Your CV is often the first step in the hiring process and the first impression that your new employer will receive of you, so you want to get it right! Whether you find yourself looking for a new job or refreshing your resume. Brushing up on your CV writing skills is always important and making sure you avoid simple mistakes.
A CV is a snapshot of you and your career history and so often simple avoidable mistakes are made. I’ve worked in management and HR for the last 8 years and I have seen a lot of CV’s in my time and these are some of the mistakes I’ve seen time and time again.
1. Not keeping your CV simple
Most roles don’t require a CV that is too extra. Your CV doesn’t need to ‘stand out from the crowd’ in most sectors and your experience and professionalism will do that for you. The main focus needs to be the content and whether it is easy to read. A simple font and a simple outline is more than sufficient. I would strongly advise against adding a photo to your CV, it really doesn’t add anything to it and often the photos used are really bad quality.
2. Not making your CV readable
If I had a pound for every time I couldn’t open a CV because they’ve used it on a format my laptop or computer doesn’t have. Microsoft Word or PDF is fine but if you don’t have access to either of these, Google have online documents that you can compose your CV on and then can download in various different formats. Most recruiters wont ask for a second copy if they cant open your first one.
3. Making your CV too long
I could talk about myself forever but a CV needs to just be a snapshot. A CV is a brief overview to ensure the recruiter wants to invite you to interview for the job. You can go into more details at a later stage. 1-2 pages is plenty and if you are writing ones that are 4-5 pages long you are wasting your time and I’ve known hiring managers to say no purely because there CV is too long. The longest record I’ve ever seen is 8 pages.
4. Not putting your job history in order
The ideal CV gets all the relevant information at the beginning. Make sure your most recent or most relevant experience is at the top and is concise but also the biggest bulk of your CV. If you’ve had a lot of jobs, still include them, just don’t write half a page about your waitressing job from 2013. In all honestly most recruiters are only concerned with your last 3-5 years experience any way.
5. Not tailoring every CV
Have one or two generic CVs that you can amend with every job you apply for. This may sound time consuming but when applying for jobs it should be about quality over quantity. It is so easy to spot someone who is just mass applying for every job going.
Read up on the job description and highlight anything essential they are looking for. For instance if the role requires ‘Advanced Excel skills’ make sure to include a section on ‘IT Packages’ or add a section on key skills that includes, ‘Advanced Excel skills’.
Other things really important things to remember:
- Spell check- obvious but often missed
- Make sure the CV is up to date!
- Make sure your contact information is included and up to date
- Add dates- don’t just put ‘2018’ put what months you were there too
- Don’t lie- it’s considered fraudulent and you will 100% get found out eventually