CV Pet Peeves – Recruiter’s Perspective

As a Social Care recruitment agency, we live and breathe CV’s. Our goal is to always seek out the best qualities in a candidate and maximise the potential of a persons resume before it gets sent off to the hiring team of the client to review.

While its a very vital and satisfying part of the overall process, I personally do tend to stumble across a wide range of ‘errors’ that are potentially reducing the quality of that person’s CV, and most of these simple errors are repeated time and time again.

Without any external help of an agency or any other third party/new set of eyes, these simple errors are easily being overlooked and unnoticed which could result in your resume being dismissed by a hiring team.

This is a small list of the most common mistakes I come across almost on a daily basis:

Source: Brian Jackson/ 123RF
  • Weird formatting

I have had so much trouble trying to extract information from CV’s broken up into strange text boxes and tables on Word that were used incorrectly. Often these boxes end up being accidentally moved, deleted, overlapping others, off the page and so on. Unless you are applying to a highly creative role, keeping your layout simple is all that is required. Use page breakers to separate sections, and give each section a clear, bold heading with the same font being used throughout.

  • Vague dates

Ideally, every job stated as past or present employment should have dates of commencement and termination, if applicable. Failure to provide this prevents employers from seeing how long you have stayed at the position. Dates are often reflected in any references obtained, so lying about them can also result in employers doubting your credibility. If you are unsure of the month, provide the year. If it was too long ago for you to remember, its probably not worth noting.

  • No order of dates/ employment information

As mentioned above, your list of previous employment or volunteer work should include dates. With this in mind, your most recent employment must be at the top of your list. Employers are highly unlikely to care about your paper round 10–20 years ago if you are currently working in a much more relevant role. It also helps to list your duties for each role under where each role has been stated as opposed to a lump paragraph at the end of the CV.

  • Old contact information

There is nothing worse than attempting to call a candidate, and having a very angry person on the other end of the phone pointing out that they are not ‘X’, it is not ‘X’s number, and its the 200th call they have received for ‘X’ this week. It is even more frustrating, after having to apologise profusely to ‘person who most definitely is not X’, to send ‘X’ an email only for it bounce back. If you want the job, make sure you can be contacted!

Source: Getty Images/ PeopleImages
  • Too much information in a profile

While it is heart warming to read about the progression of your dog’s recovery from a hiking accident (a personal favourite), or how your pulled pork recipe is THE recipe, this may not reflect how able you are for the particular role. This information is useful for an ice breaker conversation at the waiting room before your interview for example, or for your new colleagues who are eager to get to know you. Not so useful if your CV is being nit picked by the hiring manager. Keep your profile centered to your experience, and what path you are aiming towards. Save the stories for the group interviews and make yourself memorable with more than just your skill level.

  • No duties listed for jobs/ no context

Adding context to a job role can make all the difference. For example, CV’s that list places of work, but no job title. If you are applying for a managerial role and have all the experience but there is no evidence, your CV will automatically not be considered. You also need to expand on the jobs that you have listed. If your CV has popped up in a search because of certain buzzwords like ‘care’, you need to state what kind of role this involved as this could range from anything like social care to customer service. Aim to include at least 3 bullet points for each job and state your general duties, skills learned and any key achievements.

  • Unexplained gaps between employment

Some employers request references dating back to 10 years of employment, including any gaps in a CV. This means any gap between employment must have a reason in case a character reference has to be requested. E.g. 3 years of studying will result in a reference from your place of study, or 6 years of raising a family might include the odd volunteer work or babysitting, which is another opportunity for a reference. Unexplained gaps can also be outlined in a cover letter where you could go into more detail if it is relevant. Be sure to add a positive spin by mentioning any skills you worked on or acquired during this time.

  • Not targeted to role

Be prepared to make several different versions of your CV if you are applying to multiple roles or different sectors. A scattered CV can give the impression that you do not have a specific goal in mind, and will put companies off if they are looking for someone with plenty of passion an obvious desire for the role in question. While it is great that you have several interests and skills, you want your prospective employer to feel that the job you are applying for has been carefully considered and evaluated against your needs. Draft several cover letters to also act as an extension to your CV and go into more detail about why the role is suited to you.


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