When it comes to your CV, every word counts.
However, with competition for the top roles increasing, even the simplest mistake could be enough to make or break your application.
To avoid getting into any bad habits, here are a few things you definitely shouldn’t do with your CV:
Send the same CV every time
Here’s a very important and relevant fact: CVs are not one-size-fits-all.
Whilst it may be tempting to start sending as many applications as possible (a.k.a. ‘the scattergun strategy’), this approach will not increase your chances of success. In fact, it could end up having the complete opposite effect.
Without tailoring your CV and cover letter to the role in question, your application will be generic, and therefore not of value to the majority of hiring managers. Different recruiters want different things, and different roles require different skills. Without focussing on what they’re looking for, you’re missing out on the opportunity to sell yourself.
For the sake of taking a few minutes more, this is definitely an opportunity you should not be passing up.
Write too much
When writing a CV, some candidates are tempted to include as much information as possible in an effort to impress.
However, a well-written CV does not necessarily mean an overwritten CV. Remember: employers don’t have time to read through your life story. Keep it short, pertinent and to the point if you want your CV to be a success.
Think carefully about whether each line is absolutely necessary. If it’s not relevant, it’s not going to help you get the job. And if it’s not going to help you get the job, all it’s doing is drawing attention away from what you really want them to read.
Keep it to two pages (where possible) and cut down on the filler material.
Use generic language
Socialising with friends. Team working. Other bland attributes.
When you’re stressing to impress, CV clichés can be difficult to avoid. However, these stock phrases will only make you slip back into the crowd, not to mention strip your application of its individuality.
The use of certain bland language could even be a particular bugbear for some hiring managers. In a recent survey, one in three recruiters called ‘socialising with friends’ their biggest pet-hate phrase.
Add value to your application, and use adjectives and active verbs to help back up your achievements. ‘Successfully managed a team of X individuals’ not only sounds much better than ‘good team player’, it’s also far more likely to help get you hired.
Never underestimate the importance of presentation. It’s all very well getting all the words right, but if you haven’t displayed them in the right way a recruiter is unlikely to give your application the time it deserves.
Keep it simple. Avoid using anything too complicated in an effort to impress. Pictures, tables, graphs may look pretty (depending on your affinity to Microsoft Excel) but should be approached with caution. Not only do they take up valuable room, they’re also rather unreliable. If the formatting isn’t pulled through properly, it could make your CV appear unprofessional – even if it’s not your fault.
Choose a professional font, present things in a logical order, use bullet points where possible and embrace the white space.
Get sloppy with spelling
Over 50% of recruiters highlight poor spelling and grammar as their number one reason to lose faith in an application.
In fact, when it comes to making a tough decision over similarly qualified applicants, this could even end up being the direct reason for missing out on a role. Poor spelling makes you look unprofessional and unprepared – two qualities not generally desired by hiring managers.
No matter what stage of your career you’re in, never underestimate the importance of proofreading. Asking a close friend can also be a great way to catch any overlooked mistakes, and help take your application to the next level.
Re-reading: it’s impotent.
Forget your contact details
So you’ve written an engaging CV, put your personality across well and impressed the employer. Unfortunately, you haven’t included any way for them to contact you.
As surprising as it seems, this does actually happen. Some candidates spend so much time perfecting the finer points of their application, they simply don’t take care of the basics.
To avoid any potential missed opportunities, always check that you’ve put a relevant number or email address you often check on your CV (see underline). We’d even recommend making sure your details are the first thing you include. That way, a recruiter will know exactly how to contact you when they’ve made their choice.
Other things to avoid on your CV: The date, the words ‘Curriculum Vitae’ (recruiters know what it is), physical characteristics, irrelevant work experience, emoticons.
Need more CV advice?
It takes an employer just seven seconds to save or reject a job applicant’s CV. This means creating a succinct CV is absolutely vital if you want to land that all-important interview.
To find out how to make your CV stand out from the crowd, buy James Reed’s new book: The 7 Second CV: How to Land the Interview.
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