13 elements to avoid on your CV

A good CV is often half of the success in the recruitment process. It is the first set of information a recruiter receives about you. It’s a ticket to whether you’ll be invited to an interview. The information contained in your CV is a set of data that the recruiter knows about you at the start. Find out what elements in a CV are worth avoiding or only include depending on the specific situations.

CV – Your Professional Business Card

For many positions, recruiters realistically receive up to triple-digit numbers of CV, and according to statistics, your resume is devoted to “at a glance” several seconds – which determine the contact with you. There are many companies or simply people who specialize in the subject of creating a professional CV, who, after consultation, will perform the service of drawing up a tailored Curriculum Vitae. However, with a little prior research, writing an apt and readable application document is not such a black magic at all, and anyone can do it well.

13 common CV mistakes and unnecessary elements

Each position is different, just as each job offer has its own requirements, so it is important to tailor your CV to specific guidelines.

1. Accurate address

For the sake of your safety and that of your data, do not give your exact address – nor is it needed by the recruiter in virtually any case. The city or town itself is enough. If an important issue in the recruitment criteria is availability and distance from the workplace (commuting time), recruiters are aware that when applying for a position, you know the location of the job and will independently assess your availability and whether it is realistic to commute there, for example. Other aspects you can boldly discuss during the interview.

2. Earlier stages of education

If the CV contains information about the studies undertaken or completed, it is not necessary to provide information about the high school completed – it is clear that such a school must have been completed. Likewise with any lower level of education – there is no need to take up space on your CV for basic education.

3. Less relevant work experience

For example, when applying for a position in a specific industry, where you may also already have some experience, you do not need to include all previous positions, casual work, seasonal work, etc. – focus on relevant experience. If you don’t have previous experience, you can include previous casual jobs and try to show what you learned in them to what the new position requires – perhaps working in a group, under time pressure, customer contact? Volunteering and student activities are of course a good addition. The important thing is that, as far as possible, the experience section should show what you are currently focused on. You can always mention during the conversation about the previous work you have done, from which you obviously also learned valuable skills.

4. Not very professional email address

If your private email doesn’t sound very professional – the famous emails set up on the weird domain, emails containing diminutive, “funny” words etc then it’s best to set up a separate email for job search purposes – something simple containing your name will suffice. Such an email is not a huge problem, of course, but a professional email address will always give a better impression.

5. Too much information on interests and hobbies

Very many people deviate entirely from the interests section of their resume. In my opinion, if there is room for it, as much as possible, you can briefly share your interests – why not? This is always a good topic for a short “small talk” before or after the interview. On the plus side, if they are related to something that can be useful in our work, but also not only. However, it is important that this section of interests is not too extensive, let alone longer than the experience.

6. “About me” section

Your “professional summary” or short “about me” section says that you want to develop further in a financial analyst position, even though you now want to do Data Science and Python work – it’s definitely worth tailoring this section and your entire resume to the company and position you are currently applying for. This can be a reason for rejecting your candidacy, because the recruiter does not know if the application was a mistake or if you are actually and why you are planning a career change.

7. False information

It is worth trying to apply for a position, even if you do not meet all the “formal” requirements. Employers are very often flexible if the other skills or previous experience match their needs. Hence, for example, it is always better to give the actual, honest level of, for example, English as B2, rather than the C1 required in the ad – false information can always be verified during the interview and, unfortunately, it leaves a distaste. It may turn out that such a B2 level will be sufficient looking at your overall professional profile and then the recruiter will decide to contact you anyway. By providing only truthful information, you respect your time and that of the recruiter and do not risk an awkward situation during the interview.

8. Level of proficiency in languages and programs

It’s an incredible way to show off your skill level when you’re using graphics, sliders, or percentages. Unfortunately, many resume templates include such a layout – it is best to simply remove these small graphics and try to specify the scale verbally through the terms: basic / intermediate / advanced. We determine foreign language ability by level on the A1-C2 scale. The simpler, the better – if you already specify, then only the levels of hard skills or languages.

9. Typos, grammatical errors

Before sending your resume, it is best to check it several times for typos or errors. It’s also a good idea to show them to other people for “peer review” to avoid sending an application where mistakes have crept in. This is especially important when applying for an advertisement for a job where the mentioned accuracy, as in accounting or administration.

10. Illegibility or mismatched resume template

Resumes should be clear and readable. Even the best written, brilliantly portrayed experience will be a challenge to read if the font is white on a pastel background. When it comes to the template (where Canva is a commonly used program in creating resumes), we usually have many options, in many colors, more or less graphic layout. In the creative industry (designers, computer graphics) a more “lively”, graphic and less standard template can be a plus and catch attention, but there are industries where it is better to stay with a classic, neutral template. This is important because your resume should fit the industry you are applying to (a resume should look different when you apply to a branch of a Swiss bank, and a resume should look different when you apply to a small computer graphics startup, or for a marketing position in the beauty industry), as well as what country or cultural circle you are applying to work in.

11. Photo YES/NO

Currently, it is more of a NO than a YES – the idea here is to apply the idea of inclusiveness, diversity during recruitment and to minimize the occurrence of any discrimination on the basis of gender or age. This is definitely not practiced when applying to international, large companies and more. This has also become standard in countries such as the UK, Ireland and the US.

There are still recruitments for which a photo on the resume is even required – for example. Cabin crew in most airlines. There are still also countries where it is further in 2023 normal practice to place such a photo: France, Spain, Germany, Switzerland. However, you should always analyze what kind of employer it is, what kind of company culture it is.

In conclusion, these days it is much safer to send a resume without a photo.

12 References YES/NO

In Poland and Europe in general, there is no cultural necessity to add a note about references in your resume, so you should not include such information – unless you are asked to provide them, which is rather rare. Keep in mind, however, that for data protection reasons, you should not include the contact information of former supervisors on your resume; a note that references are available upon request will suffice.

13. Marital status

Candidates from some countries still use the outdated option of putting their marital status on their resume. Such information is unnecessary for employers and can lead to discrimination during recruitment. It is definitely worth skipping this information.

Paulina Andreasik

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