In the fight to distinguish yourself from other job applicants, your CV should be your principal weapon. But with recruiters looking for any reason to bin your application, it is easy to shoot yourself in the foot. Here are some crucial errors to avoid.
TOO MUCH PERSONAL INFO
It may seem like a formality to supply a number of personal details at the beginning, but be careful. You may be putting yourself at risk of identity theft.
Several years ago, CV company iProfile and the police set up a bogus job advert to check the levels of personal information being supplied on CVs. It was discovered that, for one position, 61 out of 107 applications contained enough information to apply for a credit card.
THINKING ONE SIZE FITS ALL
Employers look at the average CV for just five to seven seconds, and 83 per cent of cover letters don’t get read at all, according to estimates by BeHiring. Your CV needs to grab attention and be on point. If you accept that a detailed understanding of your prospective employer’s values and commercial activity is necessary at interview, you’ll understand that only a CV tailored to those interests will secure you one. Think about the employer when drafting your opening statement and make sure the projects you discuss are relevant.
BUZZWORDS AND WAFFLE
Don’t try to be “motivated”, “dynamic” or “innovative”. According to LinkedIn these hackneyed terms are the most commonly found on its user profiles. Instead, you should demonstrate how you satisfy these criteria by drawing on past experience. “My rule of thumb is that 95 per cent of what you talk about should be framed as accomplishments,” Right Resumes founder Jane Heifetz told the Harvard Business Review.
CVs should rarely exceed two pages, and when space is tight, specific examples can speak volumes. Talking about how many people you have managed actually says very little, Heifetz adds. “If you’re able to attach percentages or dollar signs, people will pay more attention”.
POOR SPELLING AND GRAMMAR
This may sound obvious but, according to the Recruitment and Employment Commission, around half of all CVs contain mistakes in spelling or grammar. Graduates in their early 20s are disproportionately guilty of this; the same group without any professional record to fall back on. Take care when tweaking not to change syntax accidentally.
OMITTING EXACT DATES
Being selective with dates will suggest that your tenure was short, perhaps embarrassingly so. If this is the case, remove the position altogether. Employers will either see through your cunning, or penalise your carelessness.
If you’ve held a number of positions within a short period, employers might worry you’ll jump ship. Speaking to CIO, professional CV writer Louise Kursmark recommends that “job hoppers” group their employment history into “contract work” or “freelancing” to conceal itchy feet, allowing looser dates to suffice.
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