So you’ve been looking for a job for a few weeks, but you still haven’t received a call back for an interview. Your first reaction may be to worry that your profile doesn’t interest employers; you may even be speculating that factors such as your age, your training and education, or lack of experience are what’s keeping employers from wanting to hire you.
Before jumping to conclusions, it’s a good idea to review your CV and make sure that there are no major problems with it. Below are three possible causes that could explain why your CV isn’t generating much interest among employers.
1 – Lack of clarity
Typically, a recruiter will only spend a few seconds looking at your CV. If it doesn’t catch their eye on the first pass, it will likely not merit a second look.
It’s an unfortunate reality that the very form of a CV can obscure the content within. For example, the font size might be too small to read easily; the arrangement of the sections might be confusing; it may be hard to discern key information, or to read clunky or run-on sentences.
This is a problem not only because the reading experience of your CV is unpleasant, but a recruiter may also get the impression that you have a hard time communicating clearly.
Beyond formatting, it’s extremely important that the actual content of your CV be as clear as possible. You can achieve clarity by:
- Avoiding too-long descriptions of work tasks (no more than 7 elements) for a single job. This is especially true for jobs that have no direct link to the job you’re applying for, or that you had more than 10 years ago.
- Deleting everything that doesn’t persuasively argue for your candidacy. Sometimes, descriptions of job tasks on CVs aren’t relevant to the job that the candidate has applied for; these irrelevant details take up precious space.
- Providing details. Elements that you touch on but don’t explain will have little impact on employers. With this in mind, I suggest that you delete sections like this – for example, a list of qualities without any explanations:
My personality: Responsible, dynamic, team player…
In terms of creating a sense of clarity in your CV, the most important thing is to reveal the thread that connects your experiences into one journey. A CV should read like a history of your life.
A recruiter needs to know what you did and when you did it. In many CVs, it takes careful reading to understand the chronology of the candidate’s professional history.
2 – Lack of precision
It’s important to be clear, but also avoid creating a CV that’s too “clean”. Your CV should showcase your strengths by detailing concrete achievements.
Let’s say you worked in sales: can you provide numbers to show your results? You managed a budget – how much money did you manage? If you managed a team, how many employees did you have?
Is there any better way for a recruiter to evaluate your achievements?
If you don’t have these numbers available, do some research or calculate a well-informed estimate. These details will help you during the interview. Including this type of information will also show the recruiter that you place value on results.
If, for example, you were in charge of training new employees in your previous job, there’s no number that can really qualify your success in that role. But you can use words to qualify how you achieved the results. A recruiter will get a very different picture of you from these two different descriptions:
Option 1: I trained new employees.
Option 2: I trained new employees using a warm and personalized approach to introduce them to the values of the organization.
After reading, the recruiter can then say that not only do you have experience in this role (Option 1), but that you also endeavored to do your job well and in a human way (Option 2).
It’s your job to address every element of your CV that could raise questions on the part of the recruiter.
3 – Lack of personality
Many job seekers treat their CV as if it were a simple form to fill out; they’re happy to fill in the required information without ever seeking to distinguish themselves from the pack with a unique value proposition.
A CV should be treated like a sales pitch. Above all else, it needs to be dynamic and to present your professional identity in a positive light.
A recruiter should be able to imagine you “in action” and to understand what motivates you. This is why you shouldn’t hesitate to include a personal touch in your CV.
There’s a big difference between these two descriptions:
Option 1: I presented the annual report to the directors of the company.
Option 2: I played an influential role in working with the directors of the company and being part of certain strategic files in assisting with the preparation of the annual report. I received congratulations from the president of the company both for my communication skills and the level of engagement I demonstrated during this process.
Option 2 is much more developed than option 1, but option 2 also poses risks: It’s possible that a recruiter might interpret this description as suggesting that you are someone who takes up a lot of space. Showing personality in your CV can be a double-edged sword: after all, what if the recruiter doesn’t like your personality?
That being said, in my opinion, deciding not to show any personality at all is the bigger risk when crafting your CV.
In conclusion, avoid trying to do too much in your CV; don’t try to be excessively original. Your CV is not the place to make jokes, and it shouldn’t be printed on a brightly-colored piece of paper.
Instead of cheap tricks like these, try to distinguish yourself by providing concrete examples of your skills.
By: Mathieu Guénette, Guidance Counsellor at Les Chercheurs de sens