The easy-to-miss details companies want you to leave off your CV

04 July 2019 -

Mosaic makingThere are some obvious no-no’s, like referring to yourself in the third person, unnecessarily big words and even bigger lies about qualifications or hobbies. What else should you avoid?

You don’t want to be dismissed from a list of candidates because of criteria that have little, or nothing, to do with the role itself. We might not realise it, but we’re all guilty of unconscious bias. We’re hardwired to like and trust people who look and act like us, who come from similar backgrounds or who've lived through similar experiences.

This is just as true of recruiters as it is of anyone else in the workplace. In unwittingly categorising people according to their race, nationality, gender, age, educational background, or any number of other indicators, they risk missing out on opportunities to hire the best candidates.

For, as we now know, diversity is extremely good for business: according to a recent McKinsey study, gender-diverse organisations are 15% more likely to outperform financial expectations, while ethnically diverse companies are expected to outperform them by 35%.

As CMI’s Delivering Diversity report showed, a growing number of employers are recognising the impact that unconscious bias has on recruitment.

That said, you should still give your CV one more read and delete any information about yourself that could expose you to unconscious bias and cost you your dream job:

A photo: unless you’re applying for an acting, modelling or another job that requires a headshot, you don’t need a photo on your CV. Any other information about your physical appearance or attributes should be omitted.

Dates that could give away your age: discrimination based on age is illegal, but ageism exists. So dates that point to your age ― whether you’re a millennial or Generation Xer ― have no place on your CV, unless you are a very recent graduate.

Origins: where you come from is not something an employer needs to know, so omit mentions of ethnicity, race, nationality, culture or citizenship status (unless asked). There’s no need to list your languages, unless you feel this will help you get the job.

Marital status and sexuality: no employer can discriminate against you on this basis. No need to tell them on your CV that you’re married, plan to be, or used to be; whether you currently have children, or plan to have them at some point; or if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered.

Personal beliefs: unless you plan on working for a religious order or political party, your religious beliefs or political affiliations are of no relevance to your future employer.

Problem areas: if you left your previous job on bad terms, or strongly disliked your boss there, your CV is not the place to disclose it. In the same vein, there’s no reason for you to include details of any criminal record on a CV. Never lie about your criminal record when asked about it, but your CV is your personal sales tool used to promote your skills and experience and including negative information reduces your chances of progression.

As a job seeker, your suitability for positions should be measured objectively, and your CV needs to reflect this. Of course, the moment you walk through an employer’s doors for a job interview, you instantly reveal much more by the way you appear, speak and so on.

But at that stage, however, you can back up in person the knowledge, competence and enthusiasm you’ve already evidenced in your CV and application.

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