We get to the truth of perfecting your professional CV!
You heard it from your Auntie Vera… Or was it your Uncle Simon? Either way, over the years, you've been given a whole caboodle of CV advice. From how to format your document to what you should include, it seems that everyone has an opinion on how to land a job interview. But can you believe everything you hear? The short answer is no.
Yes, plenty of people are out there propagating common CV myths. Figuring out what advice you should be taking - and what you should ignore - can be tough. We've got you covered. In this guide, we will bust 15 of the main CV myths that you should ignore.
1. Hiring managers spend ages reading CVs
CV myth: Hiring managers will spend hours pouring over each CV in a bid to find the right candidate for the job. So, you don't have to worry about getting straight to the point.
The facts: Recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds looking at each CV that lands on their desk. That means that you don't have long to make the right first impression.
2. Your CV should be two pages or longer
CV myth: Your CV can be as long as it needs to be. The more detailed your document is, the better your chances of success. You can include as many anecdotes as you need.
The facts: As we've already mentioned, recruiters don't have all the time in the world. You should aim to keep your application to no longer than one page - two if you're well established in your career - no more.
3. The CV summary is a history of your life
CV myth: Your CV summary is a rundown of all your professional experience so far.
The facts: This short blurb is more like an elevator pitch. You should only highlight your experiences or achievements that relate directly to the position for which you're applying.
4. The more jobs you include, the better
CV myth: You need to include every single position that you've ever had. Yes, even your first job out of school when you waited tables at Pizza Express.
The facts: This is one of the biggest CV myths! You should include your most recent three positions and simply summarise anything before that. Alternatively, you may only want to include roles that are applicable to the job.
5. You can tell “white lies” on your CV
CV myth: Everybody lies on their CV, you can stretch the truth a bit if it will help you to get your foot in the door. Nobody will find out and you will increase your chances of success.
The facts: Lying on your CV is a big mistake. According to UK law, this move is considered “fraud by false representation” and could carry a 10-year jail sentence.
6. You have to include two references
CV myth: You need to include at least two professional references on your CV.
The facts: Modern employers don't expect you to include references at this stage. Save yourself some space by not including them on your CV at all.
7. You can jump straight into your education
CV myth: The first thing that you should put on your CV is your education. That is the section that matters the most so you should put it front and centre.
The facts: As far as CV myths go, this one is pretty damaging. You need to include your CV summary section and your experience before your education - unless you're fresh out of college.
8. Hobbies can make you seem relatable
CV myth: Including your hobbies on your CV is a quick way to make a recruiter like you.
The facts: Unless your hobbies are directly applicable to your chosen career, they are irrelevant. The space on your CV is valuable - don't waste it with this section.
9. You should only include hard skills
CV myth: Your CV should only include technical talents (i.e. hard skills). Including soft skills is a waste of space and won't add anything to your application.
The facts: Hiring managers are looking for well-rounded candidates. With that in mind, your CV should include a mixture of both hard and soft skills.
10. You need tons of experience on your CV
CV myth: You shouldn't even bother applying for a role unless you have years of experience on your CV. Hiring managers won't take your application seriously.
The facts: Everyone has to start somewhere. If you are just starting your career or changing industries, you may not have a ton of experience. Bolster your professional CV with voluntary work, extracurricular activities, or training that suits the position.
11. It's not about grammar - it's about content
CV myth: You can get away with awful grammar and spelling as long as your experience is excellent.
The facts: Recruiters receive a ton of applications and they have to whittle things down. A poorly-written CV will lose out to a well-written one, if you have comparable experience.
12. You need to include all of your personal details
CV myth: Your CV should include your name, address, and National Insurance number.
The facts: You don't need to give all of your personal details away when applying for jobs. You should only include your name, location (e.g. city), and contact details as standard.
13. You can use a “one size fits all” approach
CV myth: You only need one, stellar version of your CV. You can use the same document to apply to any role that pops up!
The facts: For the best chance of getting hired, you need to do your research. You should tailor your CV to the job and company to which you are applying.
14. You have to fill every gap in your career
CV myth: If you have taken a career break or been unemployed, you can use your CV to explain that gap.
The truth: You don't need to fill in the blanks. Simply highlight your relevant experiences. You can explain any gaps in your work history when you write your cover letter.
15. The design doesn't matter
CV myth: The appearance of your CV is not important. As long as you have the right experience, a hiring manager will want to interview you.
The facts: You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Having a well-designed CV will give you a competitive edge when applying for jobs.
Perfecting your CV doesn't have to be hard, but believing some of these CV myths won't do you any favours. Now that you know the best way to create an epic application, nothing can hold you back. Quit believing these CV myths and start succeeding in your career!
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