After a year of living in London and exploring the different career opportunities the UK has to offer, here are three things I’ve learned not to do when writing your CV:
Do NOT include a photograph
This one is particularly mystifying for some international students, but in the UK including a picture of yourself on your CV is not expected, nor is it recommended. Actually, doing so can even be prejudicial. This is the case for two main reasons:
First, British recruiters are particularly sensitive to equality of opportunity. This is due to the 2010 Equality Act which protects applicants from discrimination, based on characteristics such as age, race or disability.
Second, more and more employers sort CVs using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which digitises the recruitment process. This software may not have been programmed to take in images and might therefore reject all CVs containing anything that it doesn’t comprehend.
Do NOT use the pronoun ‘I’
It is quite intuitive, when talking about oneself, to use the pronoun ‘I’. However, it is something that is not particularly well perceived in a CV. If you’re confused about what pronoun to use instead, the answer is none! Whilst this may seem counterintuitive at first, the advice makes perfect sense when combined with another norm of British CV-writing: don’t write full sentences.
The best way to structure your CV is to use bullet points which start with the verb or action. For instance you might say, ‘led a team of 6 people’ or, for a current job, ‘organising company social events.’ These examples bring me to another tip: use active and assertive verbs such as implement, develop, create, collaborate, analyse, lead, etc. Avoid more passive verbs and instead claim credit for what you’ve accomplished!
Do NOT make it too long
As tempting as it might be to put all of your achievements on your CV (and you probably have a lot!), it is more effective to keep it brief and to the point. It’s said that, on average, recruiters look at a CV for 7 seconds before making a decision. Therefore, it needs to be readable and spot-on.
As a rule of thumb, your CV should not be more than one page. Of course, you probably can’t fit all of your experiences and skills into one single page and this is why you need to tailor your CV to the firm you’re applying to.
Your CV should not show why you’re the most qualified person on earth, but instead why you’re the most qualified person for the job. It should demonstrate that you know what the position is about, that you have the required skills and that you share the values of the company.
To tailor your CV correctly, read the job description (if there is one) and try to make keywords appear in your CV. This will help you pass the ATS test! Moreover, research the firm on the web and try to soak in its language and immerse yourself in its mindset.
Bonus: Keep the layout sober
Thanks to technology, it has become increasingly easy to find fancy templates for your CV. Nevertheless, banking on originality can be counterproductive, especially since elaborate layouts often make the content less readable. It is thus safer to count on content rather than form to stand out.
In my opinion, these are probably the most frequent blunders students make in their CVs.
If you need further guidance on how to get your dream internship, don’t hesitate to book an appointment with LSE Life. I also recently attended a (very necessary) CV workshop organised by LSE Careers and I would recommend it! You can also submit your CV on CareerSet to get automatic feedback and suggestions for improvement.
Any view represented or advice given within this blog is that of the author.