Think your CV's bad? Just look at your boss's

A survey has suggested that while they might like to think they're at the top of their game, senior executives make just as many CV mistakes as the rest of us.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 14 Jul 2011
You’d have thought that by the time you’ve reached the top of the career ladder, your CV would be so polished you’d be able to see your reflection in it. Not so, suggests a survey by top-level recruitment agency InterExec: apparently, senior executives’ resumes are just as riddled with spelling mistakes and formatting errors as the rest of us – although those aren’t, admittedly, their most frequent CV faux pas…

According to the survey of 100 of the UK’s top senior exec headhunters, 63% said those vying for the corner office fail to point out their accomplishments on their CVs, listing their duties instead, which is less likely to impress prospective employers. Just over half said they make the classic mistake of including too much irrelevant information about themselves (we doubt anyone has ever been hired on the basis of their passion for ‘occasional fell-walking’), while more than a third pointed out too much jargon or too many abbreviations.

Perhaps the most surprising point was that 54% said those at the top made their CVs too long – which seems like a rookie error, considering the candidates in question have presumably a) applied for enough jobs and more pointedly b) hired and fired enough people to be aware of the optimum length for a CV.

That wasn’t the only obvious mistake, though: 11% of the headhunters said CVs have formatting errors when they’re sent over email (hint: it’s all about tables), while 2% said they’ve seen CVs include information that’s just plain wrong. And 10% said they’re ‘overly arrogant’ – although we’d argue that, since the people in question are able to command salaries of between £200,000 and £1m+, that’s probably fair enough.

Now, we can’t help but acknowledge that 100 isn’t exactly the optimum sample size for a survey – but there’s still a thing or two to be learned from this. Firstly, that the old adage of getting someone else to proof-read your CV is always helpful when it comes to making sure everything is tip-top. And secondly, that no matter how senior you are, the old rules still apply – particularly the one about keeping your CV to two pages.

Still – at least it makes MT feel better about the time it informed a prospective employer, with great confidence, that it graduated from university in 1907. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t get the job…

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