Career Management

Your CV is an important part of your armoury when looking for a job. It has to look good and be as close as possible to the job description to get you through to the next stage. As one of the first documents that someone will ask for to represent your capabilities, your CV should be completed with focus, time and care.

If you’re guilty of any of the below 15 CV mistakes, you’re probably costing yourself some great interviews:

1. Bad formatting

Your CV should be formatted perfectly. It should be consistent throughout in terms of bullets, text and margins. Your CV should be readable on a mobile device as well as on a computer screen; so ensure it displays perfectly for both. Saving it as a PDF is a great way to ensure it is easy to read on tablets and phones. There is no excuse for untidy, inconsistent formatting. Check once, and then double check this!

2. No contact details

These should be clear, correct and visible. Perhaps they could be in a header to ensure they are easy to find if the pages are not kept together.

3. Too many pages

The ideal length of a CV is two pages.

4. Jam-packed paragraphs

Your CV should be split up clearly with bullet points. HR professionals and recruiters want to read the relevant information quickly and easily, and will not waste hours reading through long scripts.

5. Hidden information

Your CV needs to match as closely as possible to the job description or job requirements. Often CVs are selected via key words so the words that appear on your ideal job description should also (if you have the experience) appear on your CV.

6. A rush-job

Rushing to produce a CV without really thinking through and analysing what it is that you want to do next. Take your time to analyse yourself; self-awareness and knowing what you want and are suited to should be your first step before producing your CV. Real freedom to choose and some control over what you now want must involve some self-awareness work first. My book What to do next? is a practical exercise book which can help you with this (available on Amazon).

7. Wordy profile statement

Your profile statement needs to be short, strong, snappy and not generic. They need to be objective. In one or two sentences summarise and emphasise your key attributes, experience and your intended future career path.

8. No summary of skills

These should be clearly visible, don’t hide them. Some people like the top part of their CV to look like a snap shot of your experience. Your skills should be bulleted and separated and can appear under your profile statement so the reader can quickly see them.

9. Inconsistent, incorrect tenses

I often see CVs where the starting word is in the wrong tense. If you are currently working there, it should read, for example: Reviewing, Liaising etc. If, however, it is a previous role, it should read: Reviewed, Liaised. It’s an obvious one, but I see it on almost every CV that crosses my desk. Perhaps this is because people update their CV as they go, and don’t necessarily go back to change old roles.

10. Overuse of one particular word

Again a regular mistake that I see. People often have one word that they repeat over and over again – watch out for this, it is often the first word of your responsibility bullet points. Ask a couple of people to read through and check your CV for you.

11. Omitting relevant qualifications/training/courses

Often people miss internal training or courses that they have done in the past. List all of them.

12. Failure to quantify things

A great way to add strength to your bullet points is to add numbers and percentages. What did you do, what was the outcome, can you quantify it?

13. Unorganised bullet points

I prefer CV’s that have clear bullet points for each position. They can be easily read and are clear. Even within those bullet points think about which ones are at the top. The first two bullet points position you. Think about which are most impressive or most relevant to the job you are applying to and put them first.

14. Lack of tailoring

For those good important jobs that you really want make sure you tweak your CV and pull out the most relevant experience and information that you can. Change the order of bullets, add figures. Go through the job specification and match your CV as closely as you can to it.  Take time over this.

15. No references

Have them. Either references on request or list the names of two individuals you have asked at the bottom of your CV.

fixing these problems in your Cv will help a great deal with your job search, however you should also make sure your social media profiles match the calibre of your CV. Make sure your Linked In profile gets just as much attention. The two will work together and these days both need to be strong. Also, be careful not to use too much jargon and simplify your language where possible. Some industry jargon is necessary for key word searches, but try to stay away from inter-company jargon all over your CV – it will only alienate the reader.

Finally, don’t forget to do your research. Find out as much as you can about the company you’re applying for; the culture, job description, their social media presence. Try to gain a true understanding of what they are looking for before you apply. Decide then if that is what you want and if the answer is yes, tailor your CV with your relevant experience and attributes to match that.

About the author: Charlotte Billington is a career coach who helps individuals at a crossroads. She has recently written a practical exercise book What to do Next? (available on Amazon) that can assist and guide you through the process of changing jobs, understanding and maximising your own potential.


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