Next time you prepare to send out your CV in application for an exciting banking or financial services job, stop. Step back. Your CV may be doing you a disservice. Financial services recruiters say they're frankly swamped with CVs which they're disposing of straight away. If your CV is toxic, it will be relegated to the waste disposal area and may jeopardize your future chances with a hiring manager.
Here's how to detoxify the document which should be your entry-point into a new role but may be contaminating your entire job search. Among other things, do not be vague, do not be desperate, and do not lie.
Obvious, but true: bad spelling will ensure your CV is dinged. "It's hard to take a CV with typos or multiple spelling mistakes too seriously." said Logan Naidu at recruitment firm Dartmouth Partners.
Solution: Use the spell check.
Recruiters' biggest complaint now is that they are inundated with CVs which are completely irrelevant for the roles individuals are applying for. "There is far more supply than demand," said Dan McCarthy, director of search firm One Search. "There's a huge swarm of candidates descending on any job that's advertised and if they don't tick all the boxes - if candidates don't send CVs which are an almost precise match to the role we're advertising, we can't help."
Solution: Do not bother applying for a job as a renewable energy M&A banker when your background is in healthcare.
Another problem is the whiff of desperation that comes from the CVs of mid-ranking and senior bankers who are so eager to get back into the market that they are willing to take on junior roles.
"You get guys who've been laid off at vice president and director level six months ago and who are applying for jobs as associates," says McCarthy. "This makes it difficult for us as recruiters - there's a feeling that although an individual may be willing to sell themselves short, a client isn't going to hire them," he added.
Solution: If you're prepared to take a role that's more junior than the last one, don't apply through recruiters - try networking your way in instead.
If you've been out of the market, say so. If you left your degree halfway through because of health issues, make this clear on your CV.
"Quite a few people claim on their CVs that they've been working on ‘consultancy projects’ when you know that they've been sitting out of the market," said Russell Clarke, partner at search firm Figtree. "It's fine to not be in work if you have what it takes to be the most successful person in your new job. The principle behind a CV is that it needs to be factual and informative. Generic terminology and consultant /management speak aren't relevant and may suggest you're camouflaging true abilities and motivations for not working. Above all, be confident in your abilities and relevant experience - the candidates with the best abilities do not always have to validate themselves by demonstrating 24/7 employment."
Solution: Be super-factual. Don't dissemble. Don't be vague to disguise hard truths.
Some CVs involve incredible claims that undermine their owners, said Clarke. For example, a salesman who claims to have 200 clients with whom he deals regularly is almost certainly employing a degree of exaggeration.
"The person short listing for interviews can only devote a certain amount of time to a CV and will focus on those which appear credible," Clarke points out. "Bear in mind that most hiring managers will have done the role you're applying for and will therefore be in a position to judge whether your claims are accurate," he adds. "In my experience, exposing a small misleading fact in someone’s CV results in disproportionate disappointment and over shadows the positives elements of their candidacy."
Solution: Be strict with yourself. Assume the mindset of a skeptical recruiter, delete anything which seems dubious.