Top CV Mistakes
Here are the top mistakes that are commonly found on CVs.
As a CV writer and my previous experience as a recruiter, I’ve read 1000’s of CVs and seen the most common CV Writing Mistakes time and time again. So I’ve compiled a list of the most common ones to allow you to ensure that they don’t feature on yours.
The first point of call for all CV writing should be to place your name at the top, ideally in the header section, so that it appears on every page. Sounds simple but time and time again, as a recruiter, I’ve had to search for the applicant’s name which is hidden amongst the rest of the personal details.
If laid out correctly, the header should instantly provide the reader with your name and contact details. This increases the readability of the CV and will stop any misunderstandings later in the process. Let’s imagine that you have spent 3 hours creating a CV with great impact appeal that leads you to making the interview stage. However as your name is hidden amongst the text a recruiter mistakenly places your CV in the “to be filed” tray thinking that it’s a rejected CV. What a waste of 3 hours and a potential opportunity!
The amount of CVs I’ve received over the years with attached photos is staggering and, although it’s expected in the USA and other countries, it is unnecessary in the U.K. You want your CV to be judged on the merits of your achievements, skills and work history. You do not want a recruiter to judge your suitability for a position based on your appearance at this stage.
Apart from this, a photograph is very subjective and no matter how professional recruiters are, there is always room for bias as they are, after all, only human.
No or inappropriate email address
This point follows on nicely from the one above. A CV is effectively a sales brochure of you, the professional. However why would you either omit your email address from your CV or worse still use an inappropriate email address.
Let me explain. Whether you love or loathe the technological revolution we live in today, we have to accept that the time when recruiters would use the telephone to contact applicants is on the decline. Instead we are applying for positions and recruiters are responding using email or social media as their preferred contact method.
Therefore a professional email address and social media presence is essential. The use of gimmicky emails such as email@example.com or Sugarcandy31@email.com is not the message you want to convey. Stick to more professional sounding addresses and browse your social media presence to check that too conveys the right impression of you.
No clear section headings
To increase the readability of a CV it is advisable to break the CV up into relevant sections. These sections should each have a header that is differentiated from the bulk of the CV text by using bold or underlined text, just like this article.
No bullet pointing
Recruiters read hundreds of CVs a week and the initial read is always one that picks out keywords that’s highlighted on the job description they are looking to fill. To increase your chances of making that first selection, you need to ensure that the pertinent information is clearly visible and the easiest way to achieve this is with the use of bullet points.
The following demonstrates how easy it is to read the information contained within bullet points.
- Responsible for data handling and carrying out econometric analyses on a research project about consumption around retirement
- Co-author on an article about caseworker behaviour and clients’ employability
- Contributor to a report on the effects of the Danish pension reform of 1999
- Responsible for the construction of a questionnaire targeted disability pensioners
Reverse chronological order not used
Writing your CV in reverse chronological order is the most advisable order should you be using the chronological CV format. Using this order requires you place your most recent work history at the top of the employment section of the CV and work backwards in time. This ensures recruiters will read the most relevant information first rather than reading all about your first employed position 30 years ago. If you wish to make the selection for interview I can guarantee that this is far more likely to happen if you employ the reverse chronological order.
Excessive details of interests
Adding interest to a CV is a good idea if your are involved in a voluntary role as recruiters look favourably on this or if your outside interests demonstrate skills useful to the workplace such as team sports.
However the listing of all your interests is unwise as it only adds to the length of your CV and could distract the reader from the more important aspects. This is especially true if you list the following as your interest.
“Horse rideing, like going pub when havent got my kids and doing stuff with them when they anit at school”
I can imagine the recruiters thoughts on these interests for various reasons.
Including date of birth
This used to be a stipulation for all CVs 10 years ago however it is no longer the case for 2 reasons.
Firstly we live in a society which discourages discrimination, and rightly so, however putting a date of birth or your sex on a CV places the recruiter in a predicament as if an applicant doesn’t make the initial selection for whatever reason, he/she could accuse the recruiter of doing so on the basis of age or sex.
Secondly, under data protection guidelines, the inclusion of a date of birth on a CV is considered unwise as, should these details fall into the wrong hands, they could be used for the basis of identity theft.
Therefore its is advisable that they omitted from a CV.
I always recommend that this information should only be provided when it’s asked by the interviewer during the latter stages of the recruitment process. To include it on a CV only adds more detail and therefore creates more distraction. In addition to this, if you are sending the CV to a recruitment company, the reference names may be added to a headhunter list for the same position and could become the competitor that prevents your appointment to the vacancy.
Spelling, grammar and typos
The CV is a promotion tool for you. Why send a CV that hasn’t been triple checked and is littered with mistakes to a recruiter? Spelling in these modern times is unforgivable as modern day spell checks are excellent, if you have set the correct language in the first as there are subtle differences between English and American English.
Typos are another mistake that are very common as they aren’t picked up by the spell checks. The only way to avoid these is to check, check and check again. You could ask a family member or friend to proofread your CV. Alternatively you could seek out a professional on sites such as fiverr.com
When you talk to recruiters the common consensus is that it should be either 1 or 2 pages long. I recommend Clients they should use their intuition on this subject. If you are just starting out in your career and maybe have 5 years or so experience, then a 1 page CV should be more than sufficient. However if you are a senior manager or executive with 25 years experience then a 2 page CV would be more appropriate.
Under no circumstances should a CV be longer than 2 pages as the readability is lost and so will the key achievements amongst a wealth of waffle!
Ensuring that your CV doesn’t contain these mistakes will place your CV in the top 10% and increase the chances of your selection for interview.
Thanks for reading this blog post and I wish you every success in your search for the next step in the career ladder.