It isn’t always easy finding a career that fits like a glove, but the pressure to do so is great for many of us. We are aware that our career comprises a significant part of our identity, and to a certain extent, our happiness at work impacts our happiness at home. We want to find a career that means something, that inspires and motivates us, and matches our personality type.
Finding such a job can be difficult, and once you have answered all the right questions and set your sights on your dream industry, you don’t want to let any opportunity slip through your fingers. You don’t want to diminish your chances by crafting a lackluster CV and you don’t want to be laughed out of an interview. You want to impress, you want to stand out, and you want to land that job.
The problem is, we’re not mind readers. We aren’t recruiters and we don’t know what they want. What do they want to see? What do they hate? I reached out to a number of experienced, enthusiastic recruiters, hiring managers and CEOs, all of whom are eager to share their pet peeves, bugbears, and frustrations when it comes to CVs and interviews. With any luck, you can avoid the following pitfalls.
Don’t waste space on your CV
CVs need to be succinct, informative, and well-presented. They need to get across as much information as possible in a small amount of space, so don’t waste it. This is something one of our experts, Rachel Carrell, CEO of Koru Kids, points out:
“The biggest issue I have is when I see people discussing the intricacies of the role they performed, rather than what they achieved in the role. As employers, we don’t just care about what your job is. We care about whether you did that job well. We’re not going to know unless you tell us. For example, if you have a job where your duties are to refill staplers, don’t waste time discussing this. Instead, tell me that you filled forty staplers in one hour, which remains the company record. Always emphasize the achievement. You can do that with any job, from CEO to stapler-filler.”
It’s not just what you say — it’s also how you say it
Mark Hughes, co-founder of Tutora Ltd, points out the importance of confidence during an interview. There is a reason confident candidates are more successful at interview. They are effectively looking the recruiter in the eye and telling them: ‘I’m the right person for this role. I’m capable of performing this job well. I am a good fit for this position’. When you are sure of yourself, it is easy for the recruiter to believe in you, too. Unfortunately, certain linguistic quirks can trip us up and turn the interviewer off:
“We’re currently recruiting for a few positions, and we found a promising candidate. We called one to discuss inviting them to interview. I quickly discovered they had a terrible habit of ending every sentence with an upward inflection. Everything they said sounded like a question and it gave the impression they were lacking in confidence. Not great for someone who would have to give advice to students and tutors every day!”
Don’t make a recruiter’s life difficult with an awkward filename
You might know how to write a CV that will wow your interviewers. You might have all the required skills and experience. You might be the perfect match. But if you label your CV something obscure and unhelpful, it will likely get lost in the hundreds of CVs already submitted for that particular position. This is a habit that gets under the skin of Luke Nicholson, Head of digital PR for Exposure Ninja:
“When you send in your CV, try to make the filename really obvious. This is something your interviewer will really thank you for. Try something like ‘John Doe_CV_Name of Position at Name of Company’. If you do what so many others do and simply name your CV ‘My CV’ or ‘My Updated CV’, your file might get confused with dozens of others.”
Don’t forget to do your research
An interview is important for you and the recruiter. This is costing them a lot of time and money, and they want to make sure they hire someone enthusiastic and dedicated to the role in question. For this reason, it is essential that you research the company and the industry prior to the interview. Don’t rely on your dazzling personality to carry you. Show your recruiter you’ve done more than buy an expensive suit for the interview. This is something Inigo Antolin, Head of Marketing for Blossoming Gifts, points out:
“One of the unattractive attitudes that anyone can show during a job interview is a lack of interest in what is happening in the sector they are applying to be a part of. I work in eCommerce, an industry that it is constantly evolving. I always ask candidates to discuss the latest trend they have uncovered, or to cover a recent article that really made an impression. Any marketer should be able to answer these questions easily, Those who stare at me blankly might just as well say ‘sorry. I don’t really care about this opportunity’.”
Don’t be too flashy or outlandish with your CV
We all want to stand out, and none of us want to put our recruiters to sleep with a boring CV. However, all too often, candidates go the other way and go to extremes. This can be just as damaging and although it might certainly make your CV stand out, it may well do so in the wrong way. Paz Tafrishi, managing director of Recruit Gold Class, points out:
“The worst thing you can do is have overly complicated CVs! We’ve seen it all. Loads of tables, different colored fonts for no particular reason, varying font sizes, and random bold or capitalized letters. This is interspersed with large chunks of white space. The overall effect is simply messy and unattractive. When in doubt, go simple and professional.”
Don’t give the appearance of being a flight risk
This is something you need to keep in mind during your entire career; short stints in a number of jobs over a small time period will hardly make recruiters look at you favorably. Although it is becoming more and more common, hiring managers are displeased by job hopping, as it demonstrates a pattern and shows you’re probably a flight risk. Recruiting a new hire costs a lot of money. Companies want to make sure they get the right candidate and they can’t afford to take risks. This is something Kevin Ronson, CFO of Voices.com, points out:
“For me, the biggest red flag in a CV is job-hopping. If I see a person has had several short-term jobs in a row, it gets concerning. If I see that someone goes from job to job — whether it was their decision to leave or they were let go — then it is likely they will not spend a significant amount of time at my company. So I do not hire them. I throw out their CV and move onto the next applicant.”
An important lesson to learn from the experts above is that they are hoping you’re a good fit as much as you are. They want to like you, they want to connect with you, and they want to be impressed. As long as you do your research and go the extra mile to make their lives easier, you’ll be that much closer to securing the job you’ve applied for.