CV DO's & CV DON'Ts | FusionHub Recruitment | Putting the 'Human' back into Recruitment!

Some CV DO's & Some CV DON'Ts

Posted 1/4/2019 by James Selway
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Let's be 100% honest, the world of CV writing is a minefield of different opinions. Some are valid, some not so, and some advice is thrown out there to make you more confused, so you feel you need to pay someone to do it for you. 

You don't have to pay someone to do it for you FYI! 

But if you do, make sure you ask for some example copies first! Good ones should have mock up templates!

I 100% get why you can over analyse your resume, it's layout, the writing style, what to put in, what not to put in etc etc etc. The worst part I found as a job seeker is that you just didn't know what if anything you were doing wrong with your CV.

Why? Because nobody would ever give you any feedback! Catch 22. The only way to get feedback is to be called by a recruiter or hiring manager.

If your CV isn't doing it for them, they won't get in contact, thus, no feedback. 

Let's try and change this. Now I am writing this as once a job seeker, once a career changer, and now as a recruiter. So, I like to come at this from all these angles.

I remember what it was like, frustrating and soul destroying at times. But, don't give up, you will get there, I am 100% sure of that!  


Let’s examine some of the Do’s and Don’ts of crafting your CV



10 x CV Don'ts 

CV Don'ts, Resume Don'ts, What not to put on your CV, Resume,

  1. Boxes and borders: This can make your CV look too busy and believe me a CV that flows is a lot easier to read. Keep it clean, concise and simple.

    I know this goes against the grain as a CV is created to market your skills, experience, personality etc., so of course the more the better right? Well, no, not always.  

    Resist the temptation. Re-examine, be specific and cut any waffle.


  1. A photo: This is becoming increasingly popular; I dare say with the advent of social media and the need to brand yourself on the market.

    However, a photo opens potentially litigious issues. What can you see from a photo, and what can you deduce? Age? Sex? Ethnicity? Looks? All of which is not a reason to either hire someone or reject their application.

    If you fancy yourself as a looker and think that this is a key part of your employability brand, don’t. TOP TIP: You’re worth more than that!


  1. Use excessive amounts of colour: I know this is subjective based on the industry, and more creative roles require more evidence of creativity and flair, I get it.

    There is nothing wrong with adding colours that are subtle. Just don’t make your CV look like you are sponsored by Skittles.


  1. Create a CV that looks like its Volume I: Now you will probably be aware that the length of a CV should be no more than 2 pages according to sources. Again, I am going to be facetious as I am not sure where this magic number of 2 has come from or where the evidence is for it.

    Personally, I don’t mind if it’s 3 pages or 1 page. I think 2 pages just might be a number passed down through the generations of recruiters. We won’t have this problem when Virtual Reality CV videos are the norm.

    So, don’t worry about this too much. The last 10 years of a career history is fine in my book or the last 5, it depends on the hiring manager if I’m honest. If I need more, I will simply ask for it. No biggie.


  1. Just listing responsibilities & tasks: Now everyone has responsibilities attached to their role. How did you go about these responsibilities and tasks to add value to your team or organisation?

    Think accomplishments. Can you quantify these? If ‘yes’ then do it. What were the outcomes of your efforts, can you evidence tangibility? A good tip is to read your bullet points or sentences, and say, ‘so what?’

    If you have to explain after ‘so what’ then you haven’t explained enough.


  1. Leave gaps: I often see gaps in the CVs without explanation. In the early days, I didn’t really like to ask, as surely most people have gaps, no big deal?

    However, often a client will pick up on any gaps without explanation immediately. So, that’s why we as recruiters ask. If there is a reason why there is a clear gap in employment just be open and honest on your CV, or with the recruiter.

    Having a gap should not be a stigma in the job market in my own opinion. We are all human, stuff happens, some planned, some things not so much.

    So, the message is, be honest, don’t be ashamed, talk to your recruiter if you're using one. Hopefully, you find a recruiter that you can be open and honest with.  


  1. Use excessively long paragraphs: Nobody really likes to read a massive block of text anymore. Think about it, all our information is now fed to us in bite-sized chunks mostly due to the prevalence of social media.

    That’s why video marketing is taking off. It’s easier to watch a video than it is to read. So, break up the content of your CV, leave some white space and use bullet points.

    Short and concise segments win every time. As a History graduate, I actually hate this, as I love a massive book. But, you have to roll with how the world changes, or you get left behind.

    At 39 I sometimes feel like I’m treading popular culture water, ready to sink at any minute. Sink or swim, it’s a choice.


  1. Forget to use the spellcheck: Common sense I hear you cry. Sadly, not so common. (I am going to spellcheck this article and stick it through Grammarly) I tried, but there’s always a grammar snob lurking and we all know one!

    I don’t pretend to be perfect, so there! If you still aren't confident ask a friend to read your CV.


  1. Using a CV/Covering Letter/Personal Profile when applying for a job that has been tailored for a completely unrelated job and sector: I have seen this a few times. Someone applies for a legal assistant job and they apply with a tailored CV/Cover Letter and Personal Profile demonstrating their passion to enter the fitness industry?!

    Double check! There's nothing that screams more of lets apply for every job going, click, click, click, apply, apply, apply. It doesn't fill anyone full of confidence in terms of your sincerity.


  1. TELL PORKY PIES: It’s human nature to embellish on a story I get it! But don’t lie on your CV. You will always get found out in the end. Most EastEnders storylines commence with not telling the truth.

    It always comes back to bite you in the ass! Remember, it all comes out in the referencing procedure, and we do check Linkedin.



6 x CV Do's

CV Dos, Resume Do's, CV Best Practice, Hints, Tips, Advice

  1. Sell yourself: Why should they consider you as their next hire? Think like a marketer, think brand, think PR. What’s in it for the employer? What are they going to get by hiring you? What’s in it for the employer or the team with you onboard?

    We sell ourselves every day at work, to other people etc. Your resume is no different.


  2. Tailor your CV and Cover Letter:  Look at the job description, the company profile, their brand, their tone, what they want and evidence the fact you’re the solution.

    It’s easier creating a CV and clicking apply for a multitude of jobs, hoping the law of averages is on your side. Sometimes luck is on your side, but it’s far more effective and efficient to tailor your application.

    It's a lot more efficient to fish with a perfect small net, than a massive net riddled with holes! Please don’t worry about ATS systems and Keywords. I believe this is a modern myth, a bit like an urban legend.

    There are few companies in the UK that bin applications by using AI keyword software to scan CVs. Your CV may well go straight into a database, but it will be looked at with human eyes.

    It is with me anyway. Whether the human eyes give you any feedback at all, that's a different matter. 


  3. Focus on achievements: This has its place in the above two points. It’s easier to list the tasks you performed in your role I get it. However, shift your focus to what you achieved, quantifying the results.

    If you can evidence what your efforts achieved for your current or past employers, this goes towards an employer having faith you potentially could do the same for them.

    Otherwise, you appear to be a gamble. It could be a calculated gamble on ‘potentially he/she could,” but it’s still a gamble.


  4. Use action verbs! The END

  5. Send a cover letter if asked, or if the adverts say optional: This means they want a cover letter. It could be the difference between the recruiter even reading your CV.

    It’s a task-based exercise, they asked you for something, and see if you can deliver? Also, see a cover letter as an additional space to market yourself.

    Don’t look at it as a hassle, think of all your rivals to this role who thought the same and just didn’t bother! There’s more than you would think!


  6. Embrace new tech: Why have I added this? Well, I see a common theme developing where after you have sent your crafted CV, you may be asked to create a video answering questions.

    I had this happen to me once when I applied for a social media job. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting it and had to learn very quickly.

    So, I would urge you to be mindful this may happen, so it may be wise to learn some basic video editing skills. Don’t worry, there are apps for this and software programs, and trusty YouTube to show you the way. 

    Always good to be prepared as sometimes I feel this is where it's all headed. There will be less emphasis on presenting your skills and experience on paper, and more about how you can talk and present yourself in front of a camera. 


As always, this isn’t an exclusive list of CV tips and do’s and don’ts. Some of this advice is subjective based on the individual person receiving your CV, whether that be a recruiter or a hiring manager directly, or the industry in which you are in or entering. 

What I do love is feedback! Can you think of anything I have missed? Do you disagree with any? If so, why?

Author James Selway Founder of FusionHub Recruitment Agency in Bedfordshire

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FusionHub Recruitment Specialises in Permanent & Fixed Term Contract Recruitment for Companies in Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes and Surrounding Areas. 

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