Your CV is your best tool for landing a job. Without it, you’re not getting called in for interviews and you’re certainly not receiving any job offers. Today’s job search takes place online and a lot of the advice you received growing up might not be relevant in today’s digital age, so a lot has changed.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the need for a strong CV. In today’s competitive job market, you shouldn’t be spending more time on picking out your Facebook profile picture than you do writing and revising your CV.
Here are eight mistakes that might be ruining your CV and your chances of getting hired:
No. 1: Spelling errors
You might think, “Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone has accidentally typed ‘to’ instead of ‘two.’” That is true, but sometimes you need to rise to the occasion and be better than everyone. Employers want you to put your best foot forward. If your best effort is filled with spelling errors, then that means your average effort is even worse. A recent CareerBuilder survey found 47 per cent of employers would dismiss a CV with spelling mistakes. So don’t let one bad keystroke ruin your chances.
2. Ugly presentation
Even the most skilled worker with an eloquent CV won’t get called for an interview if the hiring manager doesn’t want to actually read the CV. Small font, blocks of text crammed together with no white space, no bolded headings, fonts of different colors, and on and on. Make your CV easy on the eyes so people actually want to read it and so that it doesn’t give those readers a headache.
3. Generic content
You’re probably applying to several jobs, which is smart. Just don’t submit identical CVs to every employer unless the job descriptions are identical. The problem is that employers are looking for workers who match their specific needs and can bring experience and skills to the position on Day One. If your CV is generic enough to appeal to a dozen different postings, you’re not grabbing anyone’s attention. That’s probably why 42 per cent of UK employers will ignore a CV with generic content.
Don’t give yourself a fancier job title, claim you managed a team of 200 when it was really a team of three, list companies you never worked for, or take credit for projects you never worked on. Employers aren’t dumb; they can spot lies. Even if they don’t catch your fibs, they will figure it out when they call your references or ask you interview questions that you can’t answer.
5. No cover letter
Technically the cover letter is not part of the CV, but the two are inextricably connected. Your CV paints a good portrait of you as a worker. It lists your previous job titles, employers, and education background, but it doesn’t give any insight into your personality. It also doesn’t answer any questions your CV might raise, such as gaps in employment or unclear job titles. Consider that almost a quarter (24 per cent) of UK employers won’t even consider an application that doesn’t have a cover letter attached to it.
Your cover letter is one way you can let your personality show and address any points of confusion on your CV. You can go into more details and make clear connections between your CV and the job posting, hopefully improving your chances of getting called in for an interview.
6. Outdated information
Yes, updating your CV is boring and sometimes hard, especially if you only update it when you’re looking for a job. Don’t assume the CV you wrote two years ago—or even two months ago—will work. Technology, industry terminology, and your skills have all changed and need to be reflected accurately. Even the most basic information, such as your contact info, might be outdated. Handing over a CV with an expired telephone number is not going to make a great impression—though you probably won’t find out since your current phone will never ring.
7. Too many pages
There is no firm rule on how long a CV needs to be, but a good rule of thumb is that one page is best, but two is acceptable in some cases. Beyond that, your work history and experience level should be impressive if you’re asking someone to scroll through more than two pages. Give only the pertinent information and leave off the information that doesn’t relate to this job.
8. Meaningless words
You probably consider yourself one of the following: Motivated, a hard worker, detail-oriented, a team player, intelligent, experienced. Great—but what do those words mean? Almost every other applicant describes himself or herself that way, too. Don’t waste the precious space on your CV with these words that don’t tell the hiring manager anything. Instead, include example of accomplishment or projects that demonstrate these qualities.