There are numerous ways in which a candidate can create a standout Curriculum Vitae (CV) that grabs the attention of a potential employer. From good formatting and layout to detailed experience and skills, a strong CV generally stands out from the rest.
But there are also CV embellishments that can make one stand out for all the wrong reasons. It is therefore important for employers to look out for key red flags during the recruitment process.
Tips on common CV stumbling blocks.
Regular job changes: While frequent job hopping used to be a sign of instability, the attitude around it is slowly changing and it has become a more acceptable, especially among millennials. However, it is important to look closely into the reasons for frequent job changes in any CV. Poor and unstable economies result in retrenchments and redundancies, which means the candidate is not always at fault. But if the candidate has had it happen to them often, that could be a sign of incompetence. Companies retain strong employees, so if a candidate was not retained then it could mean they were underperformers. Questioning them around frequent job changes can also help recruiters find out more about the candidate’s ambitions and expectations from employers.
Career gaps: Career gaps are nothing to be alarmed about unless they are not properly explained in the CV. Strong candidates are able to and will ensure that gaps in their careers are properly explained. However, candidates with long or unexplained gaps could be a cause for concern. Candidates who may have had a negative experience with a previous employer may decide to omit the tenure from their CV so that they are not questioned about it. But as a recruiter, is important to know the reasons behind unexplained career gaps. Furthermore, pay attention to start and end dates and question them if they don’t seem to add up.
Being unspecific: Everyone knows of someone who exaggerates their experience by listing a host of impressive duties and responsibilities. However, if they seem too broad or generic, then they probably are inaccurate embellishments. Look out for candidates who don’t qualify their claims with facts and figures. They should be able to tell you in detail about the nature of their duties and responsibilities.
Attention to detail: It is not uncommon for job seekers to spam employers and recruiters with generic CVs. However, a person who is serious about your specific vacancy would take the time to customise their CV before sending it to you. If you are looking for the right candidate, focus on those who pay attention to detail. A customised cover letter is a positive sign that the candidate has given enough thought to the vacancy and made a conscious effort to showcase their skills and experience that are relevant to you. It is important to pay attention to grammatical and formatting errors as this can be a sign of haphazardness.
Adverse screening results: it is imperative to run verification checks on candidates’ personal details, experience, credit history and criminal checks. By using the correct tools, you will be in a better position prior to offering employment. Make informed decisions by improving transparency and disclosure through background screening. It is worth the investment as it protects your business from financial loss and expensive legal action that could be incurred through employing people with questionable integrity, credibility and skills.
Rudi Kruger is the General Manager at LexisNexis Risk Solutions.