CV and Cover Letter

4 times your CV will let you down - and what to do about it

artice image If your CV has any problem areas, it will be to your benefit to explain why (Shutterstock)

When viewing a candidate’s CV employers tend to spend as little as a few seconds scanning it before deciding on whether or not it makes the grade or gets thrown into the trash. If you have any problem areas such as a lack of experience or gaps of long-term unemployment, here are a few tips to help you out.  

1. You lack experience 

Employers don’t know you. To them, a lack of experience may signal an inability to do the job and while you might be able to prove them wrong, your CV suggests differently. The reality is that there are plenty of candidates who have far more experience than you do, and who are probably lining up for an interview.

Solution: This might be a tough one to solve as many recruiters and employers only give CVs a second glance if it represents an outstanding employee. However, it’s not a lost cause – this is where an excellent cover letter will come into play. Use your cover letter to explain why you want the job and why you would be great at it. If you’ve had part-time jobs or have volunteered at other organisations, put it in your cover letter to show your potential employer that you have drive and a track record with references. And use the time between jobs to gain experience

2. You were recently fired

Potential employers want to hire someone reliable, and if you were fired from your previous job, they need to know that you won’t make the same mistake twice.

Solution: Before your interview practice your answer. Make sure you tell the interviewer what you learned and what you would now do differently given the chance. When answering you have to demonstrate to the interviewer that you hold no anger towards the company or your previous employers and that you’re ready to tackle new challenges.  

3. Your CV makes you look like a job hopper

 This may appear to be a problem as employers don’t want someone who will pack up and leave after a few months. If your CV indicates that you’ve stayed in various jobs for less than two years at a time, you may be labeled a job hopper. 

Solution: Make this work for you, not against you. Include as much detail as possible on your CV. If the 6-month job, for example was meant to be a short term job, then state “contract job”. If you meant to help out for only 3 months, say that it was a temp job. However, if those jobs really indicated that you were a job hopper, you’ll have to make the interviewer understand that you’re ready to find a stable job with a company that you can grow with and that your skills will add great value to the company.

4. You’ve been unemployed for a long time

 If you have long-term unemployment gaps on your CV the interviewer might wonder why no one has hired you during these times. They might question whether you were fired and left it off, for example.

Solution: If you had good reason for the gap in your CV like you were volunteering at a non-profit organisation, for example, say it in your interview. Whatever the reason was, be prepared to tell the interviewer why you were unemployed for a long period of time. 

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