CV mistakes you will want to avoid

Your CV is undoubtedly one of the most important factors in your job search.

Tue, January 14th, 11:24

   

It’s not going to land you the job but it can get you to the interview. With the level of competition in today’s job market it’s critical that your CV hits the mark immediately and makes a prospective employer pick up the phone.

One of the main things to consider with any CV is to remember your audience. Interviewers have to read CVs and they’re only human. Do them a favour and keep it short.  An easy to read document will be given more time and attention. What interviewers want to see is a well organised, well thought out document that’s easy to read and gives them all the headings and bullet points they need to realise you’re the right person for the role.

89% of CVs have mistakes and here are the top ones we see:

Spelling

Errors and misspelling just show carelessness. Make sure to read and “sense check” every word. Get someone else to proofread it and don’t just rely on spell check. You would be amazed how easily a word (which is perfect in spelling) can change the context of what you are trying to communicate. If you are a person who believes you are strong on attention to detail and communication, this is the first place you’ll get caught out.

Grammar and sentence structure

Grammar and sentence structure should be correct. Again, have at least one person read your CV to make sure it’s not unintelligible or overly technical. If you work in a highly technical field you’ll need to try and keep it readable for the HR department too. Don’t use long sentences and paragraphs. It’s so much easier to read a CV that ideally has 6-8 bullet points to describe your responsibilities in previous roles.

Layout, font type and font size

First impressions are the most important aspect of your CV and in many cases determine how much time will be spent reading it.  While there’s no golden rule regarding layout it is important to try to make your CV look interesting, uncluttered and easy to read. If you think of your CV as a sales brochure you will want to have it looking as professional as possible so treat it as your marketing document which reflects your personality, skills and experience to suit the advertised job. The best font size is usually 10 or 11 for the body text and 14 for sub-headings (Profile, Work Experience, Qualifications) and the easiest font types to read are Calibri, Arial and Times New Roman. Whatever font size you use, keep it consistent throughout. There is nothing more annoying than seeing a mix/mess of font sizes in a CV.

Clutter

Keep your CV as simple and uncluttered as possible. If there is too much information it just becomes a nuisance to read. Hiring managers are most interested in your last 2-3 jobs so concentrate on those and highlight your responsibilities and achievements  in a clear, concise way. If you’re going back further than 10 years you should list the companies where you worked and your position in those companies.

Not including keywords

Not including keywords could mean your CV might never be seen. Keywords are the words that recruiters and hiring managers search when matching CVs to job vacancies on their database. In order to get to the top of the pile your CV needs to include keywords that directly match the job that interests you.

Same CV for every job

Every job has different skills requirements so if you are going to go to the trouble of sending in a CV don’t send a recycled one. Make sure to tailor it to the specific requirements of the advertised role by looking for the keywords and including them to increase your chances of success.

Too long 

There’s no need to say everything about yourself on your CV, keep something to talk about at the interview. If you keep your information relevant you should be able to keep your CV to 2 pages (2 ½ max). This should provide enough space to get your key skills and achievements across. Pare back your words to what’s relevant and focus your interview preparation on that.

Not relevant 

The first instinct when preparing a CV is to put every detail of your life into it in the hope that the prospective employer will see just how amazing you are. While this might seem like a good idea in theory, in practice it usually ends up with a lot of irrelevant information. Make sure your CV is relevant to the job. There is no need to include hobbies and interests unless they are directly related to the job you are applying for.

Siobhan Kinsella

The Irish Times