no need to provide in-depth detail of prior work experiences which have little relevance to the role you applying for now. Make sure the order of your work experience is reverse chronological, with your most recent role listed first.

6. Grammar mistakes

Every single typo and grammatical error on your CV sends a message that is not favourable. You don’t want to be that person. Make sure that you triple check the document before sending it off in an application, and even get someone else to look over it with fresh eyes. Nowadays, with apps like Grammarly, there’s no excuse to have errors throughout your CV, and recruiters are even less forgiving than ever.

7. White lies and fabrications

This one should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how many people bluff lie about their work experience when writing a resume. Whether it’s changing some dates around or giving yourself a promotion on paper, it’s never a good idea. While you think you might be able to get away with it, you would be surprised how often this fails. Whether it’s through reference checks or skilled interview questioning, the truth always manages to come out some way or another. It’s hard to build trust again once you’ve been exposed, so avoid this problem altogether and stick to the truth on your resume.

Plus, if you are offered a job based on lies, your employer is going to find out eventually that you are not qualified for the job. This will end badly for everyone involved. 

8. Cover letter

Your cover letter should always be a separate document that is tailored to the specific role you are applying for. Don’t make the mistake of adding your cover letter to your CV, as the two documents serve different purposes and should always be separate. For your cover letter to successfully catch the attention of the recruiter, make it personal and relevant. On the other hand, your CV can be more general, so long as it includes key achievements and deliverables as mentioned above. 

There you have it, the things you want to avoid when writing your resume. If you’re struggling to put your CV together, don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional to help you get it right. This could be the most important investment you make towards enhancing your career and could be what lands you your dream job.