14 February 2022

Your Career - 5 Common Mistakes that are Sabotaging Your CV

Job hunting could be an incredibly tedious and stressful task. You send so many emails, apply on numerous sites, ring up recruiters yet you feel like you’re not getting anywhere. Could it be that you’re CV just isn’t doing its job? Could it be that it’s just not strong enough?

I’ve spent countless hours perfecting my CV. It has evolved as I have evolved in my jobs and grown my career.

So to save you some headaches and boost your employability chances, here are some things you should try and avoid when working on your CV.

FOCUSSING ON DUTIES RATHER THAN ACHIEVEMENTS

Employers and recruiters don’t care about what you’ve been doing day to day in your previous roles. What they do want to know is what you’ve achieved. Focus on the problems you’ve solved, the improvements you've made and the issues you’ve tackled. Think of successful campaigns, new procedures, sales increase and the specific value you contributed in your current and previous roles. All in all, you should be talking about the impact you’ve made more so than your daily duties.

BEING DISHONEST

That’s a big no-no. I get it, you want to come across as someone who has the right skills for the job, and then maybe once hired, you’ll acquire those skills. But trust me, being anything other than 100% truthful about your skills, knowledge and experience will come back and bit you in the ass.

The amounts of times I’ve had people tell me that they’ve interviewed someone who has ‘proficient in WordPress’ on their CV only to be given a task during the interview and stare at the laptop blankly (yes, it’s now standard practice to give someone a task during the interview to see how they perform). Imagine being the person who’s meant to be a pro and then you just sit there not knowing what to do. It’s embarrassing. More than that, it’s humiliating! Just don’t do it!

I have applied for jobs where I don’t have all the right skills, but being truthful about it and saying things like ‘I’m open to learning’, ‘I pick up new skills on the fly easily’ will more than makeup for whatever skills I didn;t have.

POOR CHOICE OF FONT

You think ‘fancy and sophisticated’, a recruiter thinks ‘difficult to read and unnecessary’. I know you’re trying to stand out and show a bit of personality but ultimately your CV has to be easy to read. Make sure the fonts are not too out there. The sizing and spacing should allow for the information to fit on the page neatly, yet be easy to scan with your most important accomplishments being easy to spot.

FORGETTING TO USE KEYWORDS

Most businesses now keep CVs on file and search for keywords when looking to sift through the many CVs during the first stages of recruitment. Having those crucial buzzwords in your CV could be critical. And I don’t mean words like ‘ambitious’ and ‘team player’ but specific skills. If you’re applying for a Project Management role, for example, try to shy away from ‘fluffy’ terms like ‘project coordinator’ or ‘miracle maker’. Instead, be pragmatic and call it as it is. A good way to see which words you should be using is to go on LinkedIn and see what keywords and skills appear for jobs in your industry. Then make sure to include those in your CV.

NEGLECTING TO PROOFREAD

A poorly worded CV or one with many grammatical and spelling mistakes is just about the worst thing you could to sabotage your chances for success. Run it through Grammarly and ask a friend to give it a once over for you. Your CV is how you first present yourself to potential employers. You don’t want to be the person who can’t spell. Trust me, those people don’t get hired.

NOT ADAPTING YOUR CV TO SPECIFIC ROLES

This may sound tedious, particularly if you’re applying for a bunch of different roles all at once, but this is literally one of the best things you could do to improve your chances of getting hired. Read through the job ad carefully and pick up certain keywords and phrases and then try to incorporate those in your CV. Once you’ve done that your CV will present you as the ideal candidate for the role. This is particularly important if you’re applying for a job you really really want. Taking the time to tailor your CV and include words and phrases that resonate with the employer is a really good way to improve your chances of getting to an interview stage.

So there you have it, a list of 5 faux pas you should absolutely avoid. It’s always worth spending a bit of time and getting your CV right. It literally pays off to do it!

And if you are successful and your improved CV has helped you secure an interview, check out my blog post on nailing a job interview.

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