The Top 10 Things Holding Back Your CV

For an internship or grad job, your CV ideally should fit on one single side of A4. Generally, this information is met with disbelief.

“What?! I’ve done way more things than that! How am I meant to make it fit?”

Believe it or not, this is possible! Whilst online templates give some structure to your CV, often, they include information which is unnecessary or irrelevant to your application. Save yourself space and give yourself the best chance to show off your talents by checking out these 10 simple space-saving steps:

cv post

TOP 10 UNNECESSARY CV ELEMENTS

The Basics:

  • Address: Nowadays, companies will usually contact you by phone or email. If they need your address as part of the recruitment process, they will ask for it at another stage in the application. Furthermore, as students, our addresses change all the time so if you’d rather save the space, removing the address is fine.
  • Gender/Age/Marital Status: This shouldn’t have any effect on whether an employer should consider you. (Simple!) If they need this information, it will usually come up at a different stage of recruitment, and even then, it is usually optional to declare and just used for diversity hiring purposes.

Education:

  • Outdated educational history: Companies generally care about education in the context of qualifications – so usually from GCSE (or equivalent) on. Educational history such as primary schools don’t need to be included. I say it because I’ve seen it!
  • All your module titles/grades: Generally speaking, recruiters want to see your degree title and predicted result (1st, 2:1, 2:2 etc). Including all your individual module titles/grades takes up a lot of space, is often irrelevant and can also take away from the clarity of your CV.
    • However, sometimes it can be useful to include individual module scores. This might be, for example, if there are modules that you excelled in, that show certain skills (eg a module on coding) or that are particularly relevant to the position that you are applying for.

Experience:

  • Outdated experience: Generally speaking, at this application stage, recruiters care about what you’ve been doing over the last 4-5 years and how it’s led to your development. Talking about being a Prefect when you were 11 years old takes up space on your CV that you could be using to talk about your more recent interests. This can be difficult, as every achievement was important at the time, but you have to be selective in what you put on your CV. Remember: a CV should not try to be a summary of your entire life to date!
    • However, if it was really impressive, or you were really proud of it, you can still include it! For example, many of my friends have impressive sporting achievements at National level in their respective sports at a fairly young age. Sometimes including these achievements can be useful in demonstrating a long-term dedication to a particular cause or sport, such as years of volunteering or sportsmanship.
  • Listing positions with no context: Another bad CV habit is listing a huge number of past positions with no explanation of what the role entailed or the skills that you developed. Use the space that you have saved to add extra information about your experience! Including specific statistics and examples in your role descriptions will help you to stand out.

Extras:

  • Really old awards: Again, this goes back to being selective. Start with your most recent, interesting awards and achievements and work backwards. It is more important to include your recent achievements as they demonstrate your most relevant interests and strengths. Taking up space with old achievements can take away from highlighting the present!
  • Unprofessional links: Social media links such as Facebook and Instagram shouldn’t be on your CV. Also, whilst they should not be listed on your CV, be aware that lots of recruiting organisations will search you online – so be sure that your profiles and security are up to scratch!
  • LinkedIn skills: Some templates include “my top LinkedIn skills” as part of the CV. This doesn’t really add anything, as it just lists skills without any context of when and how you’ve developed these skills. If you have a great LinkedIn that you’d like to share, a better way of doing this is adding a shortened URL link to your profile under your basic information.
  • Elements just because the template said so: Online templates are a great resource to get you started in building your CV, however, remember that you can always adapt them to suit you! As long as you have your key information on there, do not feel obliged to write random sections just because the format said to (eg. skills lists, vague charity/sports work if you have no experience in this).

Optional:

  • Photographs: Just a note on profile photos. This is by no means an absolute ‘no’, but be aware that it is optional. Your inclusion/exclusion of a headshot should have absolutely no effect on your chances of getting the position. If organisations require this, they will ask for it. If you do decide to include a photo, make sure that it is a well-lit, smart and high-quality image.

Now you know what not to include, have fun streamlining your CV! Change things and change again – keep revising it until you’re happy. There are also lots of great resources online that you can use here (careers websites, forums and YouTube are your friend).

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