11 CV Mistakes to Avoid
- 4th May 2017
- Posted by: Juan van Niekerk
- Category: Career Advice
Looking for a new job? Then the difference between having a good CV and having a bad CV could be the difference between your dream job or a one-way ticket to nowhere. There are, however, some mistakes you can avoid to ensure you get that job. Avoiding these simple mistakes can turn your CV from unprofessional to a recruiters dream application. Therefore, it’s important to have a well crafted CV.
Importance of a Well-Designed CV
- Tells your story
- Way of marketing yourself
- Shows you are determined
- Can differentiate you from other applicants
A CV is a personal statement about what you have done or achieved and can be used as a way of marketing yourself to potential employers. When putting a CV together, your objective is to get an interview. The best way to get an interview is to convince your future employer that you are worth their time. You need to show them that you’re determined to get this job and will be committed once you get it. Getting your CV ready is an important part of the job hunting process. On average, a recruiter might spend a total of 7 seconds looking at your CV. Therefore, having a polished CV is critical to getting separated from the masses of applicants.
However, having a sloppy CV with errors is a sure way of telling recruiters you don’t want the job THAT badly. Here’s an example of a “bad” CV so that we can show you what mistakes to avoid when you design your own CV.
A “Bad” CV
Although he did have some impressive facial hair, Ben’s CV is unfortunately not going to make the cut. He made a few classic CV mistakes that can be easily avoided. Here we will unpack the 11 CV mistakes to avoid when you design your CV so that you don’t end up like Ben.
- TMI: Too Much Information
- CVs that are too long
- No white space
- Unprofessional contact details e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org
As recruiters will initially scan your CV first, make sure not to put too much information. Your CV should be one or maybe two pages long. When adding in your personal information, avoid adding details that are deemed unprofessional as this mistake will not get you past the scanning stage. Personal details that are deemed unprofessional can include inappropriate email addresses, or even using someone else’s contact details or email address.
- Irrelevant Information
- Ben AKA “Indie28” Smith
- Marital status
- Jobs you’ve had that don’t relate to the job your applying for
Another way of ensuring your CV gets past the screening stage is to make sure you don’t submit any irrelevant information. Irrelevant information like a nickname or marital status is not something that is critical for recruiters to know. If 10 years ago you had a summer job in a restaurant and now you’re applying for a position in IT, this summer job experience is not relevant to the job you’re applying for now. Adding irrelevant information will only make your CV longer than it needs to be.
- No selfies, please
Depending on the location of the job, usually a photo is a no-no. In the UK, its preferred to not submit a photo with a CV. Some believe that photos could give a preconceived idea of the applicant which would allow them to be subject to bias.
- Not Checking Spell-Check
- Incorrect spelling and grammar
- Not proofreading is a rookie error
When crafting a CV, spell-check can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It can correct spelling errors, however, it can sometimes offer an incorrect suggestion for the spelling error. Often the incorrectly spelt word that you have replaced with the newly corrected word changes the meaning of the sentence completely e.g. “I speak fluent English and Spinach”. Spell-check cannot always check the meaning or grammar of your sentences. Even though your CV may appear to have no spelling errors, it’s important that you proofread it or even ask a friend to proofread it before you send it off.
- Incorrect Information
- False information about qualifications or previous jobs
A CV is an account of your achievements and should be interesting to read. However, fabricating false information about your qualifications or previous jobs is not going to get you far. Remember, we live in the 21st Century and information is traceable.
- Incoherent Formatting
- Simply listing skills is boring
- Not considering font and size of font
Simply listing your skills and achievements can be tedious to read. Consider the layout of your CV, for example, some people feel it is important to have your most recent qualification near the top of the page. You should design your CV as a way of marketing yourself. That means that you also need to consider the look and feel of the document. Consider the type of font you will use and try to make the size consistent throughout (except for headings of course). All in all make sure it is easy to read through, without being jumbled and incoherent.
- Not Considering Keywords
- Not using the right keywords
- Ending up with a CV that doesn’t stand out
You need to make sure that every word earns its place on the page. Recruiters can use search engines and recruitment platforms to find applicants, therefore, keywords are important. If you don’t consider these critical keywords, you could end up with a CV that doesn’t stand out. These critical keywords should be relevant to the industry you would like to enter. For example, incorporating irrelevant work experience into your CV can affect the keyword search for recruiters and your CV won’t stand out.
- Use of Slang
Your CV should paint a picture as to who you are as a person. If you would like your CV to be taken seriously, then take the time to use words that aptly describe who you are in a professional manner. Don’t let access to a thesaurus hold you back from showing how remarkable you are.
- Saving Your CV as CV
This is a mistake which is easy for anyone to make. It’s important to save your document as your full name e.g. BenjaminSmithCV.doc. Recruiters receive many CVs every day and so if yours isn’t labelled correctly, it could get tossed aside. This is because recruiters can’t separate your CV from the pile without opening the document and renaming it. It’s just time consuming. Also, it can be difficult to locate again if it is saved as “MyCV” and not your full name.
- Not Keeping Your CV Updated
- Using the same CV for every job
- Not adapting your CV to who you are targeting
Whenever you are applying for a new job you need to tailor your CV to the specific job you are applying for. This means that, if your CV contains any work experience that is irrelevant or it contains any keywords that can throw off a recruiters search, take it out. You cannot use the same CV you made for a job in Child Care and a job in Marketing. They require different formats and information. This also applies to updating your skill set and qualifications. If you have recently qualified in something that is relevant to your job application, this needs to be visible and perhaps near the top of your CV.
- Cutting and Pasting
- Cutting and pasting job descriptions into your CV
We’ve all got to that stage in editing our CV when we just want it to be done and we end up desperately scanning the internet for some glorious inspiration. However, as I mentioned earlier, everything is traceable. Cutting and pasting a job description into your CV is not only noticeable, it could be seen as lazy, which is not a good start to your career. Take the time to tailor your CV so that it meets the job requirements. This extra effort is what could mean the difference between being hired and unemployed.
Avoiding simple mistakes and taking the time to check your work is what can really set you apart from the competition. As the job market today is more competitive than ever, it’s critical to have an impressive CV. Remember your CV represents you. After reading your CV and walking away, think about how people will describe you. People don’t just want to read a bunch of facts about you, they want to hear your story so craft a narrative. Market yourself as a personal brand. There could be things about yourself that you take for granted that might be fascinating to someone else. So use your CV to your advantage and design a document that best represents you.