As hiring managers are inundated with applications, sifting through CVs has become a process employers are skilled at. Many say it has become easier to eliminate weak applications because the stronger candidates clearly explain why they will be great people to hire.
This leads to a ruthless and simple point: if your CV contains mistakes, it will end up in the bin. It is not just spelling, grammar, and other apparent basics; there are many subtle mistakes for which you may have been given the benefit of the doubt a few years ago but will consign your CV to the trash today.
Set a standard for yourself: do not apply for a job until you are sure your CV avoids the following mistakes:
1. Omitting essential skills/responsibilities/achievements. The skills the role requires must be shown clearly on your CV. Prioritize those most relevant and mention them consistently throughout your CV. Remember, you only have 30 seconds to get the hiring manager’s attention.
2. Listing too many skills/responsibilities/achievements. It looks unfocused and unrealistic and reveals nothing about you.
3. Write work experience like a job description. Instead, focus on how you performed and demonstrate the benefits of employing you.
4. Waffle. Less most is more. Every word and sentence must have a purpose for the specific employer. If it’s not essential, remove it. Remember, your CV is the first evidence an employer has of your communication skills.
5. No bullet points. Do you write lengthy paragraphs describing each job? Don’t make it hard for the employer, or they’ll make it hard for you by ignoring your CV. Use bullet points with complete sentences.
6. Complex formatting, gimmicks, photos, shading, stylized fonts, colors. Please keep it simple: you don’t want to stand out for the wrong reasons.
7. Dates in the wrong order. Always state the most recent first: they will see your most recent experience as the most relevant.
8. Too long. Your CV should be a maximum of three pages, two pages ideally.
9. Leaving the best points of your CV to page 2 or beyond. Remember you only have 30 seconds to get the recruiter’s attention
10. Using jargon and abbreviations that only made sense at a previous job. Your language should always be simple.
11. Sending the same CV off to multiple roles. It would be best to tailor your CV to highlight the relevant points to the position you are applying for. (See point 1)
12. Not including a personal profile. With little time, Recruiters must understand who you are, the value you bring, and what you want in 30 seconds. Don’t expect them to read your CV and work this out thoroughly. Insert a personal profile, which sells you as a candidate and gives the employer a reason to want to read on.
13. Leaving gaps in your employment history. It arouses suspicion.
14. Including too much personal information. Do not include anything about your personal preferences or facts about you other than those required by the employer.
15. Inclusion of negative information. Reasons for leaving, poor exam results, etc, should be omitted. Your CV should be a positive document.
16. Including your salary. Leave this for discussion at the interview after you have had a chance to sell yourself.
17. Poor spelling and grammar. Read your CV aloud to check what you have written rather than what you THINK you have registered, or ask someone to prevent it, but don’t just rely on spell check. Also, watch out for American spellings.
If you avoid the mistakes above and spend a little effort tailoring your CV for each job, you stand a perfect chance of getting an interview. 9 out of 10 CVs have mistakes, so if you spend the time checking yours, there’s a good chance it will get to the top of the pile.