4 Reasons Why Your CV isn't Working

Published on: 14 Dec 2020

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As a job hunter, it can be demoralising to send off scores of applications and receive no responses from recruiters or employers. It seems as though all of your hard work has been a complete waste, and can leave you extremely frustrated.

This is a common problem amongst job hunters of all industries and experience levels, and the root cause is probably your CV. Your CV is the marketing material for your services, and is the only document that a recruiter has to make judgement on you during the early stages of your application.

Your CV needs to be impeccable, and really demonstrate the benefits of hiring you over all the other candidates on the job market.

If you’re not getting the responses you expected, your CV may be suffering from the following problems.


It’s difficult to read

With recruiters receiving hundreds of CVs every week, they digest an awful lot of written content on a daily basis. If your CV is difficult to read, then recruiters will struggle to extract the information they need, and may even be reluctant to read it at all.

To avoid this happening to you; organise the information on your CV well, with clear section divisions, bold headings, broken up text and plenty of bullet points. Head your CV up with a short sharp profile to sell yourself and reel readers in, and include a list of core skills to provide a snapshot of your offerings.

Roles should be headed with an outline to show where you are positioned within the organisation and what the ultimate aim of your job is. Then responsibilities and achievements should be listed underneath in succinct bullet points.


It’s not tailored

If your CV doesn’t reflect the candidate requirements for the jobs you are applying for, then you are unlikely to ever be invited to interview. To make your CV most effective, you must tailor it specifically towards your target roles, as much as possible.

Many candidates make the mistake of including every skill possible in their CV, in a bid to give it wide appeal. Unfortunately, this approach will often make you appear as a “jack of all trades, but master of none” – this means somebody who knows a little about many subjects, but doesn’t have deep knowledge in any one particular subject.

Most jobs require a specific set of skills, and that is what the recruiters in question will be looking for. So, it’s best to identify they type of role you are applying for, and build your CV around the most relevant skills, experience and knowledge for those roles.

Make the most in-demand requirements prominent in your CV and cut back on information that won’t be relevant to your desired employers.


You’re not proving your impact

Listing your roles and responsibilities is important, but they are meaningless if you don’t show the impact that your actions make in the workplace.

For example, instead of simply writing:

“Informing customers of new products and promotions”

You could expand on this point to show the impact you have made on the business like this:

“Informing customers of new products and promotions, leading to a 10% increase in sales”

This way, any reader can understand how your work benefits your employer.


It’s too long

Busy recruiters and hiring managers will not have the time to read a seven-page CV. If you want to ensure that your CV is read in full, keep it short and to the point. An ideal length to hold a reader’s attention is around 2 sides of A4.

If your CV is coming in a little long, then you can do the following things to cut it down:

  • Shorten old roles – Recruiters will spend most of their time scrutinising your current and recent roles, but they won’t be so interested in work you did years ago, so cut down old roles to one-line summaries.
  • Cut out irrelevant info – Review your CV and ask yourself if any of the content is surplus to requirement. For example, do you really need to include your scuba diving qualifications when applying to a finance role?
  • Streamline your writing – If you are rambling in your CV and taking too long to get the point, try to cut down your sentence length by improving your vocabulary and saying more with fewer words.

Andrew Fennell is an experienced recruiter across multiple industries, founder of London based CV writing service StandOut CV and author of How to Write a CV – The Ultimate Guide.