CV myths – Fact vs Fiction
Whenever I put together a CV for a client, I get ready to be asked a variety of questions. I love it when people ask questions as it means they’re invested in the process, they care, and it allows me to have a two-way dialogue with clients. All good.
Invariably in these discussions there’s always mention of at least one of the CV myths that surround my industry, so here I have given my take on some of the most common ones I’m asked.
Myth 1 – Your CV should be no longer than two pages
This depends on how much experience you have. When thinking about the length of your CV, consider how relevant the information is – if you have a lot of experience you probably don’t need to list every job, but be careful not to cut out things that may put you ahead of your competitors. You can reduce the length of your CV in various ways (synopsise your early career, reduce the font size, shorten your opening statement if possible) but don’t get too hung up on it being three pages instead of two. Having a CV that’s three pages long won’t stop someone from interviewing you providing you have relevant, appropriate experience.
Myth 2 – No one is interested in my interests and hobbies
Some line managers won’t care whether you are a black belt in karate, that’s true. Some, however, will. I advise clients to put in a line about hobbies and interests for two reasons:
- Some interviewers like to discuss hobbies at the end to close an interview nicely and find out what makes you tick.
- You may have something in common with someone on the panel (even the decision maker) and people like to recruit in their own image. Having something in common with your potential boss is no bad thing!
Don’t write a paragraph on how much you love to follow Mary Berry’s recipes; simply one or two lines highlighting a few hobbies is more than enough.
Myth 3 - Everyone lies on their CV
If you take nothing else from this post, remember this: your CV is not the place to lie. You will get found out and it won’t end well. At best, you’ll just be rejected at interview…at worst you’ll be fired. Tell the truth and apply for roles that are suitable for you and that don’t need you to pretend to be something you’re not. True story – a friend of mine had written on her CV that her favourite book was Great Expectations. She’d never read it; she just thought it made her sound intelligent. The interviewer was a huge Dickens fan and started chatting away to her about a book she’d never read. Needless to say, she felt and looked incredibly stupid.
Myth 4 – You shouldn’t mention having kids on your CV
If you have children, you need to work somewhere that is accommodating. You may never need a day off to look after your kids, but most parents would say there’s always the odd occasion where you need to juggle your priorities. You need to work somewhere that’s understanding and accepting of this. I’m not saying your CV should be littered with references to your children and family life, but there’s nothing wrong with saying in your hobbies that you like spending time with your kids.
Myth 5 – Making my CV fancy/a different colour etc. will make people notice me and want to meet me!
NO. Just no. Please for the love of all things holy do your CV on white paper, black or grey font with readable, plain text. Every time I open a CV and it’s blue, pink, yellow, sometimes I can’t even read it. This isn’t necessary. No gimmicks or themes are needed on your CV; your experience will speak for itself. Save your design prowess for another time. You are not bettering your chances of getting an interview by blinding the person having to sift through the CVs.