Top 6 CV mistakes
In today’s ultra-competitive job marketplace, it’s vital that your CV absolutely nails it. But recruiters still complain that a surprisingly large number of CVs are only fit for filing in the bin. Check and double-check that your CV doesn’t include any of the following errors, and you should stand out from the crowd – for all the right reasons.
1. Spelling mistakes
The number one no-no, for obvious reasons. You’ve got a spell checker – so use it! Basic errors like ‘there’ instead of ‘their’ will also immediately put recruiters off. If grammar isn’t your strong point, recruit a second pair of eyes to look over your CV for you.
2. Reliance on clichés
Avoid phrases like ‘works well independently,’ or ‘team player.’ You may be telling the truth – but as most people also use these phrases on their CVs, they’re meaningless as far as employers are concerned. Other cliches guaranteed to make recruiters cringe include ‘proactive,’ ‘good communicator,’ and ‘hard working.’
3. Sweet little lies
‘What we expect from someone’s CV is for that to be a true reflection of them as an individual,’ says Meeta Sahni, MD of London recruitment agency The Maine Group. ‘Do your research but be authentic.’ While it’s important to research the organisation you’re applying to, and to tailor your CV accordingly, it’s also important to tell the truth. Don’t be tempted to say you’re a great golfer, for example, if the organisation has a golfing culture – but you’ve never so much as swung a club. Chances are you’ll get caught out at some point. Remember: if you have to lie to get the job, it’s probably not the job for you.
4. Telling not showing
Employers want to see evidence of your achievements. Instead of writing, ‘I’m a team player,’ prove it! Admittedly, it can be tricky for recent graduates with little work experience to demonstrate how they’ve worked successfully within a team – in which case, you need to think creatively. New research shows that headhunters are 60% more likely to look at CVs that demonstrate sporting excellence – and what better way to prove you’re a team player than by actually playing in one?
5. Waffling on
National Citizen Service (NCS) research suggests that recruiters spend just 8.8 seconds looking at a CV – so you need to be concise! ‘Employers always look at the most recent job first, then the last bit of the CV,’ says business coach Zena Everett. ‘This is what makes people stand out. With everything you include on your CV, you need to think, “Why am I telling them this?”’ Tailor your CV to each job you’re applying for, making sure every piece of information on there is relevant, and keep your CV to a page-and-a-half at most. It’s fine to include hobbies so long as they’re relevant and a good fit for the organisation to which you’re applying, but if your hobby is ‘reading’ or something equally generic, leave it off.
6. Fussy presentation
Although you do want to grab the recruiter’s attention, you’ll catch their eye for all the wrong reasons if you write your CV in a jaunty font (sans-serif fonts like Calibri or Ariel are best), use a confusing layout, or include graphics. Whatever you do, don’t include a photograph of yourself – it’s an unnecessary distraction. Keep everything streamlined, straightforward and easy to read.