Things to avoid when filling out your CV

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

By Suzanne Harrington

Bored of advice on how to find your dream job? Suzanne Harrington casts an arched eyebrow over some of the world’s most rubbish cvs.



Although we all live in a corporatocracy with zero hours security written into our zero hour contracts, the well-presented CV remains stubbornly relevant

In 1482, a 30-year-old Leonardo da Vinci sent one to the Duke of Milan, outlining his pre-Mona Lisa skills as a weapons maker. Covered chariots, portable bridges, catapults, mortars “most convenient and easy to carry” –instead of recounting past achievements in this prototype CV, Leonardo instead chose to list what he could do for this particular employer, in this instance a warring aristocrat.

Back to the future, and this model remains as relevant as it did 500 years ago. But not everyone gets it right, hence the How To Write A Perfect CV market, producing horrifically dull books about personal statements and skill sets and such. Far more fun is Jenny Crompton’s book of Crap CVs, which shares all kinds of application car crashes from the human resources frontline.

From the informal (“Hire me, I have great hair”) to the improbable (“I am superior to anyone else you could hire”) to the illegible (“This is my CV I am interested in any job opening use have available if u could please send vercation that you received the email”), crap CVs are many and varied. All are genuine.

Usually, people start with a covering letter. Arrogance, while honest, can be off-putting. “Hi there, I won’t pretend that your company’s mission is my passion….I’ll show up 99% of the time, which let’s face it, puts me ahead of most other applicants….You’ll notice I haven’t talked about what skills I have yet. Do I honestly need to? I went to an elite institution and we all know I’ll figure out how to use whatever programmes [you use]. Working at your company isn’t rocket science. Get back to me if you’re looking for someone you’ll actually enjoy working with.”

Even without arrogance, honesty is not always advisable: “I am writing not because I am desperate to work for an esteemed corporation such as yours, but because I’m just desperate. Period. For the sake of my sanity, please hire me.” And sometimes brevity is not that great either: “I kick ass. See resume for proof.”

You know when job applications ask about your objectives? Here are some real answers: “To have my skills and ethics challenged on a daily basis”; “To broaden my computer skills and decrease my use of antacids”; “To make banana bread and share it with my co-workers”; “To make dough”. One applicant wanted to be a “profreader”, while another’s target position was “missionary”. And one wrote, “My plan is to become Overlord of the Galaxy,” while another “would like to get a puppy.”

Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the CV is the personal bit. This is where you tell your prospective employer about yourself. Just not too much. “Marital status: Single. Unmarried. Uninvolved. Nada.” “Strengths: Really good at Lego. Weaknesses: Bullets”. Age: “63 (but fit as a 49-year-old cripple)”.

Oh dear. Perhaps we should move on to Personal Attributes – after all, this is what the CV is all about, right? Again, too much information can be off-putting for employers, so tread carefully. “Responsibility makes me nervous”; “I have guts, drive, ambition and heart, which is probably more than a lot of the drones you have working for you”; “I am on my third incarnation at present.” Other applicants profess to preferring “a fast-paste environment”, are “quick to lean” and “meticulate about derails”, with one admitting that “my ruthlessness terrorises the competition and can sometimes offend.”

Never mind. Perhaps previous experience will land the job, although it’s worth remembering relevance is key. “Hymen checker on Australian sheep farm” or “Four seasons as rump end of pantomime cow” might not get you that banking position, and “Dungeon Master” may not quite cut it for managerial experience.

Just don’t reveal too much: “I am very experienced in all modern databases and online security systems (my boyfriend is a hacker)”. Or too little: “I possess a number of secret skills that will blow your mind.” And don’t be afraid to big up small jobs. Worked in a coffee shop? “Made and sold addictive substances to minors and adults; translated confusing customer orders not concrete company jargon; distributed free doughnuts.”

To complete your CV, don’t forget to include your hobbies. “Gossipping”; “Drugs and girls”; “Cooking dogs and interesting people”. Obviously your potential boss will want to know your reason for leaving your last job. “Having to arrive at a certain hour doesn’t make sense to me”; “Charged with inciting religious hatred”; “It sucked”.

Article courtesy of the Irish Examiner