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Be Careful Wot You Rite: Warns CV Police

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Ninety-five per cent of job applicants are littering their CVs with mistakes.

Kelly Services scoured 200 of its own candidates’ CVs to reveal the shocking truth. Nearly half of all candidates are confused about when and where to use the dreaded apostrophe. The recruitment outfit offered the following tips:

  1. Don’t overcapitalise: Faux pas range from ‘I hold a number of Sailing Certificates’ to ‘I am Self Employed and working for several Advisers’. One candidate wrote her entire CV in capital letters MAKING IT SEEM AS THOUGH SHE WAS SHOUTING, while another wrote exclusively in lower case, even for ‘i’.
  2. Turn the American spell check off. Employers will not look favourably on how you ‘utilized software’ and ‘ran a call center’. While you’re about it, if you want a job in England – do write in English (unless the job advert is in another language.) One candidate sent a CV entirely in Italian for a job in Ireland – even if the position requires Italian, do remember that the interviewer may not speak it. You could always send your covering letter in both languages to prove the point instead.


  3. Don’t abbreviate. Rather than Eng Lang and Eng Lit, write your subjects out in full. It looks lazy. The same applies to initials specific to an industry – not everyone would know that an IEP is an Individual Education Plan.
  4. Don’t leave gaps in your employment history. Employers will assume you did nothing useful during that period. If you took a career break, say so, and give the reason. Travelling broadens the mind, and bringing up a family teaches excellent people management skills, so make the most of these.
  5. Expand on your interests. Rather than reeling off the predictable list of ‘Cycling, gym, reading, travel, computers,’ tell your perspective employer something interesting about how you spend your spare time. Employers like to know they’re dealing with a personality. Don’t, as one candidate did, claim ‘watching Lost’ as your favourite pastime.
  6. Make it look good. But don’t overdo it – you don’t need a Celtic border – but you do need to lay it out neatly and cleanly. Remember it should be intended to be easily read, not to prove that you can use every gadget on your computer – unless you’re a graphic designer, of course.
  7. Consider the implications of your email address. [email protected] doesn’t always create the right impression. It’s easy enough to set up a new, more formal sounding address for the purposes of job hunting. It is a job you’re after – not a date.
  8. Keep it concise. There’s nothing worse than a CV that rambles on for five pages. Your CV is supposed to be a short summary of your experience to date, there is room for expansion at interview. Also, don’t let your last sentence sit lonely on the final page. It looks clumsy and is a waste of paper. Make it fit onto the previous page!
  9. Read it! If you do, you’ll notice that the ‘watering work’ you mentioned at a restaurant and the ‘new thinks’ you like learning, don’t quite make sense. You might also notice that you are still claiming to be doing your old job as well as your current one because you haven’t updated your CV properly since the last time you were job hunting.
  10. Stick to the truth. Any lies you tell will become evident at the interview stage or even worse, during your first week. The aim is to get a job you can do, not to get found out as a fraud later on. Don’t claim to have qualifications you haven’t got – it’s very easy to check!

Steve Girdler, marketing director for Kelly Services said: “Your CV should evolve and develop along with your career. Make it buttoned down, interesting and professional, and that’s how you will be perceived. Each job can have hundreds of applicants, and it’s vital not to disqualify yourself by not taking care over your CV and covering letter. Get a friend to read both and tell you what impression it gives. You may only get one shot at your dream job!”

Out sister site HR Zone recently reported on a warning from an employee screening company that said career hungry employees should stay away from social networking sites.

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