To cause the reader of your CV to despair, you need to understand how the recruiter thinks. May it be the HR personnel, or your technical future colleague, their goal is to hire smart, competent professionals, who will be successful at the job they are recruiting for.
To make them think you are NOT that person, you need to make it as hard as possible for them to see your great achievements.
- Lie in your CV. You don’t have to actively lie, just fail to mention achievements and significant milestones. For example, if in your first industry position your title was junior developer for the first two years and then you were considered the Tech Lead of your team, where for one year you led major projects, then just don’t mention that last part.
- Pepper your CV with meaningless phrases such as “I was working on this project for one year, and then the project was finished so I moved to another project”, without providing ANY technological details. Nothing brings more despair to the reader of a CV than reading text that has zero content in it, knowing they spent precious 4 seconds on your meaningless piece of non-information. If your goal is to have the dullest CV ever, you better include at least a couple of these phrases.
- Supply as many personal details as possible. Your family status, your birth date, your zip code, the name of your cat, anything that comes to mind. The more personal details the less room for actual valuable information (both on the page and in the reader’s attention).
- If you had any professional experience during your time in the academia, research experience or practical projects, list this experience under “education” and not under “professional experience”. The reader of your CV will be happy to learn that you spent some of your time in the academia doing actual learning that is relevant to the real world, and so hiding this experience under “education” will make the recruiter’s job frustrating, which is what we are aiming for here, folks.
- Whatever you do, DO NOT emphasize your significance to the projects you were working on. If for some reason you choose to mention in your CV an important and successful endeavour you took part in, DO NOT include yourself as a contributor to that success. Focus on how all the other team members did great, or better yet, leave the details section BLANK. The person reading your CV might look for people who can deliver big projects and you don’t want to be seen as such.
- Write as few details as possible on relevant past experience. For example, let’s say you are applying for a frontend developer position, and in your last job you did a 6-months frontend project, while your title was still “backend developer”. Then of course the best thing to do would be to just write this last position as “backend developer” and that’s it. But, if you foolishly choose to mention this frontend project, DO NOT, under ANY circumstances, supply ANY further details. Not about the technologies you used, not about your role in the project, and certainly not your responsibilities and contributions to this project’s success. We do not want the reader to accidentally think you have actual relevant background for this job.
- Write incomprehensible abbreviations and internal concepts. For example, let’s say you worked on a project where you developed a new data structure that contributed to the performance of the system, write “In project Xenedo, I made up a DS for X10 swiftness in FGG”. This will be a major setback for the reader when trying to understand your background, and hopefully will also make them feel uneager to know more about you.
- Use multiple fonts, multiple font sizes, preferably even multi colored text with doodles on the side where the space permits. A clean and visually clear CV will be easy to read, and easy to extract meaning from. If you fear you may have accidentally included positive details about yourself, you MUST disguise them with terrible eye-gouging design.
- If you do choose to include some meaningful details about your background, write them in the second or third page of your CV. Unless you have several major accomplishments written on the first page, NO ONE will EVER read beyond that page. Hence, sending a multi-page-CV, where the first page is clean from any good stuff about you, is your best chance of being overlooked as a relevant candidate.
The finishing touch every unreadable CV needs, is for it to be written NOT in English. Even if you don’t speak another language. Just use google translate. Hebrew, which is written from right to left, is a perfect example. The eye-twitches caused by the different reading directions, sprinkled with professional Hebrew concepts no one understands, will completely baffle your reader, and make it next to impossible for them to understand what a great candidate you actually are.
Your CV is your own, and you should feel comfortable with the story it tells of who you are as an employee and as a colleague. At the same time, every detail in your CV should have a clear answer to the question “how can this cause the reader to want to hire me for this job?”. Not easy.
The ideas brought here were collected from online resources, personal advice I received from HR and technical personnel, and from reading many readable and unreadable CVs. There comes a time when one should give back what one learned. Anyway, I hope I made the dreary task of reading CV advice somewhat entertaining.