When it comes to CVs, first impressions count.
CV writing results in more agonising and confusion than the rest of the jobseeking process combined. The usual advice about a 2-page CV is a good starting point, but people often struggle to distil their career down to 2 pages.
So, the next question often is: what should you leave out?
Keep reading for twenty things to leave off your CV:
- ‘Curriculum Vitae’ or ‘CV’ – It’s as unnecessary as putting ‘This is a piece of a paper’ at the top of a piece of paper.
- The word ‘Résumé’ – You might think it sounds posher or more international, or even allows you to write a longer CV – but don’t use it unless you’re applying for a role in the US.
- Photo – What you look like has no bearing on how well you can do most jobs.
- Video – Don’t create a video CV unless you are in a really creative role.
- Current work phone/email address – Provide your personal email and mobile phone number as your contact details.
- Date of birth or age – Not relevant; and recruiters don’t want to be put in a position of potential age discrimination.
- Nationality – You might be asked your nationality once you’ve been offered the job (for HR purposes), but it’s not needed at this stage of the application process.
- Race or religion – As above, although you aren’t obliged to reveal this at any stage of the recruitment process.
- Details of your marital status or children – They’re hiring you, not your entire family.
- Reason for leaving your last company – It looks like you’re making excuses.
- List of GCSEs/A Level subjects/degree modules – Unless you’re a school leaver or are applying for a graduate role, you should write the number of exams you passed like this: 10 GCSEs; 3 A Levels. Most employers won’t understand specific module titles – only include them if they are relevant to the job spec.
- Waffle – Don’t waste space with unnecessary or repeated information. To put it another way, it is very easy, indeed too easy, to include sentences or paragraphs that tell the reader or automated computer parsing system, little or nothing of value. One example of such waffle could be: “I am a motivated, outgoing self-starter who is able to work on my own or as part of a team who is an excellent timekeeper with people skills”. However, there are many others, such as very long sentences or even paragraphs explaining the corporate mission statements of your last three employers, which do get awfully boring to read … you get the point.
- Adjectives – Wherever you can, cut out adjectives. Adjectives usually go without saying, for example: ‘I conscientiously and diligently managed a large and thriving customer services team of 25 staff’ – of course you did, and it was!
- The first person – Starting each sentence with ‘I’ looks tacky and self-obsessed.
- The third person - Referring to yourself by name – For example: ‘Joe Bloggs’s last role was at X company.’ There’s never a good reason to do this unless you’re a Premier League footballer or celebrity.
- Hobbies such as reading, walking or dining out – How do these universal activities make you unique? You might as well write sleeping or breathing.
- ‘References can be provided on request’ – The employer already knows where they can get references; they don’t need you to tell them. It looks like you’re padding out the content.
- LinkedIn recommendations – These aren’t replacements for traditional references, so don’t treat them as such.
- Clipart/borders/illustrations – Keep your CV simple and free of clutter/designs that can distract readers.
- Tables – They might make it easier for you to achieve a layout you think looks nice, but they may not display correctly to the recipient; and can make information harder for automated parsing tools to read.
Just like packing your suitcase to go on holiday, CV writing is a process of elimination. It will definitely take you a few iterations to get rid of all the unnecessary baggage.
Gareth Lloyd is the Director of Product and Digital Development at Fish4jobs.