The job hunt takes time, and after putting in the hard work, it can be disheartening when you don’t hear back from recruiters. Unfortunately, you might be falling at the first hurdle without even realising it - your CV.
The good news is, we’re here to help. Although you might know how to put together a CV, it’s all too easy to make any one of these five common mistakes, so here’s how to fix them
1. Poor formatting
One of the quickest and easiest ways for your CV to end up on the rejected pile is poor formatting. After all, recruiters are busy people, and they only spend around five to seven seconds reading each CV initially. So, if yours is hard to read, they aren’t going to waste their time trying to decipher it.
As such, it’s crucial that you ensure you choose the right layout for your CV and that it is formatted, so it is clear and concise. This means several things:
- Making sure you don’t cram every inch of paper full of text
- Leaving decent borders and ensuring some white space
- Choosing a clear font that is easy to read and not too small - Times New Roman, size 12 is best
- Use headings, subheadings and bullet points to divide the information on the page
2. Sending out a generic CV
Although you might think that writing a generic CV, so you can send it out to several jobs you’re interested in, could boost your chances of getting invited in for an interview - this is not the case. In fact, when it comes to job applications, there is no one size fits all approach.
A recruiter can spot a generic CV from a mile off, which is instantly off-putting. After all, it shows a lack of creativity, professionalism and passion for the job.
Instead, you need to make sure that you tailor every application you submit. This way, you help the recruiter to quickly and easily see that you’re a good fit for the role and that you did your research into the school or college.
So before you submit any CV, ensure you have thoroughly read the job description and researched the school or college, tailoring your application to reflect the required skills, experience and qualifications.
3. Lying or exaggerating
You may not have the experience required behind you to land a specific role yet. This can make it tempting to tell a few fibs or perhaps exaggerate the experience you do have. The problem is, these facts are all too easy for recruiters to corroborate, so being economical about the truth is likely to come back and bite you.
In the best-case scenario, your lies are obvious and your CV is tossed aside. Worst case scenario, they check up on your references or ask you follow up questions, which can be pretty embarrassing. Either way, it’s better to always be honest about who you are and focus on other aspects such as transferable skills.
4. Not providing evidence
It’s all well and good listing your skills or telling the recruiter why you’re great, but you need to give evidence to prove this. It is not enough to simply list your qualifications or reel off all the responsibilities from your past role; you need to highlight why this would make you the ideal employee.
You can do this by listing achievements from your time in education, volunteer work or past jobs and quantifying these with facts and figures where possible. You can also use power verbs to communicate your skills more strongly.
5. Spelling errors
Finally, one of the simplest mistakes that job hunters often make is not proofreading their CV effectively - or at all! Spelling and grammatical errors look very unprofessional, and they suggest that you did not take the time and care to re-read your application before submitting it.
So, before you hit send, make sure you read and re-read it again. You can even run it through an online spelling and grammar checker or ask a friend to look over it for you. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
By taking your time when writing your CV and ensuring that you tailor every application, you can avoid the five common mistakes we’ve outlined above. This will boost your chances of being invited in for an interview and ultimately landing the role you want.
Andrew Fennell is the founder and director of StandOut CV, a leading UK careers advice website. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to publications like Business Insider, The Guardian, and The Independent.
About the author
Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.