5 things an employer hates to see on a CV

Women reviewing CVs

A professionally written CV that caters to the employer’s needs is a recipe for success.

To stand the best chance of getting an interview you need to take note of what the company requests and avoid using your application as an opportunity to present your entire career history.

A job seeker is rejected for many different reasons, but there are some more common examples that you can avoid. Here are 5 things an employer hates to see on a CV.

1. Job hopping

The most desirable career history will show a focused progression relating to the same or similar industry. If the hiring manager can see how you’ve climbed up the ranks and stayed true to your path, they are going to be reassured that you will continue along that same path to success with them.

What an employer doesn’t want to see is someone who has hopped from one job to the next within the space of a few months and doesn’t seem to commit. This is a big unknown and raises all sorts of red flags and potential issues. The employer will ask the obvious question – how long will they stay with us?

Always strive to create a focused career path before you set out on your journey. Certainly things will change as the years roll on and your original idea may have changed completely, but without committing to a career you are going to hop around too much and damage your CV permanently.

If however you have already fell into this trap, you can still dig your way out of it. Explain on a cover letter about your commitment and try to reassure the employer that you have now found your calling. Here are The Most Common Reason for Job Hopping – and 3 Steps to Stop It!

2. Employment gaps

Not every employer regards an employment gap as an issue, but you can’t take any chances – they have to be plugged. If you don’t provide an explanation for your time away from employment, especially if it was for months or even years, then the employer will jump to all sorts of negative conclusions, like:

  • Where you in prison?
  • Are you lazy?
  • Are you terrible at interviews?
  • Is there something we are missing here?
  • Are you un-hirable?

Assuming that you do not fall into any of the above examples, then it could be one of these more acceptable reasons:

  • Gap year
  • Personal health reasons
  • Caring for family member
  • Pursuing further education
  • Raising a family
  • Self employed
  • Trying to start a new business

The ultimate conclusion you have to make when writing a CV is that you have to show a seamless timeline, even if that means inserting something into your work history to explain a gap. You can also consider giving an explanation within your cover letter, which can sometimes be easier as you are free to write what you like without the constraints of a CV format.

Always be honest and open with an employer right from the start, as this will always be appreciated. If you lie about your gap and the employer catches you out during an interview or even once you’re hired, it could be the end of your very short lived career.

If you want to know what an employer really thinks about your employment gap, here’s Ten Questions Employers Have About Your Employment Gap.

3. Spelling mistakes

This tip is the most common reason for an applicant to be rejected – and for obvious reasons. With so much technology at our disposal it should be very easy to avoid a spelling or grammatical error, which is why it’s frowned upon even more nowadays.

You just can’t let something as small as this ruin your chances of getting an interview, especially if you are highly qualified and more than capable of doing the job. The employer will struggle to take a chance on someone who could be prone to making further mistakes. Maybe you don’t care enough to send a flawless application? Maybe you don’t have the passion and drive to succeed?

Ask a friend to double check over every aspect of your CV, including a cover letter if you’ve written one. Two pairs of eyes are always better than one, and the tiniest of mistakes can be made very easily when under pressure to produce a high quality CV.

4. Bold colours

A common misconception about CV writing is that black and white is a must and that using colour is a complete no-no. This just isn’t true, and the use of colour can create a unique and highly memorable application. But there is just one thing you must consider when looking to brighten up your application with colour.

Bold colours are very dangerous to use on a CV because they can come across aggressive and intrusive on the page. Red is a great example of a colour you should avoid as it will detract the reader from your credentials and create a ‘I can’t stop thinking about this design’ scenario.

The reaction you are looking for when using colour on a CV is ‘this looks great and unique’ as opposed to ‘what were they thinking?’ So if you really do want to add some colour then go for a more subtle approach with a light green or blue. This will help create a memorable application for having both a great look and a great list of credentials.

Should you use colour on your resume? Recruiters say it’s not black and white

5. No relevance

Last, but by no means least, on our list is the topic of relevance. How relevant is your CV to the role, to the company, and to the industry? If you are really confident that your application is, then check again. This is the most important aspect to consider when writing a CV, and if you can get this part right you stand a great chance of getting an interview.

Think about it from the employer’s perspective for a second. Do they want to have to figure out if you’re suitable for the role by reading your entire career history, or would they prefer you to condense it down to only the relevant parts? The obvious answer is the latter one, and it makes the hiring manager’s job so much easier.

Every time you apply for a new role you should start again from scratch and write a brand new CV. It may seem like a waste of time when you can use what you already have, but this isn’t enough effort to secure an interview. The hiring manager is well accustomed to seeing lots of generically written applications, and can easily spot a tailored one from a mile away.

Those that take the time to write a tailored CV are usually the winners. They recognise what is important to the employer and what isn’t – it’s as simple as that. So look closely at the job advert and the requested skills and attributes, and also research the company in-depth through social media sites and their own company website. Look at accounts, trends in the market, the latest fashions, what the media are saying, and what the customers are saying. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Have they recently launched a new product?
  • What are their plans for the future?
  • What advertising campaign is running at the moment?
  • What ideas do you have for the company? (also helpful for an interview)

The more you find out about a company the better chance you have of writing a tailored CV that addresses most or all of their needs. The more relevant your CV is the greater chance you have of getting an interview. Here’s how to tailor your CV for interview success.

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