As both a jobs portal and an employer, we have received a tremendous number of CVs through the years. Some of the most memorable ones are CVs that can provide a cautionary tale for how not to get the job – not those actually chosen as hires.
This list of CV do’s and don’ts has emerged from those unforgettable (and not in a good way) job applications. Before sending out your next job application, take a look at this checklist of common CV mistakes:
1. Don’t use a photo better suited for social media
While including a photo with your CV is the norm in the Czech Republic (note that in other countries like the US, UK it is not) if you’re going to do so, we advise a little discretion in selecting one. Pictures of your hobbies, especially if they include shooting gold-plated hand guns or sporting a full diving suit, or your wedding photo, however handsome, won’t earn you any points.
2. While we’re on the subject, don’t link to social media
When applicable, including links to Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn on your CV can be useful for prospective employers who wish to gain insight into your professional background, especially when you work in the media or related sectors. However, linking to your personal photo stream, complete with pictures of your last sloppy night out, is an easy way to take yourself out of the running.
3. C-1, really? Don’t overestimate your language skills
In a European capital city where language skills are a big selling point for most firms, your fluency in multiple languages can be a big asset and should definitely be declared on your CV. But overinflating your proficiency could put you in an embarrassing spot come interview time when it’s discovered that you can’t “Speak the proper English.”
4. Do send precisely what the ad asks for – including your real name
We often get applications that are missing crucial information, some of it painfully obvious (like your real name—even if you are known in the on-line realm as the Green Goblin, don’t include it on your CV!). Always check that the requested attachments or cover letter are included.
5. Do tailor your CV and cover letter to the job you are applying for
Before dashing off an e-mail job application, make sure the CV you attach isn’t for another company…in another country! Your CV and cover letter should include the correct job title as it appeared in the ad, as well as the correct name of the company where you seek employment.
6. Do respect the boundaries of professional e-mail etiquette
Sending your CV multiple times in a single week or writing impatient follow-up e-mails wondering why you haven’t been contacted for an interview yet shows a lack of professionalism on your part, as do e-mail inquiries about salary before you’ve even sent out your CV.
7. Do put some thought into what you list on your CV as your interests
“Walking, reading, and sport” are incredibly generic interests. Creativity and honesty are better ways to catch a prospective employer’s attention. Then again, when your CV links to the anti-establishment organizations you belong to and the hacking group you founded, especially when you’re applying for a developer’s position, we call TMI!
8. Don’t use elaborate formatting. Or clipart.
Another word to the wise: When using free software to generate a PDF of your CV, double check that said software doesn’t embed text-obscuring watermarks on your file; these will only give your CV a less-than-professional edge.
9. Do proofread as if your life depends on it – the job sure does!
Proofreading your CV is quite obvious advice but doing so is a very important final step that is all too often overlooked by prospective employees. If English isn’t your second language or you aren’t 100 percent certain if your grammar is accurate, ask someone to review your CV before clicking send.
10. Don’t hand deliver your CV
Delivering your CV in person, while certainly an indicator of your genuine enthusiasm, is a rather outdated practice and may not be the best way to make yourself known to a prospective employer who likely asked to receive your CV via e-mail for a good reason.