What makes an employer reject a CV? What are the 4 fastest CV turn-offs?
1. What’s the magic word?
A high percentage of CVs are never even looked at by a human. They are run through an automated system which scores your CV on how many of the job description keywords appear on your CV. It’s a simple word search exercise and if you don’t have the right (magic) words in your CV it will be rejected within 10 seconds. All of the effort you took in describing what you have done in each of your jobs will register as “not relevant” if you don’t examine the employer’s job description and reflect the experience and skills using their language. For this reason using the same CV for every job application is likely to lead to an extremely low interview hit rate.
2. Glance test
Forget the fancy formatting – boxes, shading, borders or, worst of all, indiscriminate use of bold, italics, capitals and underlining all in the same sentence, for EVERY sentence of the entire CV. Your aim is to avoid making the person reviewing your CV instantly dislike you due to a busy layout where the font is so small they are getting a headache just looking at it. It may sound superficial but how many times have you flicked through a book – saw the teeny typography and thought – Nah! You could be the best qualified for the job but if your CV doesn’t pass the glance test you will never get to prove yourself in an interview.
Arial, Times New Roman, Tahoma or Verdana. None will set the world alight with their artistic merit but you are writing a professional document, not a menu for a pizzeria. And we know it’s tempting to reduce the font size to fit your CV to 2 pages but anything less than 11pt may make the reviewer start to dislike you again when they are squinting to make out the words.
3. HOW many pages?
In most cases if you present a CV that is more than 2 pages you will be at an instant disadvantage to other candidates who can summarise themselves on 2 pages of well spaced out text. Use bullet points to summarise what you did for each role you have held. Paragraphs of text will not be read.
Once you go beyond 10 years of career experience you can truncate the descriptions of what you have done in your earlier career. We prepare excellent CVs all the time for people with 25 years career experience, all summarised onto two pages of grippingly readable text – it can be done!
4. Spelling mistakes – fastest way to the bin
CV and Cover letter howlers we see most often include – Reccommended , definatley, Batchelor degree, driving license, alot, asissted, principal/le, complimented, stationary. Who wants to employ a graphic designer who claims that they “design fabulous wedding stationary”? When your CV is competing against 100’s of others, the existence of spelling errors gives potential employers a really easy way to reject yours.