With employers receiving a large number of CVs for their vacancies, it’s no surprise that jobseekers often end up falling into a certain category – whether it’s based on what they’re looking for, their experience level, or simply their chosen jobseeking method. But which one are you, and how can you ensure you stand out from the crowd (and/or avoid falling into an unwanted stereotype)?

Here are seven of the most common types of jobseeker (along with advice on how you can make the best of your situation), courtesy of James Reed’s best-selling book, The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview.:

The Spammer

Characteristics: A spammer sends the same CV to every job advert that seems remotely applicable to them, often multiple times a day.

Good/Bad Points: By the law of averages, they may strike lucky. Yet, due to their indiscriminate approach, they’re unlikely to win the job they really want (assuming that they know what it is) and are highly likely to be disappointed.

Your Tactics: Employers want to feel as though the job they’re offering is the only one in the world you’d really love to do. Even more importantly, you need to show you could do it better than anyone else who applies, and an indiscriminate approach won’t give you the chance to do that. So stop the mass emailing, and start  tailoring your CV.

The Undercover Agent

Characteristics: Feels embarrassed about promoting their achievements, hiding them so skilfully in their CV that it ends up resembling an undercover exercise that would make MI5 proud.

Good/Bad Points: The only benefit of this approach is that it won’t come across as arrogant. However, most recruiters don’t have time to excavate a candidate’s most valuable qualities. They want to be told up front.

Your Tactics: Value yourself. If you don’t know what makes you a great candidate, how do you expect a recruiter to? So be bold and specific in your writing, highlighting your most notable skills and achievements in your CV.

The Job Hopper

Characteristics: Has had more jobs than they can count, resulting in a CV resembling the inventory at a pick ’n’ mix stall.

Good/Bad Points: Their experience is diverse and they are clearly very good at applying for, and being offered, the jobs they want (or they wouldn’t have had so many). However, they’ve never stayed long enough in a role to prove their worth, so have few substantial achievements to shout about in their CV. They can also appear unfocused.

Your Tactics: Perhaps it’s time for some self-examination, to try to figure out what you really want to do before you apply for another job. In the meantime, consider a skills-based CV format, rather than listing your jobs individually. And be ready to explain in your cover letter why you’ve been a job hopper. After all, there may be perfectly acceptable reasons why this is the case.


Characteristics: Literally too good to be true. Has already done absolutely everything the job requires, and has the credentials and qualifications to ‘prove’ it. What’s more, they’ve happened to achieve world peace in their spare time.

Good/Bad Points: No positives. They’re about to be rumbled, which can be seriously bad news. Fraudulent misrepresentation isn’t something you want to have on your record.

Your Tactics: Take out the lies. You’ll only be left feeling like  a fool in the job interview when you have to justify yourself – or if you get the job,, when you’re let go for not living up to expectations. Instead, try and value your real achievements and skills more highly. Most of the time, people falsify their credentials when they don’t think the real thing is adequate. If that’s genuinely the case, you’ll need to adjust your expectations. But if not, a positively worded CV based on facts is the best route.

The Newbie

Characteristics: Has just left school, with no work history beyond cleaning cars for the neighbours. Big dreams, small credentials.

Good/Bad Points: They’re young, energetic and grateful for any chance to prove themselves. But a recruiter has to take a massive shot in the darkon whether they’re worth interviewing or not, as their CV doesn’t provide  much to go on.

Your Tactics: Make the most of your qualifications and achievements, no matter how small. Anything from extracurricular activities and hobbies to part-time jobs and volunteering can demonstrate a wide range of transferable skills that could prove you’re a good fit. Additionally,  focus on exhibiting a positive mindset.. Showing you know what you’re aiming at and how you plan to contribute to the company is vital.

The Shape Shifter

Characteristics: Seeks a move into a different industry or role type, rather than the standard upgrade from their current job. This can involve moving up a level, career shifting, oreven down shifting.

Good/Bad Points: A career change isn’t easy, nor is it a spontaneous decision. Recruiters will acknowledge the thought and effort it takes to pursue something new, and will be attracted to their dedication, passion, and enthusiasm. However, because their experience is unlikely to directly link to the role on offer, figuring out whether they’d be a viable choice may be difficult.

Your Tactics: Think of your CV from a recruiter’s perspective. You’ll be up against candidates with more relevant experience than you, so give some thought to what format you use, and how you present your skills. Firstly, explain what has led you to a new path in your personal statement. Then, use your transferable skills to prove why you’re the perfect candidate for the role – referring back to the job description where possible.

The Emmental

Characteristics: Loves nothing more than a long break between roles, either by choice or necessity. This results in a CV with more gaps than jobs.

Good/Bad Points: On the plus side, the recruiter can feel confident this candidate has made a positive decision to apply for the role. However, repeatedly leaving jobs without another to go to can appear at best unreliable, and at worst suspicious.

Your Tactics: Any recruiter will want to know ‘why the holes?’ You may have perfectly good reasons for them – whether it’s that you took on caring responsibilities, had an unexpected family crisis, or you had a one-off difficult experience in a company – which are all  acceptable examples. But the worst thing you can do is try to hide them, because any experienced employer will sniff them out. So put the dates for the gaps in your CV and provide (brief) reasons for them, expanding further in your cover letter if necessary.  It’s also likely that you’ve gained some valuable skills during those fallow periods – and drawing attention to these is a great way to make your gaps seem like a positive thing

How to: Explain a gap in your CV

Final thoughts

Unless you classify as ‘The Newbie’, it’s likely you’ve been one or more of the above jobseeker characters at some point in your working life. .

But whatever your current jobseeker status, it’s important to ensure you’re avoiding the most common jobseeking faux pas – whether it’s forgetting to tailor your CV, lying, applying for a job you don’t really want, or any of the above negative characteristics – which could firmly put you in the ‘no’ list.

Remember: your aim is to  stand out against the competition, not blend in; and often all it takes is some extra care in your application to prove to employers you’re a good fit.

And no matter what , always check your spelling.