Can Your CV Ever Be Too Good?

Hannah Staff

Hannah Staff is a freelance journalist and manages Brighton-based

Sussex University graduate and What’s Happening Magazine manager Hannah Staff explores the ethics of ‘downgrading’ your CV…

If you’re a recent graduate, it’s pretty safe to assume you’ll be looking to apply your degree to a related career. However, it’s always good to be mindful of what experience you choose to put down on your CV, as it can give away a lot about the long-term career you are planning on pursuing. 

If a potential employer suspects the job you’re chasing is merely a temporary stop-gap, why would they waste their time and resources trying to accommodate you? When it comes to the recruiters, don’t let someone read between the lines and determine your future. The process of applying to jobs is already a difficult one without being told that you are overqualified.

The concern that many have in ‘downgrading’ their CV is that it might not be ethical. This is the wrong attitude – you need to bear in mind that simplifying your résumé does not equate to lying. The most effective and honest approach is to streamline your experience into a list of bullet points, removing the emphasis from qualifications or experience if it isn’t needed.

Remember how arrogant you felt when you first wrote a personal statement? Re-introduce that modesty and look critically at your experience and the areas in which it can work both for and against you. This is not about deliberately omitting information, but instead presenting it in a manner which is appropriate for the role you’ve applied to. Also, you need to be clear on your reasons for applying and be prepared to communicate this to your employer.

Many applicants fill their CVs with experience but don’t bother to give much attention to their education. Be careful not to fall into this trap and don’t underestimate the value of a degree. University is much more than just a qualification – it’s a chance to experience independence, make new friends, see new places and create new opportunities.

Also, many employers will ONLY hire graduates, and a large amount of industries require specialised study at University level. More often than not, your degree will be of real benefit  – and, indeed, obligatory in your application. Ultimately, Universities and businesses need to work closer together to collaborate and match up students with employers to prevent the disconnect that is so frustratingly apparent – but that’s another story!

In the mean time, graduates should take time to tailor their CV to each job and target the exact requirements of the company being applied to – even if this does result in downplaying some of your strengths or experience in less relevant areas.

If you want to hear more from Hannah, you can check out her blog, or follow her on Twitter @hannahfstaff 

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