Writing an effective CV is crucial for one reason; to get an interview. Your CV is supposed to show recruiters and potential employers who you are and what you are capable of. In order to secure an interview, it has to be on point. There is no such thing as a perfect CV but you can definitely put a successful one together by avoiding the following most common mistakes job seekers usually make.
1. Not tailoring your CV to target employers
Before you do anything else, have a think about what your potential employers want to see on your CV. Do some research and find out what the most in-demand candidate requirements are for your desired role
2. Poorly structured job descriptions and incorrectly ordered roles
Keep your current role on the top and order your roles from the most recent to the oldest. In a few words describe the company you work for, where you sit in the hierarchy and what the overall goal of your role is. Showcase your skills, output and the work you carry out in bullet points, but keep it short and only include relevant information. Avoid big chunks of text as they more likely will scare off the reader the second your CV is opened. Keep your older roles short and include as much detail as possible in your current or most recent role.
3. Including unnecessary information
Including the reasons for leaving your previous jobs in each job description is pointless. You might want to consider including it in your cover letter, but in your CV try to sell your talents instead. Another mistake would be including your salary requirements and previous or current salary. Money doesn’t come into question at this stage, so it’s better leaving it for later for many reasons. For instance, you don’t want to settle for less just because you asked for less in your CV than what your potential employer could have offered otherwise.
4. Basic language and spelling mistakes
It might be a bit time consuming, but try to use precise terminology and well-structured sentences. This will show potential employers and recruiters that you are professional and have good communication skills. And I’m sure you’ve already heard this couple of times, but we can’t stress it enough; avoid spelling mistakes. Either proofread your finished CV yourself or show it to someone else before submitting it, because even the smallest typo could cost you an interview.
5. Messy structure and formatting
Structuring and formatting your CV accordingly takes only a few minutes and makes a huge difference. Stick to one simple font instead of elaborate and inconsistent fonts. Using colours in your CV could be in your favours but use them wisely and avoid crazy colours. Make your CV easy to navigate by defining clearly each section. A messy CV tells no good about the job seeker, so keep an eye on page transitions as well and insert page breaks where needed. However, try not to waste space or leave too much blank gaps either.
6. Unexplained gaps
Don’t let potential employers or recruiters make assumptions about what you’ve been doing between jobs. Whether you were taking time off for travelling or other personal reasons, it is always a good idea to mention it in your CV and make it clear that you’ve got nothing to hide.
One of the biggest mistakes that you could make is lying in your CV. You do absolutely no favours for yourself with embellishing achievements like adding made up work experiences or improved exam results. Wild unproven claims like ‘The best Architect in Europe’ and non-existent ARB registration in your CV won’t attract more employers and you can easily get caught.
8. Not showing your impact
The best way to get the attention of recruiters and potential employers is by showcasing the impact your work had on your previous employers, therefore giving an idea of your own value.
9. Clichés and third person narration
Your CV represents you, so you would want to send the best message possible. A CV full of clichés and written in third person narrative does exactly the opposite. Generic clichés like ‘Hard-working team player’ or ‘Forward thinker and can-do person’ won’t help you show who you really are. Instead, try to use examples of results you’ve achieved. Third person narration also sends the wrong message as it often sounds slightly arrogant and out-of-touch. So, stick to the first-person narrative that will certainly sound more genuine.
10. Poor file naming and ridiculous email address
Small details are easy to overlook, so keep this in mind. With a silly e-mail address like ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ or a poor file naming like ‘CV draft 5 (use this)’ employers will not likely take your application seriously. Your name followed by ‘CV’ and a professional email address would send a more inviting message.
11. Bonus tip
Only include hobbies if they are relevant to your desired role. I mean, who doesn’t like ‘spending time with friends and family’. But it certainly has nothing to do with your job application at this point.
Your CV shouldn’t be longer than two pages, so only include relevant information. Recruiters want to see important facts and they want it quickly, so keep it short and tidy. If you find it difficult to decide what’s important just ask yourself this one question: ‘Will this piece of information convince the hiring manager to interview me?’
Read more tips on how to write a good CV