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10 Most Common CV Mistakes

  • by: Ian Preddy
  • On: 3, Jul 2018
5 min read

Ever sent out CV to a dream job application, but wondered why you didn’t get the job? Your CV is the key to landing the job of your dreams, or the reason why you aren't successful in your job search.

Irrelevant work experience, poor grammar and generic clichés can mean missing out on a good opportunity, so if your job hunting isn’t getting results, chances are that your CV is letting you down.

Here are the 10 Mistakes Candidates Make on Their CVs, and how to fix them.

1. Language

Whilst most candidates know that CVs must be clear and informative, some candidates can think that including long or complicated words will make their CV sound more professional. In fact, overly formal or descriptive language makes your CV confusing to read and hard to understand. Make sure the language used throughout your CV has clarity and sets the right tone, to make your application more interesting and give the reader a positive impression of you from the beginning.

2. Typographical Errors

Believe it or not, typographical errors are second on the list of most common CV mistakes. Unless you are writing in something other than your first language, recruiters and hiring managers feel that spelling mistakes and lack of grammar shows that candidates are not paying attention to detail or putting effort into their application. Over 50% of recruiters say that typographical errors are the number one reason behind dismissing applicants at the first stage. Revisiting and proof-reading your CV, or getting another person to read it over, is vital to getting your ideal job.

3. Keywords

As technology is advancing, many employers are using a software system to track candidates, known as an applicant tracking system (ATS). Specific keywords and terminology find candidates that are suitable for the role by matching terms that complement the job description. Forgetting to include important words that are relevant to your experience can reduce your chances of landing the job you have been hoping for.

4. Generic Clichés

Although words like ‘hard-working’, ‘team-player’ and ‘problem-solving’ can effectively describe positive behaviour in a work environment, including overused and generic phrases on your CV will not help you to sell your unique background and capabilities to your prospective employer. Explore the skills or experiences you have built up in your career and show how these are relevant to the role you’re applying for.

5. Lying on Your CV

Halfway through the list of most common CV mistakes is lying on your CV. When you desperately want to get your foot in the door, embellishing qualifications, employment and achievements might at first seem beneficial when applying for your ideal job. However, recruiters and hiring managers will spot unusual or unlikely claims straight away, and lying on your CV will permanently discredit your reputation with that recruitment company or employer. Being honest about your attributes and skills will position you as a trustworthy, reliable candidate with good communication skills, and your CV will be looked upon more favourably.

6. Generalisations

Writing about your job history will naturally include a list of the responsibilities that you have previously undertaken. However, you don’t have to list everything. Instead, ensure you include the skills and experience that are most relevant for the job you want. Give more time to skills and positions that have prepared you for your ideal job, and highlight the impact that you made on these particular roles by emphasising the results you accomplished.

7. Unsuitable Formatting

Your CV is a professional document and its format must be tidily and effectively presented. Lots of text bunched together in a paragraph will prove confusing, and recruiters and hiring managers will find it difficult to pick out your key skills and knowledge. Separate text into bullet points to make your writing clear and easy to read, and make your skills and experience really stand out. A good format demonstrates good organisation skills and a professional approach towards employers.

8. Not Tailoring Your CV To The Role You're Applying For

When tailoring your CV, it is important to target a niche set of employers, for example, large Aircraft Manufacturers or a particular Motorsport team. Your CV should be closely focused towards a specific industry to show yourself as the best fit possible and help employers identify whether you have the qualities needed to work for them. Although many job roles and sectors vary, you can look at the job description to see if your CV meets the requirements and competencies that the employers are seeking.

9. Underqualified Candidates

More than 62% of recruiters outlined this as the worst CV mistake that candidates make when applying for jobs. Working as a Boat Builder, Aircraft Painter or Software Engineer are very different job roles and will require very different skill sets and experience. You might be naturally skilled in particular areas without having much experience yet, but employers don’t want to know what you think you can do: they need to know what you have already done, which will prove that you can perform well in their job. This is particularly crucial in jobs such as aircraft maintenance, which involves responsibility for hundreds and potentially thousands of passenger lives every day; however much employers may like your personality or potential, business leaders must put the safety of their consumers first.

10. Too Many Jobs

Last on the list of most common CV mistakes is filling your CV with too much information. Unless there is a reasonable explanation, too many jobs on your CV over a short period of time will make employers contemplate the reasons behind a large number of employment changes (‘Did this candidate not get on with the employer or colleagues? Did they underperform or simply stop turning up to work?’) Similarly, including lots of information around jobs from 10 or 20 years ago will take up space that could be best used to outline other experience, and may detract from the positive impression you are trying to create. Focus on adding recent and up-to-date employment that is highly relevant to your job search.

Now you’re familiar with the 10 most common CV mistakes, learn 5 Ways to Improve Your CV.

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