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6 common CV errors

A CV is a snapshot of your career history and what you’ve achieved in your working life. It’s likely to be the first thing that a prospective employer will see that’s ‘your work’, so it’s vital that you get it right. If your CV doesn’t shine, you may give recruiters an excuse not to shortlist you for interview.

We look at six common CV errors and how you can avoid them.

1. Lack of specifics 

When an employer looks at your CV, they need to know exactly what you have achieved in your previous roles and how this is relevant. If you were responsible for driving business growth, say exactly how you did it and spell out the results you achieved. Detailing additional projects or initiatives you have been involved in can also add significant value to a CV.

Look at the career information you want to include in your CV. Does it say clearly 1) what your role was, 2) what your responsibilities were, 3) what you achieved and 4) the benefit it delivered to your employer? Are these points clear the first time you skim over your CV? If not, rewrite it until they are.

2. Photographs, colour paper and unusual fonts

We have noticed an increasing tendency for job seekers to ‘jazz up’ their CVs by including photographs of themselves and using unusual fonts or fancy formatting. You might think this will help your CV to stand out, but it may give the impression of style over substance.

Make sure that the words speak for themselves. Keep to a font that looks clean and make sure the design of your CV isn’t cluttered.

3. Long and elaborate sentences

If you use excessively long words and elaborate sentences on your CV, you risk overshadowing your actual achievements. Use bullet points - where appropriate - to help to add structure and clarity. They will also help give recruiting managers the information they want in an easily digestible format.

Check what you’ve written and see if you can rewrite the information so it’s shorter and snappier.

A CV is a snapshot of your career history and what you’ve achieved in your working life.

4. Incorrect contact information

There are few things more frustrating for a recruiter than to have a great CV in front of them and not be able to contact the person whose name is at the top of it.

Make sure your email, phone number and address details are correct.

5. Attempting a ‘one size fits all’ CV

Employers who receive generic, ‘one size fits all’ CVs generally discard them. Most recruiting managers look for tailored CVs explaining exactly why – in terms of achievements and accomplishments in previous roles – the person is appropriate for the role.

As you’re writing your CV, have the job description to hand and look at what you’re writing with a critical eye. Every word should be designed to persuade someone recruiting for this particular role that they should interview you.

6. Typos, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors

It’s surprising how many CVs we receive containing spelling mistakes and other basic grammatical errors. These can easily be avoided with a bit of effort. If you submit a CV with mistakes, it will look like you’re careless or couldn’t be bothered to check your work. 

Check your CV carefully before you send it. Make sure there aren’t any stray apostrophes (in plural words, such as ‘key performance indicator’s’, for example) and that words which can be spelled differently (such as draught and draft) are in the correct form. Spell check software can pick up some mistakes but it’s not fool proof. Ask a friend to check your spelling if it’s not one of your strengths.

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