5 things to absolutely, definitely leave off your CV

I’m going to be honest- the title to this blog is a bit misleading, but I wanted to grab your attention and get you to want to read on (much like you want to with your CV).  The truth about CVs is that they are very subjective.  What I like or want to see on a CV, someone else won’t like or want to see.  It’s a really personal thing, and you can’t play to everyone.  However, you can play to the majority by following some of the advice I’m going to be providing over this series or ignore it at your peril!

Before I start, I think it is important to add this caveat.

My advice is based on recruiting to the Social Housing market over the past 15 years, and so the advice is particularly relevant to that market.  It is based on what has worked with my clients, from feedback from clients and candidates and knowing the drivers within that industry.  That’s not to say it won’t work elsewhere-it will in the main, but there are always exceptions (e.g. a graphic designer CV will be much better suited to demonstrate their design skills with graphics etc, but that isn’t as necessary for a Housing Officer).

With that covered, lets crack on with our list of what to leave off your CV but seem intent on including:

  1. Personal Details– Before I lose you immediately, I don’t mean name and contact details etc, I mean “personal”, personal details. Within this I include:
    1. NI number
    2. Date of Birth/age
    3. Marital status or number of children
    4. Race/ethnicity
    5. Health statement
    6. Political or religious affiliation
    7. Hobbies (unless relevant to the role)

None of this is relevant to your employer at this stage, and can lead to possible discrimination in the recruitment process (or worse still, fraudulent use of your personal information if found on a Job Board).

  1. Photograph– I know it is common place in Europe, but even pre-Brexit, it is not required on our CVs. Firstly, it doesn’t help someone decide if you are suitable for a particular role, and it can again lead to unjust discrimination.  (Also, it puts me at a disadvantage, as I am not very photogenic- see below)IMG_2040                                                 Who would employ this!!?!?
  2. References– we see this a lot, but there are a few issues with this. Firstly, it often takes up valuable space, that would be better served “selling you” to the employer.  Secondly, if you put your current employer on there (and they don’t know you are looking), the employer may take it as an open invite to contact them for a quick assessment of your abilities….and get you in to hot water!  And a third reason is that the unscrupulous recruitment agencies will use it as a way of adding new contacts to their database (and all of a sudden your friendly referee is getting hounded by agencies!)
  3. Reason for leaving– It is very difficult to convey a reason for leaving concisely, and is also open to mis-interpretation. This is much better being kept to a conversation in the interview.
  4. Jokes/humorous comments– (e.g. I have been a long-suffering Aston Villa supporter/I play golf (badly) etc- I love a joke as much as the next man (perhaps more), and I have laughed at some comments on CVs that were very funny, but you are playing to a very niche market there. Also, you are relying on the person reading it, to understand the tone/meaning.  A CV is a professional document and should be presented as one- save the jokes for the interview!

There are others that I could include, but these are the most common ones that I see, but I’d welcome your feedback as I’m sure some of the above may be contentious.

Barry Forsythe is Manager of Greenacre Midlands Division,  overseeing the Executive/Senior Level candidacy and vacancies across the East & West Midlands region. Barry has worked in recruitment for over 16 years and works alongside organisations to deliver advice, insights and experience to housing and associated industry professionals throughout the UK.

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