We're currently hiring here at The Career Break Site, and by jove, we have a lot of CVs to go through. As a person who doesn't really have time for this, zero patience and the attention span of a goldfish, please let me share some of the reasons why you're not getting a job with us - and indeed, why you're not getting any of the jobs you apply for.
1. You have nothing interesting at the top of your CV
OK, so the first few CVs I scrolled down to read the whole thing, but after I got to about the twentieth, I just couldn't be bothered. If there was no personal statement at the top, I was at least expecting some relevant experience, or if not that, some relevant education.
I'm a busy person. If you haven't bothered to catch my attention in the first couple of lines, I'm not going to read on, and I'm certainly not going to hire you.
2. Your personal statement sucks
I'm pleased that a lot of personal statements are actually reasonably thought through. Although they almost all sound pretty much the same - no-one says they are terrible to work with, or that they're lazy, or that their attention to detail is a bag of washing.
The blah ones I can live with - I get that you might not have much experience or you find it difficult. But if it sounds weird, or you've made a mistake, or you're saying what you're looking for instead of what you can bring to our company, then I'm going to put you in the "reject" pile.
3. Your cover letter sucks
I've hardly read any of these because I'm really not interested and very few are tailored to our company, or the job, or just work in general. It's just a generic "I am great, I could bring this quality to your company" without even knowing what company they are applying to.
Yeah, cover letters are hard but a generic one is worse than nothing, frankly. If you're going to send me one, read the job description, then do me the courtesy of showing what you've got that matches our requirements.
4. Your formatting is terrible
Oh dear God, the formatting. I was trained as an editor and out-of-place apostrophes give me a hernia. So many CVs don't just have bad formatting, it's like they were deliberately crafted to hurt my eyes. Why is it so hard to align your paragraphs with your bullet points? Why did you put one job title in bold but not the next one? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?
It's not just stressed, fatigued editors like me you should be worrying about though. Potential employers don't read CVs, they scan them, and if your formatting is all over the place, it makes your CV impossible to scan and frankly, no-one can be bothered.
5. Your CV looks like every other CV
Yawn, yawn, yawn. Times New Roman 12-point, name top left (or centre if you're really spoiling me), plain black type on a white background, personal statement, job in bold, bullet points, blah blah...
You've seen one, you've seen them all. As I'm clicking through all the identikit CVs, I will stop if one is formatted differently and - gasp - has some colour on it! I've been thrilled to see a CV that's a bit different - it shows consideration for my eyes as well as creativity, and all the people who've submitted a CV like that have been offered an interview.
6. You've made spelling or grammatical errors
Seriously, it takes a few minutes to look over your CV. It takes another few minutes to ask someone else to look over it for you. So why haven't you done it? Why have you made spelling mistakes when there's a spellchecker right there on your computer?
Before you ask, yes I do give the foreigners a break. If someone has a foreign name we're not quite as harsh, although we would still hope they would have it checked by someone who is a bit more fluent than them. We wouldn't really care if the job description didn't include "good communication skills". But it does.
7. Your application is totally generic
We can tell if you're just sending out the same CV and cover letter to every job on the site. Because most of you do it. I get it, you have a lot to apply for and you probably can't be arsed writing a whole new cover letter for each one, or even tweaking your CV.
But let me tell you, we can't be arsed reading them if you're just sending us the same generic stuff you send everyone. We know you don't really want a job with us, you just want to earn some money for your - [looks at guide to being down with the kids] - Fortnite and avocado smoothies. That's fine, but don't expect us to give it to you.
8. You don't include links to any of the stuff you've done
This is a royal pain in the arse for us. We want to see what you've done - you tell us you've done some social media stuff or you've got your own blog or whatever, but you don't include any links.
How are we supposed to look at you've done if you don't tell us where it is? We're certainly not going to go hunting for it. And even if we tried, we wouldn't know which bits you'd done and which were the work of the intern who started just after you and had the weird sneeze.
9. Your links aren't clickable
When you do us the courtesy of including a link to your blog or your Instagram or whatever, why in God's name don't you make it clickable? It's not that hard and it would save a great deal of time.
On the job sites, we can't always copy stuff from your CV and we're certainly not going to remember a website like britneysamazingblogitsreallygreat.wordpress.com so we're not even going to try. We are actually interested in what you've done and you're actively making it difficult for us to see.
10. You forgot about LinkedIn
Some of you include a link to your LinkedIn profile. But, as above, it's not clickable. Some of you don't. Some of you have different information on LinkedIn from that on your CV - which is a massive red flag. Because we'll assume you're lying on one or the other (or both).
As our friends who know more about this stuff than we do, if you're not on LinkedIn you might as well not bother. We're all small and personal, but big corporations don't do things the old-fashioned way any more, they just send robots to crawl LinkedIn profiles and if yours doesn't have the right keywords on it, you won't get found.
11. All you talk about is money
We want you to be passionate about working with us, the stuff you can do, the people you can talk to - not us, obviously, we're all awful, but our partners and clients are lovely. And then all you want to go on about is how much you're getting paid.
Listen, money is important, but the time to discuss it is NOT before you've got an interview. It's after. Talking about what you're going to get is off-putting for two reasons: one, it makes you sound like that's all that you care about (and it might be, but you can at least feign interest in doing some work) and two, it makes you look like you don't know what you're doing. Which is probably true.
12. Your attention to detail sucks
We all make mistakes and we make more than most so we try to be forgiving when our applicants do the same. But please, don't claim you have excellent attention to detail when it's clearly not true.
It's annoying and it makes it obvious that you're lying or delusional - which means we don't know which other bits of your CV to trust either. Either make sure you don't have any mistakes AND read the job ad properly, or just get rid of that bit on your CV. Not all jobs require attention to detail you know, you could always be a politician.
13. You don't make the most of your skills or talents
This is a massive bugbear for me. I used to do CV work and someone would drop in as part of a conversation that they'd done all these amazing projects - but they weren't even on their CV! Or they'd changed something at work which brought massive benefits, but not stated that.
We are a travel company, obviously international, and lots of our applicants have links to other countries or second languages which would be a great benefit in our jobs - and doubtlessly in others too. But do they make the most of them? No, they just trot out the same generic stuff in their personal statement and drop in the fact they speak 3 languages and have a thorough understanding of foreign cultures at the end.
Listen, we want to hear the best about you. Why don't you tell us what that is?
If you don't suck and you want to work for us, drop us an email.