Trust us – you're not fooling anyone.

There's plenty of CV advice available online, providing tips and tricks on how to compile the perfect CV. Some of it is sensible advice, the rest … not so much. Recruiters see thousands of CVs each year, meaning they're more than capable of spotting any sneaky or even less-than-ethical tricks you might be using. Here, we'll help you weed out the bad advice so that you have a CV you can be proud of. 

Visuals and graphics

While an eye-catching design sounds desirable, there are some visual tricks you need to avoid. The vast majority of medium and large businesses use applicant tracking systems to scan and sort CVs. These systems often react unfavourably to any graphics and images you include, which may result in your carefully crafted layout going awry or, at worst, your CV being rendered unreadable.

Why would you include graphics anyway? Your photo definitely shouldn't be included, as anti-discrimination laws mean that it should be ignored. Meanwhile, company logos shift the focus of the CV from you onto the companies you've worked for. A restrained pop of colour is fine to give your CV some stylet, but ensure the overall impression remains professional. 

Keyword stuffing

While we're on the subject of applicant tracking systems, we need to look at keywords. If your CV is going to be successfully parsed through an ATS, it will need to contain the necessary keywords that present you and your skills as being appropriate to the vacancy. So, for example, a used car salesman would need to include words such as 'sales', 'negotiation', 'finance' and so on. What is NOT recommended, however, is stuffing your CV so full of keywords that it stops making sense.

Your CV will, at some point, be in the hands of a human recruiter. The computer may be fooled by your tricks, but rest assured that a human will realise that your overuse of keywords is an attempt to disguise a flaky work history. A well-crafted CV will automatically contain the relevant keywords, naturally occurring within your responsibilities and achievements.

White text

No, you should not include the keywords as white text. Yes, the ATS will probably register them and you may pass the first computer sift. But the human reviewing your CV will still be basing their decisions on your experience and successes, not on your ability to hide keywords in the document.

Additionally, recruiters are wise to this trick and will sometimes highlight documents on-screen or print all text in black, in which case there's every chance that your hidden keyword stuffing will be apparent for all to see. This trick leaves you looking foolish and somewhat lacking in integrity. Take the time to write a strong CV in the first place. 

Excessive length

More does not necessarily equal better. When faced with a huge pile of CVs to review, an HR manager will appreciate the applicant who can write concisely and focus on the relevant details. Waffle and pointless information just dilute the impact of the important bits. Summarise, re-write, delete and focus your CV to ensure you're presenting a high-impact, relevant version of your recent career. Learn more about the appropriate length for a CV. 

Avoid the pitfalls altogether

Of course, you can avoid all these pitfalls completely by hiring a professional CV writer to prepare an ATS- and recruiter-friendly version of your CV. Here at TopCV, we've seen every trick in the book and we know what works and what doesn't, meaning that you can sit back and relax while someone else prepares your job-search documents.

Click here for more information about working with a CV-writing expert.

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