The 5 reasons nobody wants to read your CV

By Steve Lord in careers | January 8, 2015

A Curriculum Vitae (otherwise known as a CV) is probably the least popular document this side of a legal bill. Chances are even you don't want to read your CV. Lets look at why.

The 5 reasons nobody wants to read your CV

A Curriculum Vitae (otherwise known as a CV) is probably the least popular document this side of a legal bill. Nobody wants to read your CV because they’ll have anywhere between 5 to 15 other CVs to read through after yours.

Ask yourself when was the last time you read your CV from start to finish without skimming? Chances are even you didn’t want to read your CV. Lets take a look at why nobody wants to read your CV.

CVs come in groups

Typically when a job is advertised the people handling applications go through a triage process. This tends to be more rigid in places where there are formal HR people, but even in smaller companies there’s some kind of sorting the wheat from the chaff. In order to do this people need to read each CV. For a job that’s not particularly in demand it’s not so bad, but imagine having to read a 3-5 page CV for 10 applicants. That’s 30-50 pages of embellishments and barely disguised lies, most of which won’t be relevant to the job. Heaven forbid you apply for a popular job with 50-100 applicants, because nobody wants to read your CV.

CVs are confusing

People are often told that CVs are the opportunity to sell yourself, but most people tend to do it really badly. If you’re not a salesperson then the chances are that you’ve had little by way of sales training, if any. It’s tempting to write a CV that extols your virtues, features every major buzzword for this year across the different roles you’ve had and leave it, sending the same CV to every job application for the year. This is wrong. For the poor chap reading your CV, this is their worst nightmare. Believe me when I say nobody wants to read your CV, especially if they can only find relevant buzzwords using the search function in their document viewer.

CVs are long and boring

The worst CVs are long meandering documents with little relevant information and make it hard to find what the recruiter’s looking for. It’s tempting to pad out your CV in order to make yourself look better, but all you’re doing is making yourself look like you’re destined for the reject pile. In case you haven’t noticed, nobody wants to read your CV. At most they want to get in, match you up to the things they need to match you to, measure you and make a quick yes/no decision. The worst CVs make it hard to do that. In contrast, the better CVs make it quick and easy for someone to make a decision as to whether they want to interview you. Is there a risk you’ll get a no by having a shorter CV that misses out something relevant? Yes, but if you’re tailoring the CV to the job application this won’t be a problem. Is there a risk your most relevant points will be missed by having a long meandering document? Absolutely.

The best CVs are short and straight to the point and are often little more than a marginally expanded resumé (don’t know the difference? See here) tailored to a specific job application, which brings me on to my next point.

CVs aren’t specific enough

If you don’t put the effort into customising your CV per application it’ll show. If you do customise your CV for each job application you’re interested in then you’ll stand out more. If you’re really interested in the job then customise the application to match the job specification, making sure that you have everything tightly organised so it’s really easy to match. The best CVs read like BBC news website articles. Summary at the top, detail going down, most relevant facts first. The minute someone decides to put you in the yes pile they’ll stop reading your CV. Why’s that? Because nobody wants to read your CV.

CVs speak to the wrong people

Did you know that other than yourself, your CV will probably only ever be read by 3 types of people under highly disinterested circumstances? If you took a moment to find out who these people are and what they’re looking for then you could make sure that your CV speaks to these people. Each of them has different reasons and different things they’re looking for, but they all share one thing in common: none of them want to read your CV.

In my free 30 day email course on career hacking for penetration testers, I talk about who these three types of people are, what they want and how you can write to them to make sure that they don’t have to read your CV, just the relevant parts. That’s not all though, the course also walks you through hacking your career whether you’re just starting out or thinking about a change. It’s written with penetration testers in mind, but if your only thoughts of jobs involving penetration are less than pure, the broader career advice is just as relevant.

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