An error on your CV will often cost you an interview. You may not ever realise that it’s there, and with a poor record of receiving call backs for interviews it could be the one mistake that’s letting your entire application down.
Even the most qualified candidates face rejection with a CV mistake because it shows a lack of care. Attention to detail is important for any role and a CV error says that you don’t have a very keen eye for detail.
There are many steps that need to be taken to create the perfect CV, and ensuring there are no mistakes is one of the most important. Here are 7 of the most common CV mistakes that you must avoid.
1. Spelling and grammar
The first on our list deals with the most common CV mistake. Poor spelling and grammatical errors are the most frustrating of them all because they can easily be avoided. This error certainly isn’t as prevalent as it used to be now that we have spell checking software to do the hard work for us, but that still doesn’t completely eliminate human error. In some cases you will find that the spell checker has actually corrected something which was fine in the first place.
A spell checker is not a 100% guarantee of avoiding errors, and there is no substitute for a keen pair of eyes. In fact, we would recommend also asking a couple of other people to check for any mistakes. This reduces the risk even further and ensures the employer can focus upon your credentials.
2. Lack of achievements
A CV is only half complete if a list of tasks is the only thing you write for each of your past roles. An employer is going to be happy to see a relevant work history, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Through your past achievements you can instil a greater confidence in your application and prove to the employer that you have what it takes. It isn’t difficult to list lots of tasks and skills that relate to the role, and the employer will receive lots of good applications. But what sets the good from the great are the achievements, results, performance indicators, awards, accolades, and so on. To really impress an employer you need to avoid the mistake of leaving out your greatest achievements.
3. Job hopping
Not committing to a company will look bad on your CV. If you are someone who only spends a few weeks or months at a business before moving onto something else, you are going to struggle to get an interview. The next employer is going to assume you will do that to them, and there is no point in hiring someone and to spend all that time and money on training for them to jump ship.
Hopefully we’ve managed to convince you to avoid this path, but if it has already happened then you can put a band aid on it. When applying again you need to explain your job hopping career and let the new employer know this won’t happen again. Tell them that you have now found your calling and that this was the job you’ve been looking for all along.
However, make sure this is 100% true and don’t just tell them what they want to hear. It isn’t fair to allow employer after employer to waste all their time and resources on someone that isn’t going to stick around. If you don’t know what to do for a career yet then do some research. Create a focused career path – and stick to it!
4. Not tailored
You cannot hope to impress an employer if you use a CV that’s been around for many years. One of the biggest CV mistakes lots of job seekers make is to simply update their old CV with the latest job, including all the tasks and responsibilities.
The best impact you can have on your CV is to tailor it specifically to each and every employer you apply too. This means you start from scratch each time and create something unique and personal to a particular role and company.
This will have a dramatic affect on your chances of getting an interview as it will not go unnoticed by the hiring manager. They are looking for relevant applications which provide the right skills, qualifications, and experience. If you keep sending out a generic CV you are not going to stand out. Every single section, especially your cover letter or personal statement needs to be personalised.
5. Cliché statements
To avoid creating a cliché CV you need to stop telling the employers how great you are, and show them with achievements and results instead. For example, don’t say this:
- I have good communication skills
- I work well on my own and as part of a team
- I am dynamic and enthusiastic
- I am hard working
The employer is looking for credible applications that provide cold hard facts. You cannot force your way into an interview with such an aggressive and presumptuous approach. A hiring manager has to make the decision based on who he/she thinks is telling the truth and can actually offer the company what they want.
Avoid these cliché statements and instead look to offer results. You don’t have to tell the manager you are great at working in a team if you can provide examples of successful projects. You don’t have to tell the manager you have fantastic communication skills when you can provide your sales stats.
6. Poor layout
We’d all like to think we’re experts at creating the look of our CV – from the font style, size, margins, spacing, headings, and so on. But is that really true? For the most part I would say that the average job seeker would struggle to create a ‘knock em dead’ CV in the looks department. Even though there are lots of CV examples online, it isn’t so easy to actually create them with say, Word or Excel.
An easy mistake to make when writing a CV is to forget about how it looks. Although not every employer cares about the presentation of a CV and just wants to get straight to the heart of the credentials, there are many others that assess the presentation. A manager may just decide not to read through a CV if it looks shabby or isn’t laid out correctly.
Ease of navigation is very important as the hiring manager wants to quickly pick out certain things before they consider a more in-depth read at a later stage. So the overall layout and how the sections have been created are also very important.
A tried and test method of ensuring your CV has all the sections and looks professional is to download a CV template. It’s a far quicker and safer way to ensure your CV looks good, has all of the sections, and could potentially stand out from the rest of the competition. There are hundreds to choose from, and some have even been created for specific careers.
7. No lies
Many job seekers are confident in their abilities to perform well in the job but don’t want to take a chance on missing out on an interview. They feel that there might be lots of other candidates that are more qualified, so the only way to get to the next stage is to add a few lies on their application. This may seem like a good idea at the time, but it will come back to bite you on the bum.
There are lots of stages that your lies or embellishments will get caught out. First of all, the hiring manager will likely have read hundreds of applications and will have a keen eye for finding these falsehoods. If they are missed however at that stage, then the interview is almost guaranteed to uncover something fishy.
Finally, if somehow the candidate makes it through the interview there is a good chance they will struggle to hide the facts when hired. Remember, an employer is well within their rights to fire someone on the spot if they found out they lied on their CV. If the candidate claims they are proficient with a certain computer program or operation of machinery and they are not, then the company may decide to take action.
At the end of the day it just isn’t fair to the employer or yourself. You should look to write a CV that’s completely based on facts and which you could back up in an interview and if hired. Don’t make the mistake of thinking it will go unnoticed at doesn’t really matter. The employer wants to find someone who can genuinely hold up to their credentials and do what they say they can. Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t, and have more faith in your skills.