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Writing your CV as a student or graduate is tough – Googling ‘what should I include on my CV’ and being overwhelmed with choices. As you’ve probably heard, a hiring manager can look at a CV for as little as 7 seconds when considering your job application (the same length as your attention span on TikTok). So, make a good first impression. Bin these 5 words or phrases that could ruin your CV or risk getting rejected!

Avoid Describing Yourself As Creative Or Passionate 

Creative, passionate, hardworking, team player, motivated and flexible are possibly the most overused words EVER when writing a CV, avoid being a basic b*tch. If every single other applicant has also used these words to describe themselves, your CV won’t stand out. And trust us, we’ve looked at enough student and graduate CVs to know that they’ve probably used at least one if not all of them

The only exception to this is when the job description specifically lists these (boring) words. However, you don’t just want to list them all under a skills header, as this doesn’t actually prove you possess the skills. Why not look into synonyms of those common words 

Think about it – the worst communicator in the world could write ‘communication’ under a skills header and the hiring manager wouldn’t know the difference between them and you when reading through your CV… UNLESS you integrate the skills within your experience section using our SAR method to showcase your impact and give context to prove it instead. Boom.

You can also use online tools such as Power Thesaurus to help you find more niche synonyms to accurately describe your attitude and skill set when writing up your personal profile or experience. Go on, add some personality. 

Stop Listing ‘Responsibilities Included’ In Your CV’s Experience Section

Writing ‘responsibilities included’ often leads to you just listing duties or tasks (e.g. ‘operated till’, ‘answered the phone’) but don’t worry, we’ve all been guilty of this one before. 

Listing your responsibilities on your CV gives the hiring manager an idea of what you did, but doesn’t show them all the skills you used (for example answering the phone involves communication and customer service) or the impact your actions had (such as increasing customer loyalty or booking in 20+ daily appointments). Even if the hiring manager just gives the page a scan, this is guaranteed to make a better first impression if they can immediately pick out your skills and results.

Don’t Include ‘References Available On Request’ 

You’ve probably seen this sentence on every single CV template you’ve ever downloaded, and in all honesty it’s pointless. The hiring manager knows this already, and by removing the phrase from your CV, you could be saving valuable space. For more excellent space saving tips (if we say so ourselves) check out our article on How To Get A 1 Page CV.

Avoid Repeating ‘Assisted’ or ‘Helped’ 

Just as with creative and passionate, words like ‘assisted’ and ‘helped’ are way too generic (and quite boring, let’s not put anyone to sleep here). Use strong verbs such as ‘developed’, ‘increased’, ‘collaborated’ or ‘executed’ in your experience section instead to give context to your actions. And make you sound like a boss.

Remove ‘Proficient in Microsoft Office’ From Your Skills Section

Can you tell us the definition of ‘proficient’ without Googling it? You just read it in that same old CV template and thought “yeah, that sounds good I’ll add it in”? We hate to be the ones to break it to you, but chances are you’re not proficient in Microsoft Office if the last time you used a spreadsheet was a Year 8 IT lesson. Unless you know each programme inside out (and could prove it during the interview), it’s best to leave it off at risk of major embarrassment. 

Another quick tip for writing up your hard skills on a CV is to give some indicator of your skill level. This could be visuals if it’s a creative CV, but it’ll be easier for you to add on ‘2+ years’ or ‘50+ hours’ next to Microsoft Excel if you are actually proficient. This will help your CV stand out as it’s less of a risk to the hiring manager if they already understand your ability. 

How To Get Help With Writing Your CV

Free CV Guide

So, when you remove these 5 words or phrases from your CV, what are you left with? A far clearer and more impressive job application for starters, and certainly one that will go further than the standard copied and pasted one you were using before. No shade.

Want to check if your CV will stand out to the hiring manager during those initial 7 seconds? At The Grad Soc we offer Virtual CV Reviews with a 48 hour turnaround, so you can stop Googling how to write a CV and start getting interviews. 

We also have a Free CV Guide (because who doesn’t love a freebie) designed to help students and graduates land that dream job. What are you waiting for? Go and smash it. 

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