CV mistakes – are you making them? (Part 1 of 2)

Part 1 of 2 – Top mistakes made on CV’s

I have reviewed thousands of CV’s and while many are generally better than they were 10 years ago it never ceases to amaze me how many mistakes I still see on CV’s today.

Gone are the days when the CV was the one-stop sales pitch. Those who understand the benefits of working with a good recruiter, using social media (e.g.LinkedIn profile) and networking within your industry can increase their chances of securing an interview.

However, regardless of other mediums, CV’s are vital and must come up to scratch. You only get the one chance to make a first impression so it is worthwhile avoiding the following mistakes;

Spelling and Grammatical mistakes

Yes, this is obvious and easy to fix with spell check at the fingertips of us all, but it is still surprising to see so many CV’s with spelling mistakes (circa 5% of all CV’s). Nothing looks less credible than a CV which is littered with spelling or grammatical errors.  Simple solution: run spell check every time you change anything on your CV, and then read it, because even spell check won’t pick up everything e.g. using US spell check for UK CV!

State your achievements as well as your responsibilities

A CV is a mini sales pitch so long narrative about what your role is rather obvious to the recruiter (employer or agency). Descriptive information about your job role is important but please keep it brief. Far more important is what you have achieved, what successes you have had, initiatives you led etc. Always ensure that each job role has clear achievements. This is what an employer wants to see. It’s not just about what you did but how well you did it. What stands you apart from others?

All the information in the wrong place

So you have your job history, academic qualifications, personal profile, contact details, referees etc. but what order should they be in? There is no hard and fast rule but it is vital to consider that a recruiter will typically spend 10-30 seconds reading your CV, which will rarely take them past the first page unless the content is sufficiently compelling. With this in mind always ensure the most pertinent information is on the front page and that who you are (including contact details), brief personal profile and what role you do now (including achievements) is on there. I would always suggest that education details, what you like to do in your spare time, referees and charity work should at the end of your CV and the bulk of the front page describes the last 1 to 2 job positions.

Does size matter?

Yes, when it comes to CV writing, very much so. One page CV’s are good in theory but I have seen many that come at the cost of not getting the right message and information across. Avoid truncating your personal successes and achievements or even worse making everything so small & crushed together that the reader needs a magnifying glass!

On the flip side, CV’s that are too long will invariably not receive the attention that the author was hoping for. A maximum of 2 to 4 pages is what I look for, 4 pages maximum for Senior Executives, 3 for middle managers and 1-2 for junior level candidates.

Does your CV work history match your social media profiles?

A final note has come with the advent of social media and particularly sites like LinkedIn. It may sound obvious but if you go to the trouble of creating both a CV and a profile on a professional network (I’d strongly advise doing both) then please ensure they mirror each other and are kept up to date. I often see a LinkedIn profile that does not match a CV.