Comedy CVs: the gift that keeps on giving

Apologies for revisiting that hoary old chestnut of CV howlers. But clearly stupidity's still thriving in the downturn...

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 23 Feb 2011
When it comes to CVs, there are some fairly well-established rules. Don’t go over two pages, try to avoid using clichés, don’t include details that aren’t relevant to the role, and so on. Apparently, though, that sort of advice hasn’t quite filtered through to everyone. A survey by careers website has found some unusual antics from job candidates – including one who wrote their CV on a page torn from an exercise book (on the bright side, it sounds like they stuck to one page…), while another listed ‘the Almighty’ as a referee. Worse still, they forgot to include His phone number...
Now admittedly, candidates need to think about ways to make their CV stand out: according to the survey, of 757 employers across Europe, a third said they spend a minute or less reviewing a CV, while 14% said they spend a paltry 30 seconds or less. But there are limits: 23% they had spotted at least one lie in a CV said over the past year - probably including the recruiter who'd seen one CV listing ‘lion tamer’ in the hobbies section.
For those who have had trouble getting jobs, Careerbuilder has helpfully come up with a list of employers’ CV gripes. Apparently, more than a third say they’re put off by large blocks of text that are difficult to scan quickly, more than a quarter say they reject CVs that don’t include a cover letter, and 16% aren’t impressed by candidates with an ‘unprofessional’ email address (so the person who sent in a CV from an email address that includes ‘lovesbeer’ probably isn’t going to find themselves called in for an interview).
On the flipside, there are - supposedly - a few keywords you can use to up your chances in the jobs market. They’re all fairly predictable: 68% of employers said they look for ‘communication skills’, while 62% said they look for ‘problem-solving skills’ and 44% said they want candidates with ‘computer software skills’. Leadership, productivity and sales all rate highly, too. Although given that everyone tends to incorporate buzzwords like these nowadays, we're not sure how useful that will be as a selection tool.
OK, so all you well-informed MT readers will be quick to point out that as stories go, this one's firmly in the 'heard it all a thousand times before' category. But at a time when unemployment is still creeping inexorably upwards, we're frankly a bit amazed that jobseekers are still making such elementary errors. And it's always hard for us to resist telling you about someone putting ‘master of time and universe’ in the ‘experience’ section of their CV. If only we could all boast credentials like that.

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