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Avoiding Unconscious Bias: CV Tips for Candidates

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Bias in the workplace has come a long way. Many companies now have strict diversity and inclusion policies and work hard to ensure all employees enjoy a sense of belonging. Leaders in this space often only accept blind CVs, have diverse hiring panels and are aware of potential unconscious biases.

For job applicants best practice is to remove as much room for bias or discrimination as possible at application stage. When applying for roles only include information that is relevant to the job you are applying for, for example work experience, skills, education etc.

Things that are irrelevant, but could cause unconscious bias, include marital status, sexual orientation, ethnicity and gender. In short, there is no need to include personal information on a CV.

If you’re unsure as to whether or not your CV has too much personal information, we’ve collated a list of things you should remove. Please note this advice is for anyone looking for a new role within the UK and Irish jobs market.

1.     Photo – suitability for a role should not be based on a person’s appearance and there is no need for any photo on your CV

2.     Age or date of birth – likewise your age should not deem you suitable or less suitable for a position

3.     Gender and marital status – companies are making an effort to change but statistics still show men are favored in senior roles. Remove any potential biases by omitting gender reference or marital status on your CV

4.     Address – it’s important to be honest about your location, particularly if an employer needs a local employee, but certain address or locations can incite unconscious bias. If your location is not important for the role, omit it and discuss instead at interview stage or when onboarding

5.     Hobbies and interests – “I like to go to the cinema on the weekends with my friends”, “I like to travel”. These are not adding any value to your CV. If you are to add this section, make sure it shows your character and if possible, boosts possible reasons you would be a great addition to this team/company. For example, if you are an avid gamer and are applying to work for a gaming company this would be worth noting.

6.     References details – instead simply advise “Available upon request” It is a GDPR issue to include other people’s information so never include a reference’s phone number or contact details. If you do give references, contact them, and make sure they are available (still working in that company) and happy to provide a reference for you.

What you should include:

When reading CVs, employers want to know you can do that job and that you have strong soft skills that will benefit the company. Along with the normal CV basics, you should include:

1.      Language levels – if you aren’t a native English speaker make your professional proficiency clear on your CV

2.      Visa status – as necessary, for example stamp 4 exp 01/01/21 (renewable). – (Eligibility to work in the market)

3.      Personal Summary / CV bio – outlining your key strengths and professional achievements, the reasons you are applying to this company and this role.

4.      Explain Gaps – If you have gaps on your CV briefly explain why, our CV handbook has a section on this

5.      Specific Dates: mm/yyyy why? In relation to what – job experiences or?

Be positive

It is really important to give a good impression and avoid negativity. Never list anything bad about a company or colleague on a CV or during a job interview.

A negative attitude won’t leave a good impression and will remove the focus from your skills and suitability for the role. Always maintain a professional approach, be open to different opportunities and learn from any mistakes made along the way.

Keep your focus on facts, figures and results and you’re much more likely to be called for an interview. At this stage, the employer will be able to see your personality and values shine though.

If you’d like to learn more about CV writing and CV tips you can download our CV handbook. You can also get in touch, I’d be happy to advise – particularly if you’re looking for a role with language skills.