Employers' biggest CV hates revealed in New College of the Humanities research

Typos and grammatical errors, an overly casual tone, and the use of jargon and clichéd quotes lead recruiters' top 10 CV hates

Aftab Ali
Friday 18 September 2015 11:16
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(via Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
(via Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Are you a recent graduate, or have you been toiling away for weeks or months on end to make the perfect CV to impress an employer? Well, read this and weep, because new research reveals recruiters make their mind up on a resumé – in less than 60 seconds.

That’s right. The new findings from New College of the Humanities (NCH) have come after researchers interviewed over 860 recruiters – from 2,000 people – of which 20 per cent said they discard a CV before getting to the end.

On the whole, employers revealed they spend an average of just three minutes and 14 seconds looking over an application.

With hundreds of thousands of graduates infiltrating the jobs market this month, NCH says it has never been more important for jobseekers to impress employers with a really strong CV.

From the top ten list of biggest employer gripes, first place went to typos and grammatical errors – not knowing the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, or ‘there’ and ‘their’ – followed by an overly casual tone which includes using ‘you guys’ or signing off with ‘cheers’.

The third most popular complaint was the use of jargon and clichéd quotes, such as ‘thinking outside the box’ and, believe it or not, stating ‘perfectionism’ as a weakness:

Director of professional development at NCH, Swatee Jasoria, described how writing the great CV is an art, adding that students should strive to stand out from the crowd where the competition for graduate jobs is still high, despite a recovering economy.

Despite almost a quarter (24 per cent) of candidates claiming they have ‘excellent written communication skills’, many of them fall foul of using worn clichés in their CVs: 47 per cent claim to work well independently, while 32 per cent say they’re a ‘team player’:

Another employer gripe was candidates who lie in their application: one in ten candidates confessed to have been creative with the truth about length of employment at previous companies, one in 20 have bent the truth about their previous position, and a similar number have even lied about their references.

Interestingly, almost twice as many women (11 per cent) lie about their hobbies and interests compared to men (six per cent).

Now, in a bid to do things differently, NCH is running an alternative graduate recruitment fair this month, showcasing its students’ CVs to potential employers through the medium of art which will be open to the public from 18 September.

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