With so many experts purporting to offer CV advice these days, it is sometimes difficult to know who to believe. It is quite common to receive conflicting advice on your CV from all these various sources. This not only creates confusion but also serves to perpetuate the myths and general ignorance surrounding the compilation and use of a CV. So what is truth?
Here is my list of the five most common myths surrounding CVs:
1) A bad CV will end up in the bin
The most common myth, and one which I find mildly infuriating, is the belief that, should your CV fail to impress, it will end up in the bin. C’mon, do you really think employers are so disrespectful that they would treat the result of all your hard work with such contempt? Employers are human after all. The truth is that if your CV is no good, it does not go in the bin – but it may get passed over fairly quickly.
2) A good CV will get me a job
Wrong! It is only designed to get you to the interview. It is often forgotten that the CV is only the first stage – merely a tool to convey information about you. It is the initial interview, and what follows, that will be used to decide an offer of employment.
3) A CV should be only 1 page in length
Where DOES this belief originate? Actually, a 1 page CV is not very common. To have a 1 page CV you would need to be straight out of school, with virtually no work experience, and certainly no degree. Notable exceptions of course are, for example, some of the prominent merchant banks, who will deliberately request a 1 page CV. A true test of your editing skills – and your judgement.
4) You shouldn’t put your date of birth on your CV
There is a lot of misconception surrounding this and I think it arises from the change in UK legislation which was passed in October 2006, which effectively made it illegal for a prospective employer to discriminate against potential candidates on grounds of their age. This was designed to eliminate age preferences for example in jobs ads. Don’t misinterpret the intention. It doesn’t mean you are forbidden from putting your date of birth on your CV. It does, however, mean you can withhold it if you so wish. Ultimately, the choice is yours.
5) A CV is a legal document
No it isn’t, and you cannot be held legally liable for anything contained in it. Whilst I do not condone the inclusion of false information, we must remember it is a sales document and as such there is room for some creativity. It will contain a favourable description of your skills and achievements, but on the whole it should be accurate and true. I think the confusion here stems from the humble application form. If you have ever completed a job application form you will know that you are required to sign a declaration at the end stating that all information is true and correct and that nothing of significance has been omitted. This becomes part of your contract of employment in the event that your application is successful. That makes it a legal document, whereas a CV is not.
I hope this goes some way to debunking some of the most common myths about CVs.
Peter Panayotou is the Founder and Senior Consultant at The Write Stuff
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