Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

  • 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.

Advertising

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

Sparklelady@yahoo.com or Studmuffin@gmail.com 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!

Advertising

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

More by this author

Howard Schultz public speaking 8 Books From World-Class Leaders: How To Achieve Phenomenal Success CV and glasses 10 Things You Might Be Doing Wrong In Your CV Star Wars logo Star Wars Films: May The Power Of Money Be With You 10 Books You Must Read to Strengthen Your Leadership Skills 15 Most Motivational Things That Can Inspire Anyone

Trending in Career Advice

1 Clueless On Your Career? Sabbatical vs. Career Break 2 9 Tips for Starting a New Job and Succeeding in Your Career 3 10 Essential Career Change Questions To Ask Yourself This Year 4 10 Job Search Tools Every Jobseekers Need To Know About 5 If You Have This Key Behavior, You’ll Be More Successful Than 90% Of People

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

Advertising

  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

Advertising

  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

Advertising

What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

Advertising

Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

More Tips on Advancing Your Career

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next