How to bewitch employers: Avoid these scary CV mistakes

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Scary CV mistakes could shatter your chances of bewitching your future employer. Your CV is the first thing they will see from you, so it should be well-crafted to do its magic.

First, the basics. Hopefully you’ll already know it’s crucial to tailor your CV to each role you’re applying for. And you'll need to cast away any typos and spelling mistakes. If these basic tips are mysteries to you, check out our earlier blog on helpful CV tips.

And here’s something terrifying: the amount of horror stories we hear about silly things that candidates include is legendary. So when it comes to a killer CV, it’s about leaving out things, too. Don’t scare off potential bosses with these CV nightmares.

Here are the scary CV mistakes you should avoid

1. Eerie email addresses

Confession time: nearly everyone of working age has had a cringeworthy email address,. We set them up when we were (way) younger and kept for emails sent just between friends.

But applying for your dream job from your ‘lazy2020’ ‘sk8rboy4life’ or 'little-monster-lols' email account may not get you on any candidate shortlists. It’s time to ditch that email account and set up something more appropriate.

It’s not wise to email from a current work account, either. Use an appropriate personal email for job hunting, ideally one that’s based on your own name.

2. Frightening fonts and creepy colours

There’s some awesome stuff on your CV that you want to make sure really stands out. Is your finger hovering over a ghoulish novelty font or are you just about to ‘select all text’ to make it an eye-catching purple? Stop!

First, there’s the readability issue. Serif fonts (designed to look a bit like handwriting) are much harder to read. And any kind of colour at all is distracting. There are also important technical reasons you should keep your design simple.

It’s far better to let your words speak for themselves in black ink with a simple sans serif font designed to look crisp, clean and 100% employable.

3. Hair-raising hobbies

When it comes to including interests and hobbies on CVs, recruiters are divided.

If you do decide to list a few things you like doing outside of work, bear in mind how they could make you look.

Listing fitness and team sports can make you look dynamic and active. Volunteering or community-minded hobbies suggest you’re a good person.

But a “passion for gaming”? Possibly a bit lazy (unless you’re going for a career in the actual gaming sector). And “going out drinking with my friends”… enough said.

Any hobbies that could be seen as controversial or offensive can be put straight in the CV bin, too. You know, like maybe killing zombies or hunting vampires.

We’d go so far as to say that even mentioning the football team you support could lose you the job before you’ve even begun (if the hiring manager supports your rival!)

4. Alarming age-related accomplishments

Your mum’s kept a newspaper clipping of the time you captained a winning netball team in primary school, and you’re proud of your necromancy club trophy. But are either things that should go on your CV? No. Adding those would definitely qualify as scary CV mistakes.

Potential bosses want to read about information that’s related to the job they’re trying to fill, and nothing else.

The only time to bring accomplishments you gained as a child or teenager into the recruitment process? If they’re directly relevant to the job you’re going for. (And we'd be surprised if there's an actual necromancy job on offer.) Or, if they could make good interview fodder – as jokey anecdotes or conversation starters at a push. 

5. Beastly buzzwords

You’re a team player? Sure. You’re highly motivated? Of course. You can think outside of the box? Enough already.

Candidate CVs up and down the land are littered with these over-used CV clichés. They don’t mean anything, and just make the reader switch off. Think of them as CV killers, not ingredients for a killer CV.

Here are some more to avoid at your peril:

  • Work well under pressure
  • Go-getter
  • Results-orientated
  • Dynamic
  • Always give 110%
  • Go above and beyond

Instead, aim to fill your CV with examples of your work experience that shows you are these things, instead of relying on generic, useless phrases.

Is your CV a trick or treat?

Our rule of thumb to avoid a nightmarish CV: If in doubt, leave it out.

Focus on the skills, experiences and accomplishments that make you stand out for all the right (and definitely not the wrong) reasons.

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