Getting your CV right is crucial in making it through the first round of a job application. But some things on your CV can do more harm than good. Let’s look at what NOT to include on your résumé.
Years ago date of birth was a standard on CVs – but now it’s advised not to include it. There’s a chance it could cause age discrimination. You should be assessed on your skills and experience rather than irrelevant personal characteristics.
Whether or not you are married has no relevance to whether you’re suited to a job. Likewise, avoid stating whether you have children – that could cause unconscious bias from the recruiter looking at your CV.
Employers are mostly interested in the most recent jobs you’ve held. Listing more than 10-15 years’ experience will take up valuable space and potentially dilute the impact of your skills. It could also potentially lead to subconscious age biases.
It’s not standard practice to include a photo on a CV as again it could lead to discrimination – both positive and negative. How you look should not have an effect on whether you can do the job.
While it can be a good idea to include a personal statement at the top of your CV, make sure it’s informative and factual. Instead of hackneyed phrases like ‘extensive experience,’ use a specific number of years. Replace ‘proven track record’ with examples of actual achievements, for example ‘increased sales by 300%’. Recruiters can spot waffle at a glance and will look instead for facts and evidence.
Proof read your CV diligently, and ideally get someone else to check it for you. A typo or error can be the difference between getting an interview and being rejected, especially where attention to detail is a key part of the job you’re going for.
Checking references is a crucial part of the recruitment process, but it’s done much later on, once you have been offered a position. So there’s little point in including references at the application stage. You can state ‘References available on request’ – but don’t include names or contact information. You will be asked for those details at a later point.
If you’re looking for a part time role or flexible position you might be tempted to state that on your CV. Again, this is not recommended. The aim at this point is to demonstrate your suitability for the role. It’s much better to get an interview and discuss potential flexibility options than potentially rule yourself out at the first stage.
Every organisation has its own internal jargon and even when some terminology is fairly well recognised – such as SLT for ‘Senior Leadership Team’ – using abbreviations and technical language makes your CV harder to read. Unless the job description specifically requires you to talk about technical insights and qualifications, try to keep the text simple and engaging.
The email address you give should just include your name and the domain. A nickname or lighthearted ID can put employers off. Set up a new email address for job applications if needed.
With a job application you only have one chance to make a good impression, so it’s really important to make sure that your CV is as professional and informative as possible. For more CV tips see our career advice section.