Shocking experience with young people’s job applications

Recently, I was a hiring a part-time assistant. Such positions are usually attractive for young people and university students who might learn something new, gain experience and earn some money. Plus the job offers quite a good flexibility to handle all the other duties they have. I posted a job ad on the biggest Czech job portal, and the CVs started to arrive.
This is where the shocking experience started. Despite all the articles about CVs, thousands of templates for Word, recommendations, interviews with recruiters from big companies, most of the CVs I received were a pure disaster. I have to emphasize that the position was about marketing. However, the applicants were not even able to present (sell) themselves. I wonder what/whom they will blame for constant negative answers I assume they keep getting.

What are the biggest mistakes in the CVs?

1) Extremely bad document structure. Missing or incomplete information. Missing age, education, previous employers, social networks, etc. The documents are often messy and difficult to read. Majority of the recruiters search for the candidates' social networks anyway. Why not not make it easier and include the LinkedIn or Twitter profile link?
Funny examples:
One of the applicants listed his family members on the top of his CV. Why in a world would some mention his millennialsmother/father/brother/sister in his own CV? Are they applying for the job as well?
Another applicant started his list of experience with a driving licence. Really? This is what matters the most for a marketing position?
2) Unclear previous job duties. Employers/recruiters know that young people or university students do not have years of experience behind them. That is totally ok. However, it is important to mention what you learned within the jobs you had. You can include more details, but they need to be well structured.
3) Calling yourself an expert. During a different hiring process, we were searching for a programmer. A young man sent his CV. He just finished university education and obviously did not have much practical experience. Despite that, he called himself an “expert” in programming. This was a very bad sign, and we rejected his CV right away. It felt way too self-confident and in such a young age even arrogant. Later, after several other interviews we returned back to this young man’s application, and invited him for an interview because his education fit our needs. Everything went well; we hired him, and we are still very satisfied with his performance.
The point to take from this story is that a single improper word can make a difference between rejection and invitation. Especially for attractive positions where the recruiter receives hundreds of applications. Do not call yourself an expert. This is what others should call you after you have accomplished something big. There are more neutral words if you really need them, e.g. a specialist. It is still better to state “I created a plugin xyz with 5,000 code lines in C++.” rather than stating “I am an expert in C++”.
Young people and students should especially highlight their potential and willingness to learn new stuff. If you have previous working experience, even a short one, it is worth mentioning it in your CV with at least one sentence about what new you have learned. Let your work speak for you and avoid superlatives. Other people should praise you, do no not do it yourself too much.
curriculum vitate - hiring4) Poor cover letter. This might cause instant rejection. When you apply for a job in a small company, you most likely communicate directly with the owner. In a small company, every person is extremely important, and there is only little redundancy. If the employee does not do the job (right), it would most likely end up on the owner’s desk who is overwhelmed already. For this reason, small business owners have to be very careful about new hires. Their success and the company growth is in stake.
One of the cover letters stated: “I am a student, and I could use some extra money from this job.”
Do you think this would ever work? Recruiters do not care about the applicants’ problems; we all have our own. What recruiters and business owners want to hear is, how the applicant can handle the offered job and how the company will benefit from hiring him or her. This is so frequently repeated advice that it is hard to believe some people still only speak about themselves.


Finding a job is about selling (presenting/marketing) yourself. Selling implies competition! Keep that in mind. How can you distinguish yourself from all the other applicants? Is your CV easy to read and complete? Can the recruiter understand your previous positions? Explain why you think you are a good fit for the position and for the company. Present yourself in such way that will explain benefits of hiring you to the recruiter. “Earning extra money” is not a benefit for your employer!
Good Luck!
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