What your CV says about you

Interesting research just out that shows the language men and women use in their CVs is very different. Oleeo analysed 200,000 CVs and found that 90% of the top 10 words used in male CVs are powerful proper nouns and nouns, while just 68% of the top 10 terms on female CVs are such words.

Women are more likely to use words such as volunteer, assistant, organise, create, community and social, while equivalently qualified men are more likely to use stronger sounding words such as engineer, analyst, technology, investment, business and leadership.

The study also found that female candidate CVs tend to be longer and use a greater variety of words. The point the authors made was that gender bias could come into play even if the CVs are anonymised. Do you think your gender would be obvious from your CV?

This is very interesting and definitely rings true for me as I think all of the example words used by women are on my CV! Armed with this knowledge, I’m going to redraft my CV to have more powerful nouns in it! and I’m going to tell ALL of my girlfriends to do the same.

Not to pretend to be a different character but instead to shake my own pom poms! :tada:

Too much passive language isn’t doing anyone any favours.

Thanks @Belinda_Booker !!

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You go, girl! :wink:
What upsets me about this study is that I always thought words like ‘create’, ‘volunteer’ and ‘organise’ were really positive words. Will have to start thinking more like a man…

Maybe there is a perfect balance half-way between the two styles!


I still think “organise” is a positive word, but for some reason “volunteer” is looked down upon. My friend’s wife, an HR exec and one of those people who hires others, told me that by saying that you’ve worked “for free,” the impression is that you will pretty much do anything you’re told. While it took me a while to grasp that logic (if there was any), it becomes a case of joining the unbeatable.

Definitely use “manage,” “spearhead,” and “direct” as verbs or in their noun form…just my 2 cents.

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I’m really surprised about that. To me volunteering is a massive positive. I wrote a CV for my friend and detailed some volunteering work she’d done. She got the job and later found out it was because of the volunteering - I guess it might also depend on who is looking at the CV (man or woman)?

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I think that has something to do with it (who’s looking at the CV)…or maybe the type of organization. I have my volunteer experience listed on mine, but under a much more flowery term : “Humanitarian Work” :wink:

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We have an organisation in Wales who has evidence that the tone and language of a JD can influence the sex of a candidate. An intersting angel to explore

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Absolutely. I guess it could also influence other demographics such as age, nationality, religion etc. An employer could indirectly discriminate through their advert. Studies have also shown that using a foreign sounding name can reduce your chances of getting an interview.

It’s something that both me and my business partner have struggled with (Indian names), which is why we went out on our own.

I had a short contract with a University where HR would edit a candidate’s CV to just display the initials (and in some cases, also removing the post code) before passing it along to the department/faculty where the candidate was applying. That extra layer resulted in a lot more “qualified” candidates getting interviews.

Of course, it is the largest university in Canada, where something like that can be done rather easily. Small organizations can’t really afford to do that, and very few people would send their CV in without actually putting their full name at the top.

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That’s a great idea. Maybe there’s some kind of job application software companies could use that provides the applications with identifying numbers rather than names?