The 8 most common CV mistakes and how to avoid them

The 8 most common CV mistakes and how to avoid them

Writing a CV is not just about detailing all of your skills, qualifications and experience – there is much more to it. You have to provide a professionally written and relevant application if you want to get noticed, and with so many other great candidates you cannot afford to make a mistake.

What does a mistake on your CV say about you?

It says you are sloppy and prone to making errors. You potentially lack the ability to be consistent with your work and could cause issues!

Now, this sounds a little on the harsh side – but it’s true. Even with just the smallest of errors on your CV the employer is going to doubt the credibility of your entire application. It will not matter how qualified you are for the role if you are unable to submit an error free CV.

But what kind or mistakes do you need to avoid?

Out of 100 applications the employer is likely to see at least a third that contain spelling or grammatical errors – which is obviously very high. But rather than provide you with a list of obvious mistakes to avoid like this one, we decided to be more creative.

There are lots of other ways to make a mistake on your CV, and here are the 8 most popular and how to avoid them.

1. No bullet points

Not everybody uses bullet points on their CV – which is a huge mistake. The hiring manager wants to be able to read an application quickly and be able to find specific items, like tasks and responsibilities.

If you write long sentences and paragraphs explaining what you did for a previous company you are likely to bore the reader. Not only that, but you will be making it too difficult for them to find what they need. You should instead use bullet points to list things like tasks, and anything else which would make it easier to read (qualifications, educational grades and achievements).

2. Not tailored

Some people keep the same CV and simply update it year after year, sending it out to every job regardless of the role. This broadbrush approach won’t work.

We are huge advocates of writing brand new CVs for every employer and every role you apply too. Why? Because it will help directly address the needs of the company and highlight the relevant points from the job advert.

This may seem like a lot of hard work but it will certainly be worth it when the interview offers start flooding in. If you are applying for the same job title it may be that you just need to make a few adjustments, but this will still be a worthwhile change.

Each company has its own take on a specific role and of course their cultures will be very different from one another. You need to research each company you apply to and pay special attention to the job adverts. Make it clear to the hiring manager that you’ve written your CV for them and them alone. Here’s How to tailor your CV for interview success.

3. Cliché statements

A cliché statement gives the employer nothing to go on, and a candidate cannot hope to get an interview by simply telling them how great they are. Here are a few examples of the most popular cliché statements to avoid:

  • I am a hard worker
  • I am a team player and can work well alone
  • I have good communication skills

The frustration the employer feels when reading these outdated cliché statements is hard to explain. In some cases it could mean an instant rejection, and the best case scenario is that your outstanding abilities still just about put you through to the interview stage. In our experience you will likely be rejected, and it’s not hard to see why.

Your focus should not be on attempting to tell the employer how great you are, but by showing them. You should avoid these cliché statements at all costs and instead think about how you can provide evidence of your skills through achievements, awards, accolades and results.

Are you a great communicator? Then prove that by showing them your high sales stats or through successful projects that you lead and co-ordinated. The employer isn’t stupid and can get all of this just by reading your CV. Are you a cliché? Here are the words employers are sick of seeing on job applications.

4. Unprofessional email address

This may be a small mistake and not always one that will cost you an interview, but everything is about perceptions. The employer is constantly building up a picture in their mind of how you may function in the role. If you choose to apply with a silly or unprofessional email address then you could be giving off the wrong perception.

If you don’t have an email address that uses your name, then create a new one. We would actually recommend creating a new address anyway for job interviews so any offers don’t get mixed up within the usual spam. So stick with some kind of combination of your name and keep everything professional to the last.

5. Too much irrelevant information

A common mistake we often come across when reviewing applications is the endless amount of tasks and responsibilities under each and every past job. This just isn’t going to impress an employer as they don’t want to see everything you’ve ever done.

Your list of tasks needs to be kept as concise and as relevant as possible. Remember, the hiring manager just wants to know if you’re capable of doing their job, and has little interest in anything else. So with the exception of outstanding achievements, you always need to write a CV that’s as relevant to the new employer as possible.

6. Missing keywords

To help make your CV relevant you should consider using as many matching keywords as possible. The first place to start is the job advert where you will usually find keywords from sentences like this:

  • Experience of audit & accounts preparation
  • Supervising the junior team members
  • Provide excellent customer service
  • Rapport
  • National or Multi site contracts

If you can include as many keywords as possible you will instantly grab the attention of the employer. Another great tip is to look at your existing CV and see if there are any previous job titles and skills which are the same as being advertised, but you have used different words.

Injecting some commercial awareness into your CV is also a great way of making a good impression. You want the employer to see that you have the right credentials but that you are also knowledgeable or even an expert in your industry.

7. No CV template

When it comes to creating the look over your CV it’s important to realise the limits of your creative skills. For those of you out there that have extensive experience in creative roles like graphic design, then this won’t apply to you. But for the rest of us mere creative mortals we have to admit defeat when it comes to having the skills to create an amazing CV design.

So how can you create a CV that looks great?

The best way to ensure your CV looks good is to let someone else do the work for you. Rather than sweating for hours over your laptop trying to align every single section and wondering which font to choose, you could instead go online and download a ready made free CV template.

Yes, if you didn’t know there are actually websites dedicated to the creation of CV templates. With hundreds of designs and layouts to choose you have the very simple task of just picking one and copying your details across. The huge amount of time you will save can be used to further tweak and tailor your CV.

8. No results or achievements

An employer is always looking for two things when they read a CV. The first is that you have the right skills, qualifications and experience (if requested on the job advert). The second is how well you’ve performed in your past roles, what you’ve achieved (awards and accolades) and the results you’ve earned.

Without any indication of what you’re capable of you are going to struggle to get an interview. Results and achievements are so important to an employer that if you fail to provide them it’s going to be too difficult to hire you. An interview could of course reveal some of that vital information, but more often than not the hiring manager has lots of other applications to choose that do provide this.

No matter how qualified and skilled you appear to be it will not always get you a job. A highly qualified individual does not always guarantee the right results. Someone who has less qualifications but a proven track record is often more desirable. So when writing your CV try to remember how important those two aspects are to the employer. This is the secret to creating a winning application!

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