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What do employers absolutely not want to see on a CV?

Dina Al Khatib

1-   Use the correct verb tenses

When writing your CV make sure that all of your verb tenses are in the past tense for past positions, and in the present tense for current positions.

  • Current position: “Prepare sales presentations.”
  • Past position: “Prepared sales presentations.”

When your CV is grammatically correct and mistake-free, it shows employers that you’re attentive to details.

2-   Send it in a PDF format

Before sending your CV to employers, convert it to a format which will enable the recipient to read it, but not make any edits.

  • You can convert a Microsoft Word document into a PDF by choosing File > Save As > Save as Type: PDF.
  • If you want to send your CV as a Google Doc, make sure you grant the recipient the “Can View” permission only.

3-   Choose the correct email address

Your email address can say a lot about you, and it won’t go unnoticed on a CV, because the email is sometimes the first point of communication between you and the employer. Do not include your current workplace email in your CV and set up a professional separate email for your job hunt.

  • Include some iteration of your real name in the email address, and remove addresses like from your CV.
  • Stay away from outdated domains like Yahoo!, Hotmail, or AOL and upgrade to Gmail instead.

4-   List the most recent positions only

If your professional experience extends to more than years, refrain from listing all the positions you have held since graduation. This will make your CV longer and will make it harder for employers to scan through it.

  • Leave out irrelevant positions, like the summer jobs that you have worked when you were in university.
  • Leave out short-term positions that are less than3 months, unless the experience will add value to your resume.

5-   Use professional and consistent formatting

Unless you are a designer, do not get too creative with your font and overall CV formatting. Keep it simple and choose a font that’s easily readable and professional. Make sure that you use one font consistently, throughout the entire document, otherwise it would look messy and distracting.

  • We recommend using the most common CV font: Times New Roman, in size-point font and black.
  • Make sure you’re using bullet points to list out your accomplishments underneath each position, and limit them to five or six bullet points per post.

6-   List your accomplishments, not your responsibilities

Mentioning the goals and metrics that you have driven, will not only set you apart from the competition, it will also make the recruiters view you as a successful candidate.

  • Accomplishments: Grew sales by 15% in a period of 6 months by redesigning the landing page.
  • Responsibilities: Was responsible for redesigning the website’s landing page.

7-   Do not use “Proficient in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint”

It might have been okay to add this phrase to your CV years ago, however, basic proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite is assumed for college graduates these days.

  • Instead of adding the phrase that everyone else uses on their CV, replace it with specific skills. Example: “running pivot tables, VLOOKUPs, and complex data modeling”, instead of “proficient in Microsoft Excel”.
  • Take courses in other software that will help you in your career, and add them to your CV; like Adobe, AutoCAD, etc.

8-   Add a skills set that is different than everyone else’s

Avoid listing over-used skills like: leadership, time management, excellent communication skills, etc. Chances are that most job seekers have the same skills mentioned in their CVs as well.

  • When you apply for a job, take a look at the list of skills required specifically for the job, and make sure to feature those skills, if you have them, in your CV.
  • List some career-specific skills in your Career Objective section, in order to highlight them and be able to catch the employer’s eye.

9-   Add a detailed job description of your roles

Your professional experience is one of the most important factors in your CV. After scanning your CV quickly, most employers will jump straight to your professional experience and specifically to your current role.

  • Always include all newly acquired tasks and experience. Do not just repeat the tasks that you mentioned in previous roles.
  • Bullet point your achievements to make it easier for employers to read and scan through.

10-   Leave out reference details

Employers will not ask for reference details until offer stage, so there’s no need to waste space on your CV by including the names and addresses of previous managers.

  • Avoid using the phrase “References available upon request”. If employers want reference details, they will ask for it.
  • When you give out someone’s name as reference, be sure that you have their permission to use them as reference

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