Worst-ever contractor CVs: what they say, show!

They tell us that “feedback is a gift”, which is usually the case, but nevertheless, it can sometimes pinch.

Requesting feedback on your CV is obviously a good idea, but some contractors need broad shoulders, especially if you’ve made similar faux pas to those outlined below!

Here, exclusively for ContractorUK and ahead of my free webinar for its readers on June 27th,  I want to share some real-life feedback on contractor CVs, writes Matt Craven, managing director of The CV & Interview Advisors.

Some of it’s amusing, some scathing. But all of it is constructive too, because it means you can avoid making the same howlers.

Why are we revealing these? Well, we review hundreds of CVs (which as a ContractorUK reader, you can take advantage of here) – we literally see the good, the bad and the ugly. And you can submit your CV to us now to discover on Thursday which of these three categories it falls into.

Let’s start with the CV feedback which I’ve gathered just now, from a contact of mine, specifically for this article. ‘Paddy,’ who is a director of a well-known, high-end recruitment business, is a CV reviewer in all but name -- because he sees so so many CVs. He gave me his four pet hates as follows:

1. Generic-Sounding Personal Profiles

“They are commonplace and sound contrived. The most notorious: ‘I can work individually as well as in a team.’ Really? Astonishing. Please; do me a favour!”

He’s right to take offence at these. Such statements are often known as ‘So What? Statements,’ as they have little positive impact. Frankly, I would expect most people beyond the age of three to be able to function in a team. Oh and not many people suffer from monophobia! So working on one’s own shouldn’t be much of a problem either.

Back to Paddy:

2. CVs Lacking Detail

“They just look lazy and careless. I like to know exactly what someone has done and how well they have done it. Just a few bullet points doesn’t cut it! On the flip side though – and to paraphrase Tom Petty – ‘don’t bore us, get to the chorus!’”

Again, he’s onto something here. Paddy echoes a growing trend of recruitment decision-makers wanting more information and not less. This is backed up by the fact that 85% of hirers check out shortlisted candidates on LinkedIn i.e. they want more information, not less.

Meanwhile, number three from Paddy:

3. Talking Up, Not Holding Back The Years

No one is wowed by yonks and yonks of experience doing the same thing. It’s common to see that someone has ‘over 25 years doing x or y,’ but does it really matter? Probably much less than the writer of the statement hopes.”

His point here is a strong one. It really does not take 25 years to become good at something! This almost renders any reference to ‘time served’ as counterproductive. It also screams ‘I’m of a certain age,’ which as much as it shouldn’t, can and will promote ageism.

4. Font-Header-Border Overload  

“Inconsistencies in presentation are annoying. They make CVs laborious to read”.

Another powerful Paddy pointer! Structuring a CV can be a fiddly affair, especially when you have a mountain of contracts under your belt, and potentially permanent job experience too. But sloppy, inconsistent formatting will have an impact on your success rate, especially if you work in a detail-orientated profession such as Software Development or Finance.

Paddy  was only outdone after our conversation yesterday when I mentioned some of his pointers to our Head CV Reviewer, Alistair. His one horror story puts Paddy’s in the shade!

5. Slipping Into Something More Comfortable

“The worst thing I have ever seen on a CV is a full body shot photo -- A4 sized -- of the female candidate wearing a full night dress regalia, as the actual front page of her CV! I still don’t know how I managed stay on my chair!”

If that job-hopeful using visuals doesn’t seem to be suffering from a lack of confidence, then the following must be the male equivalent -- in writing. It’s definitely one of my favourite CV howlers ever:  

6. ‘I Am The One & Only (Nobody You’d Rather Hire)’

“Turning to the top of page one, the CV shows an opening statement, declaring: 'The wait is over – I am here!'”

Priceless! And in this case -- clearly likely to be jobless.

Through Contractor UK, I will be hosting a webinar on Thursday June 27th where my team and I will be live critiquing some CVs. You can register here and also submit your anonymised CV for potential inclusion in the webinar by sending it to info@cvandinterviewadvisors.co.uk referencing ‘Contractor UK Webinar.’

Thursday 20th Jun 2019
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Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Linked-In-Credible. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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