I once reviewed a graduate CV in which the applicant told me their favourite colour was green. I’ve also reviewed CVs where people have included details of their 10 metre swimming badge and titles of books that they have enjoyed. None of these inclusions helped to support their application!
It definitely used to be more common to include details of your hobbies however, nowadays, the norm is to keep things strictly professional. The only occasions when I would suggest including hobbies and outside interests, are:
- if they are relevant to the role you are applying for and therefore demonstrate your passion for, and knowledge of, the industry or sector
- you are applying for graduate roles straight from university and they will help you to demonstrate key competency areas such as leadership, team working and organisation.
Unexplained gaps in your career history ring alarm bells with recruiters and employers. Make sure that you haven’t created any artificial gaps by including incorrect dates in your career timeline – it can happen. Also don’t just leave out jobs that you think are not relevant to the role; all experience is relevant and leaving jobs out needlessly creates the impression you have something to hide. If you have a long career history, you may be tempted to omit your earlier roles, particularly if they are more junior. Again, leaving them out entirely is not advisable however your early career can be easily summarised with a statement such as ‘Pre 1998: Variety of marketing roles, with organisations including Starbucks, Marks & Spencer, Diageo’, for example.
Where you do have a genuine gap, honesty is the best policy. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t put a positive spin on it. For example, I dealt with a client’s 15 year career break by stating “1996-2012: Career break – managing my family and home. This required effective organisational skills, managing multiple schedules, a proactive approach to problem solving, a high degree of flexibility and the ability to prioritise effectively.”
So, there you have it – my top 10 CV sins. Avoid these, and you will be on the right track to ensuring that your CV looks both professional and up-to-date.