The National Citizen’s Service recently carried out a survey of 500 employers asking what mistakes people made on their CV’s that would land applications on the ‘no’ pile. The most ‘popular’ ten answers were:
- Bad grammar
- Spelling mistakes
- Poor formatting
- CV longer than two pages
- Casual tone
- Use of jargon
- Unusual font style/size
- Exam grades listed in full
- Generic interests such as cooking and reading listed
- Lack of activities relating to personal development
At BHT we make very little use of CV’s, preferring to ask people to complete an application form and to say how they meet specific criteria from the person specification. It is not a perfect system, but what process is?
Some applicants can let themselves down from the outset by not following the instructions given, by writing long, rambling statements which might cover the essential criteria but they do their best to hide it.
An application form that has spelling and other obvious mistakes rarely escapes the ‘no’ pile. My conclusion is that if an applicant does not make an effort when advocating on their own behalf, how confident can I be that they will make an effort when advocating on behalf of clients?
Poor grammar is likely to incur my wrath. I am a self-confessed grammar nerd who even uses correct punctation and properly constructed sentences in text messages.
I have been known to cry out in horror when people substitute ‘your’ when they mean ‘you’re’. By contrast I take great pleasure when the Oxford comma is used.
Occasionally applicants write on the application form: “see CV”. That smacks of laziness. If we wanted a CV we would have asked for one and not bothered asking for a completed application form.
Sometimes applicants try to be clever, believing that it will make their application stand out. I once received a blank application form with a note attached. The note said that the applicant hadn’t completed the form because he was confident that when we met him we would know immediately that he was the right person for the job. At least he didn’t make any spelling or grammar mistakes, but he immediately joined the ‘no’ pile.