How not to write and mail a CV

In recent months I had occasion to read, translate and/or edit a good number of CVs of professionals in the fields of writing, education, hi-tech, translation, and more. A few were superbly written and formatted. But most suffered from at least one problem. I've addressed this issue before, in my post "Who cares when you were born" (published May 2008). But it's been a while, I have a few more suggestions, and the subject is worthy of re-addressing. So here goes:

  1. DO NOT name your file CV-translator.doc, or CV-English.doc . Isn't this obvious? With so many of you giving your file the exact same name, how is the employer or agency to know which is which?
  2. Always check File > Properties and include ONLY relevant information. You'd be surprised what the Properties tab can reveal about you.
  3. Sign your cover letter/email with your full name rather than "Best regards, Moshik"
  4. Avoid adding cute but irrelevant hobbies or studies that are there just to show off that you're a well-rounded personality rather than the stale bookish sort. The fact that you studied acupuncture in China has little to do with the skills required of a magazine editor, unless the magazine is all about acupuncture.
  5. Unless absolutely necessary or relevant, do not include your marital status and number of kids. It's no one's business. Definitely do not write "Mother of one wonderful son / talented daughter"; you're applying for a job, not a matchmaker's list of eligibles.
  6. Avoid cutesy graphics under your name/signature /name and address. Unless you're applying as a graphic artist for illustrating kids' books.
  7. Update your CV before sending it! Sending a CV in August 2011 with a file name March 2008 is not very attractive. Even if the changes in the text itself are minute, change the date of the file.
  8. Do you really think your potential employer cares when your birthday is and how many kids you have? True, some companies, especially Israeli manpower agencies (hevrot hasama) demand that you write all those details up-front, including your ID number, army ID number, car registration number, national insurance code, which health fund you belong to, your shoe size and your preference in muffins (crucial to stocking the company kitchenette.) But for most positions, these details are irrelevant and have no place on your CV. If you insist – relegate them to the end. (If you failed to impress the prospective employer, maybe he won't read to the bitter end.)
  9. Do not add links to your blog about your grandchildren, dogs, cats, cupcake baking, knitting, etc. It is irrelevant and unprofessional. (Unless you're applying for a job dealing with precisely these subjects.)
  10. Good luck!

Crimes and Misdemeanors – a random collection

Well, perhaps small crimes – against the language – and misdemeanors; the latter referring to writers’ not bothering to self-edit, proofread their work, and/or look up certain words and phrases.

I make allowances for bloggers (including myself, tee-hee), dyslectics, and plain old scatterbrains (again – like me.) Most bloggers I follow are quite strict with themselves and painstaking with their posts. As I’ve said before, a blog is neither a term paper nor a thesis and you write it and “get it out there” without too much delay, striking while the thought is fresh in your mind, the topic topical and your fingers itchy.

So here are some crimes against language that I came across recently:

  1. A Supergas leaflet (in Hebrew) offering travel/vacation-related items on discount, showed pics of bags, pointing out that they all have ידיות נסיעה … Merely transliterating does not quite capture it: yadiot ne’siaa. As spelled in the leaflet, it means "travel handles"; whereas the correct spelling of the idiomatic phrase, ידיות נשיאה , means carrying handles.
  2. A bottle of Neutragena Sesame Body Oil has a Hebrew label stuck on top of the original English instructions for use. After applying the oil, you should pat your body lightly with a towel rather than rub it off, is the general idea. The Hebrew says you should dry yourself בתפיחות מגבת… In transliteration: be’tefihot magevet. But the Hebrew misspelling makes it meaninglessly funny, something like “with a puffing/swollen towel.
    I actually wrote to the Israeli distributor, who said they were made aware of the mistake after the printing, and will correct it in the next printing. No idea how often they print these labels, of course.
  3. Several weeks ago, a terrible road accident occurred: A young couple whose car had a flat tire pulled over to change the tire, and were hit and killed by a passing truck, whose driver stopped briefly then fled the scene. The police issued a statement calling on citizens who may have witnessed the accident or seen the truck to come forward, describing the vehicle (in the Jerusalem Post) as… “… a truck with a white crate.” Perplexed? The Hebrew-to-English translator obviously wasn’t familiar with the Hebrew expression argaz (literally, box or crate) which refers to the body of the truck (as opposed to the driver’s cabin.) Since this news items appeared on the front page, I’d have expected the copy editor to catch it.