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10 Things You Might Be Doing Wrong In Your CV

10 Things You Might Be Doing Wrong In Your CV

Above all else, a CV or resume is a serious document. Getting a job is a serious undertaking. And when you submit a CV, recruiters, hiring managers, or other decision-makers assume that you “get” the dos and don’ts for crafting a document that follows certain norms and formats. That said, there are some common things that many candidates do wrong. You can avoid these 10 errors.

1. Too Much Personal Information

Years ago, candidates were expected to supply name, full physical address, and phone number. In many instances, including date of birth, marital status and number of kids was also appropriate. This was because potential employers were looking for stable individuals who were “settled.” Marriage sort of indicated that. This was all before the days of Title IX and other anti-discriminatory laws.

If you include more than name, phone number and email address, you are making a mistake. And never a picture, please. You may have been voted “best looking” way back in high school, but it is totally irrelevant now. Many CV readers will throw out one with a photograph because they don’t want to be accused of making a hiring decision based upon looks.

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2. Irrelevant or Old Employment

The fact that you worked for 3 fast-food restaurants and worked for a lawn care company during your summers of college – not so much. If you want a potential employer to know that you worked your way through college, save it for the interview, if you are asked, and use it as “proof” that you are a motivated person. But on a CV? Never. Do include:

  • Any unrelated work experience that does show development of important “soft skills,” like leadership or supervision
  • Any internships you may have had in college even though they might not directly relate. Internships indicate that you were selected above competitors and that says something.

3. Exaggerating Job Titles or Responsibilities

Waste management sounds far better than janitor, of course. However, you cannot bend the truth here. If you worked in a medical lab as pretty much an assistant without much responsibility, then you can’t embellish that to look like you were doing research – even if it fits nicely with the research position you are seeking now. Eventually, these things get revealed. People in far more responsible positions (CEO of Yahoo) have lied and been caught several years later.

4. Any Instance of Bad Grammar, Spelling or Punctuation

The chance for errors is greater on a CV than a resume, because for certain positions, CV’s are in paragraph form, as opposed to bulleted phrases. When you allow English errors to slip by, here’s what the potential employer is thinking.

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  • You don’t double-check your work
  • You don’t pay attention to detail
  • You are lazy
  • The job is just not that important to you

Better to have an English expert review all of you paperwork, even if you have to pay for it. You cannot rely on basic spell and grammar checks.

5. Hobbies and Activities that are “Fluff” or Political

Being in a bridge club, being a proud member of the NRA, being a deacon at your church, or playing basketball with a group on the weekends are big No-No’s. If you have nothing better to include in this type of a section, leave the entire section out. Do include a section if your activities include such things as the following:

  • Non-political and non-religious charitable work – e.g., Big Brothers & Sisters
  • Board member of a business, educational, charitable, etc. organization

These types of activities demonstrate commitment to your community.

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6. Even a Hint of Negativity toward a Former Position or Boss

Obviously, if you are going to put a “Reasons for Leaving” at the end of each position description, you can’t say, “The job sucked.” You have two options:

  • Don’t put that section in at all – you can cover reasons in an interview, but even then, never speak negatively
  • Find a more positive way to state a reason

7. Design/Formatting Errors

The layout of your CV should follow an acceptable format, and focusing on creative appearance that veers from that format a lot is probably not a good idea. If you want to add some flair, make it tasteful – maybe a gray background with a dark navy print and border. Adding glitz, fancy fonts, and an ornate border will make you the subject of an office joke.

8. Silly or Questionable Email Address

[email protected] or [email protected] are not suitable, and hopefully you know that. The best solution of all is to get a separate email account just for professional purposes – either through your Internet provider or through Gmail. You can keep the old one for friends – problem solved!

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9. Not Using Bold Headings

Your CV will get about 8-10 seconds for its first “read.” The reader is simply scanning down the page looking for some specific items – keywords/keyword phrases, possibly job titles. You want him or her to see those, so they must be in bold and possibly one font size up from the rest of your text. This makes your CV scannable in that 8-10 seconds.

10. Phrasing Errors

The job you seek had a description. If you do not use some of those keywords in your CV, you are missing an opportunity to be singled out. And, as stated above, try to place them in headings in bold.

The other error is to us vague phrases about your skills or strengths – “high level of organization,” “strong work ethic,” “good team member.” These are trite, overused, and, frankly meaningless.

Featured photo credit: Flazingo Photos via flickr.com

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

        More About Leadership

        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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