How to stop your CV from scoring an own goal

Your CV. A document that demonstrates that you’re an essential new hire  - and will make employers say “WOW”and offer you your dream job. Or is it?

A CV helps us to promote ourselves and show off our best facets - a must if you want to get on in your career. Modesty, like overconfidence, has no place here (so tread this line carefully!) So fire away, get pen to paper and tell the world why you’re such a great team player, an innovative thinker or a super-duper leader. Shout from the rooftops about your creative approach to problem solving and dedicated and tenacious approach to work. All good, right? Well, possibly not - and here’s why:

CVs need to reflect you, your skills and your experiences and abilities accurately. Sometimes, CVs include statements that candidates find hard to substantiate when they arrive at a job interview. (I have seen this countless times working in HR departments and still see it regularly as an interview coach).

Here’s an example: Let’s say a candidate has cited their ‘superb leadership skills’ within their CV. When I ask this candidate to elaborate or provide an example that support this statement, many struggle to produce cohesive, compelling and convincing responses. Some are too general, others too longwinded and sometimes there’s radio silence. Often, these candidates may not get the job they want, and here’s why:

A) The statement ‘superb leadership skills’ is accurate, but the candidate hasn’t thought about evidence to support this (demonstrating a lack of preparation or perhaps over selling oneself).

B) The statement ‘superb leadership skills’ isn’t accurate, meaning the candidate appears to have bent the truth.

C) The CV has been written by a third party. They have used stock phrases that don’t accurately represent the individual, their skills or their experiences - resulting in one or both of the above scenarios.  

This hurts because it compromises your credibility. On the one hand you may appear untrustworthy. On the other you may appear honest, but unable to communicate. Even if it’s the lesser of these two evils, poor communication during a job interview is hugely detrimental to your chances of getting the job you really want. If you can’t communicate in the interview, why should you be expected to communicate more effectively in the workplace? When you’re with your manager? In a meeting? Making an important point to a colleague? Training a new staff member? Or talking to the CEO about an important project?

You get where this is going….So, don’t let your CV get you into trouble during a job interview. Here’s how to dodge the bullet:


Start by reflecting upon your experience. What skills, competencies or behaviours have you genuinely used or demonstrated in the past? Don’t add points that aren’t true or are inaccurate.


Back your statements up by thinking of evidence that can support them - feedback from managers or colleagues, for instance.


Try and anticipate employers reviewing your CV and creating competency and behavioural based interview questions off the back of the statements you have made. Claiming to be a team player? Then expect a question like “Tell me about a specific occasion when you worked as part of a team to achieve a common goal. What was the role that you played, and how did it contribute to successfully achieving your aim?” Make sure you use the STAR framework to produce a structured, cohesive and compelling response.


Planning on having a CV made for you? Don’t use an automated service that generates generic CVs online. Find an experienced individual or organisation who is willing to invest time speaking to you before creating a document. Check credentials beforehand, ask for a free consultation first and don’t pay upfront unless there’s a 100% money back guarantee.


Come to Clear Cut Selection for help. An interview coaching session can show you where improvements to your CV can be made, help you anticipate tough interview questions and teach you how to develop cohesive, powerful and impactful responses that will successfully sell you during an interview and win potential employers over!!!