IT Employment

You say resume, we say CV

The résumé, or CV, as it is known this side of the water, is there as a tool to get you noticed by a prospective employer. It is the key selling tool at your disposal but so often it can do more damage than good.

When we are looking for work, our principal tool for selling ourselves is the CV or résumé , but research has shown me that they can do as much harm as good. We get one shot at attracting the attention of the HR department, but it is amazing what silly mistakes people make on their CVs.

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Here are some of the howlers I have seen:

Under "previous experience" one applicant wrote that she had worked for a riding stable and her duties included “Picking up feses (faeces) from the field.” Not only did she demonstrate her lack of ability to spell or even use a spell checker, but she also made the mistake of assuming that her skill at picking up secondhand horse food would interest an employer. I only hope she washed her hands before attending interviews!

Another gave the reason for leaving his previous job as “having an fist fight with his boss.” While we respected his honesty, I couldn’t help feeling it wasn’t a very positive point to make.

Writing the words “Curriculum Vitae” across the top of the page may be somewhat unnecessary (and there is even more chance to make a spelling mistake), as can using a font that would not look out of place in a Lord of the Rings film.

Simple rules for the CV should include:

Check the spelling.

Be clear and factual.

Don’t try to be too clever –- I remember one that bore the line: “I suppose you are wondering; is there anything this girl can’t do!”

Read the job advert; if the ad states that you must be available to work shifts, it is useless to say that you can only work 9-5. Nothing irritates a recruiter more than reading that the person does not fit the basic requirements, and your application will hit the bottom of the bin before you can say boo to a goose!

For example, the person I was talking to was trying to recruit a temporary worker for the Christmas period. The job advert clearly stated the weeks that the person was needed, but the first application she looked at was from a person who was very keen to start work but could not work the two weeks either side of Christmas, due to family commitments.

Just because there is a section on the application form asking about your interests, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you have to dazzle a future employer, nor should you try to make yourself seem more interesting. I made this mistake once; I have a wide range of quirky and sometimes off-the-wall interests, from writing to sea swimming, reading, building, playing guitars, bagpipes, trumpet, banjo, and mandolin, and doing ventriloquism. I even built and sail my own boat.

While I am no expert in any of these things, I do enjoy having a go at things and derive a great deal of pleasure from these hobbies. I no longer list all of them, because I was told by one prospective employer that all my hobbies sounded as though they were made up to sound more interesting. Now, I edit the list to include a few things that might interest the company I am applying to, having done a little research beforehand to list those things that may fit with the company ethos and the person who I would be working for.

What CV or résumé gaffes and howlers have you seen?

66 comments
EdLockett
EdLockett

It's r??sum?? Resume is what happens when you continue doing something that you were doing earlier but had to stop. Sorry, but there is so much talk of spelling and grammar on here that I just had to get this one in.

chad
chad

It is my understanding that the difference between a CV and a resume is length and detail. A resume should be short and to the point... only the information you want to present for the job you are applying for. A CV is a summary of your life experience. It is a document that contains every item of information that describes you as a professional, not just the information you want to present for a specific job. I have worked for professors who have 30+ page CVs (mine is only up to 5).

Joe_R
Joe_R

Interesting piece and discussion - thanks.

boubazo
boubazo

One online application system asks for Degree Received. I reviewed the results of this field. Some applicants list "Second Degree Assault" or "First Degree Criminal Mischief". I admire their honesty and careful interpretation of the question...

jwlindsey
jwlindsey

I'm sure many of you have seen this "essay" on a college application form but it could easily be transformed to entries on a CV. I found the URL below that has copied the information and identified under the heading "Personal Information" --- Message was edited by: tcavadias - URL removed due to nature of content

mike
mike

I once received a resume from a newly retired veteran. The opening line was. Dear Mamma, I'd think military would have some type of assistance for retirees who are looking for work.

nuklearkrisis
nuklearkrisis

In college; every single quarter from the day I started to the day I graduated; required I built a working software project in a team. I even interned at IBM building software in a team, plus I was the PM as well. All this is on my resume, but nobody in Los Angleles seems to care, they ony care about "paid work experience + a degree". So is college experience worth anything on a resume? What difference does it make if you built a project in a team or just took a bunch of hard math and algorithms classes in college, with little team project work? If non paid college experience doesn't count for anything, then why does non paid open source projects look so much better on a CV? Does the system not trust college educations, unless you come from an Ivy League school? My old PC-Tech jobs seem to be more juicy information to employers than my degree in computer science.

soundsolutionsinc
soundsolutionsinc

My brother in law had created a brand new resume and wanted to brag about how much computer knowledge he had. So he put down that he was "Computer illiterate". Apparently he was just illiterate. I caught the error and he changed the resume. I think I may have done him a dis-service.

GSG
GSG

I worked for a corporate head hunter and it was not unusual to get resume's written on the most odd scraps of paper. My favorite was the one written in orange crayon on the back of his daughter's art project that had been done on pink construction paper. Luckily, our policy was always to re-type resumes into our format. Oh, and this guy was applying for a position as a packaging engineer. He had a masters, so he should have known better. Then I had an application from a guy who said he'd been fired from his last job for taking a gun to work and threatening to shoot his boss. Guess where he worked. Yes, he worked at the United States Post Office. Needless to say, I returned the application to HR with a sharply worded memo about reviewing the applications before sending them to me.

thepraxislady
thepraxislady

Excuse Me? When did CV come out of academia and into the IT community? And from the replies, everyone did not get that memo either that "resume" is out and replace with ahum, CV? As an educator and a TechRep member since 1999, this is 'news to me."

svasani
svasani

At least for highly technical jobs, I have seen some resumes running wild with spelling and grammatical mistakes make it through. For some reason, folks in IT don't seem too inclined to have any of their presentations (including resumes) grammatically perfect. P.S. You should read their internal emails.

llaunders
llaunders

This wasn't exactly a CV/resume, but on an application form. In response to the question "Why do you want to work here?" the applicant replied, quite succinctly and literally, "need job bad." I'll bet!!

skydiver81
skydiver81

I once had an applicant indicate that he was fluent in speaking, reading and writing Sparmish. I have not yet visited this country, I suspect that its' name may be Sparmland.

j.bird
j.bird

I so often see, 'I have excellent written and verbal communication skills' and a CV that proves they do not. I once had a candidate turn up dripping with sweat, I asked if anything was wrong, he told me that he had arrived 20 minutes too early and so had decided to jog around the park...

cladkins
cladkins

The mistake I see that will put a resume right onto the bottom of the pile is a capital letter at the beginning of every line in a paragraph. This means the applicant doesn't know how to use the software properly -- they have hit the "Enter" key at the end of every line.

cladkins
cladkins

The mistake I see most often is a capital letter at the beginning of every line in a paragraph. This is a dead giveaway to me that the person doesn't know how to use the software properly -- they hit the Enter/Return key at the end of every line! Their resume will go into the dumper every time.

john-benson18
john-benson18

I did this CV for my next door neighbour. Comments please. Personal Profile For some years I was a voluntary carer for my long-term partner. Regrettably, she passed away last year. During that time I learned some home skills including the preparation of nourishing meals. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Key Skills During those years and before, I have found work in a variety of trades as an unskilled worker but I can say, with attention and commitment when possible. They included; ceiling fixer, bricklaying, furniture removal and kitchen assistant. Always anxious to learn, I also picked up a little French, Japanese and Cantonese! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- What am I looking for? I want a chance to become fully employed in an occupation which allows for my friendly and caring nature, and an opportunity to progress. I would not object to a part time position initially but would expect to be offered fuller hours once I have gained sufficient knowledge to become a useful member of staff. My inclination is to train as a chef and progress from there. Apart from cooking for my partner, I have often prepared party fare and barbecues and general cooking for my, very large, family and friends. I do have a serious kitchen! I have lived at the above address for over 20 years and keep it in good condition. I can turn my hand to most things and am very prepared to work at anything that might become necessary. You might consider giving me a trial, for a few days, which I offer freely, without charge if you do not find me suitable. Employers Lovells, Mansell???s, both building contractors, self employed installing suspended ceilings at the Tate Gallery, where I was allowed to work unsupervised and others, less well known, all of whom will provide a reference if requested! ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Education & Training School: Holloway Secondary School. I have a certificate in ???Food and Hygiene???, which I am in the process of renewing. Interests I enjoy a variety of sociable pursuits with family and friends and, particularly, entertaining and feeding them at my home!

EdLockett
EdLockett

I think it would be fun if that was indeed what it was called. Silly forum messing up the characters!

DasTwitcH
DasTwitcH

some of which are: 1. College/University experience is not real world experience. Even interning. There's no dollar-value risk or pressure to it. 2. College curricula are determined at the beginning of the degree at the latest; so especially in IT, you're pretty much guaranteed to be at least 3 years out of date by the time you graduate. 3. Employers are trained to look at real-world experience, as anything can be claimed to have been done at a university. You can call someone's ex-boss and check the veracity of their claims with a job.

lauterm
lauterm

You should have held on to that last application. You never know when some deserving company will be in need of his unique abilities. :-P

bubblesroe
bubblesroe

I had one guy apply for a technical position at my computer store with a resume (or CV, whatever) that was almost totally unreadable. He even spelled his name wrong! The formatting errors, the inconsistencies in layout, the mish mash of fonts and his total lack of sentence construction or grammar of any form was incredible. He couldn't understand why I wasn't interested in him. So I showed him his resume and went through it carefully, showing him everything that was wrong with it. I explained that a prospective employer would be looking for a resume that showed care and skill in writing. SO I gave him back his resume with all the corrections and he left. The next day he was back in the store, with his retyped (and now corrected) resume expecting me to give him a job because he now had a good resume. SIGH

Jeff Dray
Jeff Dray

In Britain we don't use Resume, we call it a CV even when applying for a road sweeper job.

Heidi Vodka
Heidi Vodka

I guess it is simply a matter of the predominant version of English as spoken in the workplace: English -v- US English, for example. This was alluded to in the first paragraph of the original article upon which we are all commenting. I'll refrain from commenting on your typos, since you're an educator.

mj9129
mj9129

We were conducting a search for a Help Desk tech and the resumes went through a committee for screening and recommendation. Imagine my surprise when the resume of one of their top three candidates was clearly photocopied along with having the address crossed-out and a new address written in by hand. I mean, really, if you are applying for a tech job, seems you'd want to demonstrate the ability to edit your resume and print a clean copy. Although, because she was recommended, I had to interview her, she had no chance at all of getting the job regardless of how glowing her talents might be (turns out she had very few - surprise, surprise...).

The DOBC
The DOBC

Our CEO will routinely send internal memo's back "bled all over" (corrected for spelling and typos with a red marker). You don't make those mistakes again if you can help it. He also expects it back correct. He figures that if he has to read it, you have to attempt to make it readable. It also keeps you from sending such garbage out to others in the Companies name.

skydiver81
skydiver81

Am I just arrogant, or is this beyond a generalization? I work with gifted techies that can remember a million command-line arguments and switches, but they can't remember the differences between they're their and there...

dan
dan

Attention to detail in high tech is ALWAYS important - if an applicant provides a resume' that's rife with errors, what will that person's work output look like? I've seen internal emails that were completely illegible. Wonder what that person's code looked like?

Brummy
Brummy

So - maybe that's where all the Sparm that ends up in my inbox, comes from

skydiver81
skydiver81

You have to admire his ambition if you can look past his lack of common sense.

wolfshades
wolfshades

I've been responsible for hiring folk for my organization so...... I like the direction of this CV generally. Lose the exclamation points, and I'm not really interested in whether he or she has a "serious kitchen". A point of pride for the person applying - an annoying detail for the person reading. Instead of "my, very large, family and friends" (which sounds like a desperate attempt to impress), use facts. "I have cooked meals for parties of up to 90 people" (or whatever). The tone of it sounds like he or she is trying hard to impress and doesn't quite believe in him/herself. So...work on that a bit. For example: the line "where I was allowed to work unsupervised" should be revised to say something like "I was solely responsible for the installation of suspended ceilings at the Tate Gallery". Basically it says the same thing but the word "allowed" is removed. Do you see how that translates to the viewer? Too many commas in there. That last paragraph almost doesn't make sense. It looks like it needs to be two separate sentences as there are two separate ideas there (I'm guessing). The offer of a free trail run is an excellent idea and should be presented as early as possible. You might also want to indicate exactly the kind of work the person is looking for - right at the top of the document. The reader shouldn't have to dig deeply in it to find it. Altogether not too bad.

Babio
Babio

I once read a resume from an individual applying for a network tech position. He listed " pier to pier" networking skills. I figured he was probably once in the Navy....

thepraxislady
thepraxislady

We had a grad student some years back anxious to quickly hit the job market. He avoided having his resume (CV) submitted to the Career Center for review as is the practice. He may have been 1) too anxious to get a position before he graduated, 2) felt his spell check and grammar features were enough, 3) too arrogant to seek help or confirmation. He sent his resume to 90 potential employers. One employer who often worked with us on placements called after receiving his resume. The potential employer asked if we reviewed his resume. He pointed out the part describing the position the student was seeking. We did not have a copy on file, so we asked the student for an e-copy. After opening the file, then looking at the title of the position he was seeking, we called the student. You see, according to his resume (CV), he was seeking a PUBIC Administrator position. He was quite embarrassed and did not know how to recover. He eagerly agreed to come in for a little damage control.

nick
nick

So you had a guy, who was shown his mistakes and learnt from that not to repeat the mistake again. Can you send me his contact details he sounds great! I have staff that keep repeating the same mistake over and over and over and never learn.

Heidi Vodka
Heidi Vodka

It seems to me that one of the main differences between UK English and US English is that the US at least try to pronounce words that originate from French the way the French pronounce them. Resume is one, garage is another... but I'm getting thoroughly off-topic. Apologies.

thepraxislady
thepraxislady

Thank you, Jeffrey. That makes sence, since it was not directly noted in the article.

rehorst
rehorst

One applicant referred to himself as "a renaissance man." He turned out to be more like B. C. and the Wheel. Another included in his resume one year of study in mortuary science. I think I would have left that out even though not a grave mistake.

mawestmeyer
mawestmeyer

You wrote "in the Companies name" using the correct pluralization rule for words ending in "y" (drop the "y" and add "ie" before the "s"). Unfortunately, if you were talking about the name belonging to the company, you should have used the posessive "company's", not the plural. Also, unless "Company" is the name of the company, it is not a proper noun that requires capitalization.

thepraxislady
thepraxislady

For true validation of this generalization, ask a tech writer who must translate their jargon (shorthand) writings into readable lay language for those holding the purse strings. I noticed there are no tech writer stories posted.

Tink!
Tink!

has gone down the tubes. They're, There, and their along with Lose and Loose are so commonly misused it's nearly an epidemic. LOL. I find it rather annoying. But ignore it more than correct it, as it happens all too often.

bkreamer
bkreamer

The offer of a free trail run is an excellent idea and should be presented as early as possible. ...perhaps with an offer of a clean towel?

skydiver81
skydiver81

"pier to pier", "peer to peer" - po-tay-toe po-tah-toe....

thepraxislady
thepraxislady

Thank you for noticing. One technique used in adult education is to misspell word(s) on the white board to see if anyone in class notices. Most aware adult students who love to show off to their peers openly criticize the instructor on spelling errors. Actually it enlivens the whole class at that point. Funny, once pointed out, the rest of the class becomes more engaged. Everyone at one time or another taking a required class knows the frustration of sitting through a very dry subject. It is up to the educator to find ways to make the topic palatable and yet, if possible, engaging. Hope this makes sense? BTW: Sorry for the off-topic reply.

catpro-54
catpro-54

Hard to believe you're an educator.

cbarrows
cbarrows

...you should be wary of your spelling of possessive.

LadyReader
LadyReader

You'd think a professional sign-maker would 1) know how to spell and 2) double-check that every word on the signs he or she manufacures or paints is spelled correctly. And 3) gently advise storeowners of mispellings when they specify the wordage on a new sign. I just passed a liquor store that advertised "Beer's" on its sign.

Jeff Dray
Jeff Dray

The apostrophe used to denote a plural should carry a mandatory death sentence, along with dropping litter in the street and calling McDonald's a restaurant.

Tink!
Tink!

Now if we could only get everyone who misuses those words to write that sentence 100 times or until they get it right in their head! :D

unhappyuser
unhappyuser

They're going to lose their jobs because the two interns let the rope get loose and the boat ended up over there, along with the court papers too!