From font to the template to language, there are a lot of choices to make when you’re writing a CV. How do you stand out from the crowd without alienating the recruiter? Here are seven common mistakes we see being made all the time – iron these out and you’ll have a perfectly professional document, sure to land you that dream job.
1) Sending out generic CVs
Recruiters read hundreds of CVs every day, so you need to stand out. Whilst applying for jobs is hard work, you can up your chances of making it to the interview by tailoring your CV to the job at hand – don’t rely on a generic CV to suit every role you apply for.
Reading the job advertisement carefully will let you insert keywords and phrases, meaning you come across as a fully formed candidate, ready to take on the role in question.
2) Using the wrong format
Whilst most CVs you’ll see will list career progression in chronological order, this isn’t always the most advantageous template for your CV. For example, if you’ve had a career break or spent time unemployed, these gaps stand out in a chronological setup.
Organizing your CV around your skills rather than where you were in any given year allows you to let your experience speak out loud and clear, and any gaps in your career.
3) But don’t try to hide your gaps
Recruiters get it – sometimes we need to take a time out, and this won’t always hurt your chances of landing a job. However, career gaps will need to be explained or justified, as, in the silence of an absence of an explanation, a million questions will arise.
“Be transparent about your career gaps and explain how they helped you grow as an individual into the mature, responsible candidate you are today,” says Shawn Carlyle, a CV expert at Essayroo.
4) Bending the truth
Whilst it’s often tempting to big up your experience in your CV, there’s a line you must never cross. Lying on your CV is not only immoral, it also exposes you to being caught out, undermining all of your past experience.
The truth always comes out in the end, and lying on your CV will lead to an unreliable reputation that can hamper your career in the long run. Cast an objective eye over your CV before you send it in and see if there’s anywhere you’ve flexed the truth a little too far.
5) Getting too creative
Okay, we want to stand out. But kooky fonts and formats will make you stand out a little too far and can send an unserious message when you want to come across as the utmost professional. There are a handful of fonts – Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri – that employers expect to see.
Don’t diverge from these trusty typefaces – in the worst case, some software won’t even recognise your fancy type and all your hard work will go to waste as your CV comes up blank.
6) Including a headshot
It doesn’t matter how good you look – unless you’re applying for a role in a modelling agency, there’s no need to include a headshot on your CV.
“Headshots on CVs have gone out of fashion, and in the 21st century they’re taking up valuable space that could be informing employers of your experience or soft skills,” says Walter Bohannon, a writer at Academized. “Ditch the headshot and let your experience do the talking.”
7) Ignoring action verbs
Workplaces are dynamic and fast-paced, and you want to prove that you can keep up. Using action verbs imbues your CV with a similar sense of energy and gives potential employers a better sense of your skills. For example, consider ditching the expression “I was responsible for…” for “I led,” or “I managed…”. This puts action and achievement on the centre stage.
The job hunt can be hard and it’s often tempting to send out low-effort CVs in the hope that something turns up. But when you’ve found a job that’s a perfect fit, you can’t leave it to chance. These common CV mistakes are being made on a daily basis – by the people you’re competing with for your dream job. Stand out from the crowd and ditch these CV mistakes.
Author Lauren Groff is a CV expert at UK Writings and Paper Fellows. Lauren offers career advice and CV tips for those newly entering the job market or looking to retrain. Also, she is a blogger at Stateofwriting.
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