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Five reasons why CVs end up in the bin

by 1st Contact | Nov 06, 2012
  • If you are serious about landing that dream job – the one you actually enjoy going to day after day – the first step is getting your CV to survive the “NO” pile. No easy feat when you consider that recruiters can end up with hundreds, even thousands of CVs for a single job.


    1. At first glance, it’s just not impressive

      When recruiters go through a pile of CVs, they often make the decision to keep or chuck it within the first 15 seconds of looking at a CV.  Make sure that your CV is inviting and easy-to-read. Follow these tips:

      • Your skills or experience must be easy to find – and highly relevant to the job you’re applying for.
      • Include a short cover letter, stating in a nutshell why you believe you would be suited to the job. Try to keep this objective and stick to the facts, rather than waxing lyrical about what a reliable, hard-working team player you are.
      • Keep the CV to 2 pages or a maximum of 3 pages – but then only if you really do have a mountain of experience and skills that are directly suited to the job.
      • Keep your sentences and paragraphs short and use bullet points where you can, so that when you CV is scanned, it immediately gives the impression that you might very well be the guy or girl for the job.
      • Make sure it has the correct formatting, and that it’s presented in a neat, visually satisfying way.

      2. It’s unprofessional

        Spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, typos and a font like Comic Sans? These have no place on a CV.

        You would be surprised how many CVs are submitted full of horrendous errors; sometimes, even the applicant’s name is spelt wrong. Stick to this advice:

        • Always proofread your CV and give it to someone who has excellent language skills to double-check it for you.
        • Avoid using personal email addresses like – you won’t be taken seriously.
        • Large type, wrapped text, funny fonts and anything else that makes your CV look like a high school project will land it in the bin, as will pictures of you on the beach, and long paragraphs about your childhood, hobbies or interests.
        • Start with you most recent job – nobody wants to wade through every part-time job you did as a student in order to get to the relevant stuff.
        • Make sure you have several contactable references, with accurate company names and contact details.

        3. You don’t appear to be the right person for the job

          CVs that make it through the first 15-second scan then get checked for compatibility with the position. Any candidate who quite obviously doesn’t have the background, skills or experience indicated on the job notice will be disregarded.

          It won’t do you or the recruiter any good if you apply for a position as an IT technician when you’ve spent the last 10 years working as a waiter – not even when you point out that you “like computers”. Aim high, by all means, but don’t apply for a job that will require you to be trained up in order to fulfil it.

          4. It’s full of gaps and job-hopping

            One of the things that turns a recruiter off a CV is evidence that the applicant has held many jobs for short periods of time – rather than longer stints at fewer companies. It’s easy to infer that the candidate gets bored easily, lacks loyalty and staying power, or could have trouble fitting in.

            When you’ve had several gaps in your career, it gives the impression that you have been out of work, or that you’ve had dodgy work experiences that you’d rather omit. Either way, the recruiter will have enough legit CVs to simply cast yours aside without another thought.

            5. Embellishments and lies

            Worse than gaps and indications of job-hopping on a CV, is the evidence that you have tried to cover these up. This immediately disqualifies you as a reliable candidate. If your CV got to the stage of background-checks and it turns out that it’s not exactly accurate, you will have wasted the recruiter’s time. And they won’t forget your name!

            Rather be honest. Ensure that any references on your CV will corroborate what you said. This goes for dates too – many people add a month here or there in order to fill in the gaps.

            If you need help finding a job in the UK, visit our job assistance page to upload your CV and get started.

            We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

            Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you’ll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

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