Talent Acquisition

5 CV Red Flags Which Employers Hate

As a recruiter, selecting the right candidate to match your clients’ specification is essential.

But it’s not just about finding that perfect candidate. You need to be supporting them in putting their best foot forward to the employer, too.

A combination of compelling CV content and a well-defined structure is key to your candidate landing plenty of interviews. However, if left unchecked, even the most minor of CV errors could result in them falling at the first hurdle with employers.

With that said, check out these five CV red flags you need to be aware of when you’re helping your candidate secure their dream job:

It’s not tailored to the job

A CV shouldn’t merely document a candidate’s career and educational history, but should instead showcase their suitability for the sector they’re pursuing. Encourage candidates to adapt their CV to match the job description, including keywords and core strengths that are required within their industry.

They should look to reserve room within their CV by shortening role descriptions for less related or older positions and may even benefit from removing less applicable qualifications. This will allow them to provide more depth to applicable experience, emphasizing the value they had in previous roles and displaying the core skills they’ve acquired.

Urge candidates to be unique and detailed within their CV, featuring why they’re the ideal candidate for the specific role in question. Help make the decision process easier for employers by supporting candidates to tailor their CV to every position they apply for.

It focuses on duties rather than achievements

Encourage your candidates to focus on the impact they had within previous organizations within their CV, highlighting key accomplishments. Whilst role descriptions should list the core duties a candidate carried out in each position, advise them to include plenty of sector-specific achievements to prove their value.

Incorporating facts and figures into examples will help strengthen these accomplishments and give more context to employers. For example, if a candidate states they “Brought in 5 new clients within my first month” rather than merely stating they have strong lead generation skills, it’s sure to stand out far more to employers.

Documenting purely the duties within each position will make a CV blend into the crowd rather than accentuating why that candidate should be hired. And it doesn’t end at your candidate’s role descriptions – make sure they’re adding accomplishments throughout their CV.

It’s packed with clichés

Overused phrases add nothing to a CV and merely take up valuable space. Instead, guide candidates to be descriptive, giving specific and unique content rather than stating they are “a strong team player” or they “always give 110%.”

Statements such as the above will result in employers easily forgetting an application, whereas a custom matched CV will make them want to find out more.

Inform candidates of the need to provide definitive details about their experience, displaying exactly why they’d make the perfect candidate for the job.

It’s poorly formatted

CV structure is equally as important as the content within a CV. A clear, well-defined format will enable candidates to highlight key information to employers. Candidates should facilitate ease of reading by breaking up large blocks of text, using bold headers, bullet points, and distinctive sections.

A strong structure will allow employers to simply navigate a candidate’s experience, helping them determine why they’re the right applicant for the post. A cluttered or messy structure will only distract employers’ attention, causing them to miss critical information.

Encourage candidates to incorporate the most significant elements of their experience at the top of their CV, enticing employers to read further. Advise them to draw employers’ attention with a punchy opening and record their career and educational history in reverse chronological order. This will make it easier for employers to flow through a CV.

Ultimately, a poorly formatted CV won’t do justice to a candidate’s experience, so it’s essential they adopt a structure which features their relevancy.

It contains unexplained gaps

If a candidate has any gaps within their career, whether they went traveling, were caring for a family member or were even pursuing other personal pursuits, being honest about these gaps is vital.

Ask the candidate to add context to explain these gaps to employers, helping them understand the reasoning behind any employment breaks. Unexplained gaps may lead to employers discounting a CV, whereas being open will mean employers are more likely to continue with their application.

Employment gaps shouldn’t be seen as a negative, but by not providing any explanation, employers will start to question whether there was an adverse reason behind these gaps. Explain to candidates, that if there is a more complex reason behind a career gap, then they should at least add a short description, enabling them to give more detail once they progress to the interview stages.

By Andrew Fennell

Andrew Fennell is an experienced recruiter, and founder of CV writing service  StandOut CV. He also contributes to a number of leading career pages such as The Guardian, Business Insider and Huffington Post.