Stop your CV from ringing alarm bells!
November 19, 2012
There are so many things to consider when putting together a CV, but it’s a good idea to think about a few things that might have employers making assumptions about you.
Essentially, it’s all about explaining the things that your job history on its own doesn’t really cover, from why you left your last job, to other personal circumstances. Leave these explanations out, and you’re leaving it up to a stranger to decide what kind of employee you might be, and when you’re up against tough competition, it’s not a good idea to take chances!
You have multiple short-term jobs.
If your CV paints you as someone who has a habit of job-hopping (unless you’re a contractor, of course, this can be part of the game!), potential employers might be concerned that you get bored of your jobs easily, have trouble finding the right job, or that you simply can’t keep one. If you can explain the (good) reasons for multiple short-term jobs it can ensure that those reading your CV don’t jump to any damning conclusions.
You left your last job with nothing else lined up.
While not everyone has the luxury of having a job to leave before taking up a new position, some employers will raise an eyebrow if you left a job without having another one waiting in the wings, and they’ll ask themselves what really happened – maybe you got fired, or maybe you’re easily upset and make impulsive decisions. Would you want someone like that working for you? Again, if you have a good reason for leaving your last job, make it clear either in your CV or cover letter to alleviate any concerns.
You were laid off from your last job.
People can get laid off for many reasons and sometimes it isn’t the person’s fault – companies can cut back, restructure, and so forth. If you were made redundant or were at the mercy of cutbacks, be sure to mention what happened and also say who else lost their jobs too. Don’t name them individually, of course, but if your entire division was let go, it can take the responsibility off of you. If you were the only one who was laid off, that raises a lot more questions.
You’ve been unemployed for a while.
Even in a recession, it doesn’t look great to be unemployed for a long time, and some people will wonder why it’s taken someone so long to find a new job – is it that no one else will hire them? However, all is not lost for someone who has been out of work for a while. If you’ve taken time out for family commitments, or if you’ve been studying to develop your skills – even if you’ve been on a round-the-world backpacking trip – it all looks a lot better than “I’ve been applying for jobs for the last year”.
You have unexplained gaps between jobs.
Related to the last point, employers may become suspicious if you’ve got long gaps between work. Did you leave without having something lined up? Did you wipe something off of your CV deliberately? What are you trying to hide? These gaps can look suspicious, so it’s good to make sure there is some explanation for them.
None of your previous bosses are in your references.
If you only offer character references on your CV, or ones from people you never really reported to, employers might wonder why – is it that none of your previous managers were willing to give you a reference, or you’re scared of things they might bring up? Ensure you have references from people who can talk about the quality of your work; your strengths, weaknesses, and generally how employable you are.
Take me back.