Getting your CV right can mean the difference between securing an interview for your ideal job or having your application quickly consigned to the bin. Understanding that first impressions really do count, the Careers Advice Service has identified the 10 most common mistakes made on CVs in order to help people avoid making them.
Research shows that as many as one in four CVs contain spelling errors, with candidates regularly mixing up ‘their’, ‘they’re’ and ‘there’[i]. The research also reveals that job seekers are regularly criticised for using slang words such as ‘ain’t’ and ‘gonna’ in CVs.
Mark O’Pray, a Careers Coach at the Careers Advice Service comments: “We review hundreds of CVs at the Careers Advice Service so we often see the common mistakes that people make. We want to help candidates avoid all the major CV no-no’s in order to put them in the best possible light in the eyes of prospective employers. With the UK job market more competitive than ever, it’s vital that your CV helps you stand out from the crowd - for all the right reasons!”
Below are the top 10 CV blunders identified by the Careers Advice Service which should be avoided at all costs:
1. Spelling and grammar errors
There is nothing more off-putting for an employer than a CV that is riddled with spelling mistakes or grammatical errors! Always use the spell-check function on your computer or double-check words you’re not sure about with a dictionary. It’s always worth asking a friend or relative to proof read your CV before you send it out.
2. Sloppy formatting
A CV which uses inconsistent fonts, a mix of headings and sizes or paragraphs and bullet points that do not align will look confusing and messy. Decide on the font and format you want to use and stick to it throughout the document.
3. Too long or too short
Get the length right. CVs are often too long with far too much information or too short with hardly any information at all. It should be two pages in length, maximum.
4. Poor structure
Your personal statement needs to be your biggest selling point. This is the first thing a prospective employer will see so it needs to be relevant to the job you are applying for.
5. Gaps in employment
If there are times when you were not working – for example because of maternity leave, travelling or sickness – these need to be explained. Never assume an employer will know your life history and gaps in information might be viewed with suspicion.
6. Being negative
You don’t need to go into the reasons why you left your last job on your CV – it’s irrelevant to your application. A prospective employer is unlikely to be too impressed by someone who complains about their old boss or the long hours they had to work. Stay positive and upbeat.
7. Poor quality
It’s highly unlikely that a potential employer will take you seriously if you send out your CV on scrappy paper. Presentation is just as important as content, so invest in some high quality paper and also make sure there is enough ink in the printer first.
8. Full references
You don’t need to include full references on your CV. If the employer is really interested in you, you can supply these after your interview. A line that simply says ‘References available on request’ at the bottom of your CV will suffice.
9. Irrelevant information
Simply sending through a standard CV or one that has been written for a different job role will not impress a potential new boss. Employers like to see a CV appropriate to their vacancy so check the job requirements and tailor accordingly.
You will be found out! Remember that your CV should always be a true representation of yourself and you should not need to resort to lying about your experience or qualifications. Instead, believe that your skills and talent are enough to help get you the job.
Click here for a document highlighting frequent mistakes.
The Careers Advice Service has an online CV Builder tool for helping people avoid the mistakes made by job applicants. Advice includes how to look for a job and prepare for an interview. There is also a video of Mark with advice on how to write a CV that will stand out from the crowd on the Careers Advice Service media hub at: http://newmediaroom.careers-advice.org/
The Careers Advice Service is open seven days a week from 8am to 10pm. To speak to a Careers Advice Service adviser call 0800 100 900 or visit www.direct.gov.uk/careersadvice.
Www.workingmums.co.uk has its own careers toolkit section which gives advice on all aspects of job hunting and interview skills as well as information about issues such as childcare.