Top five CV mistakes

Matt Craven of The CV & Interview Advisers gives some tips on what to avoid when writing your CV.

At The CV & Interview Advisors, we provide job seekers with free CV appraisals and as a consequence, we see hundreds of CVs each month. Seeing so many CVs, you can’t help noticing trends, and the same mistakes are being made time and time again.

People’s attitudes towards their CV are a funny old thing; we all accept that things in life progress such as corporate brochures becoming websites, letters becoming email, cash becoming debit cards (the list goes on) – but why is it that the average person is still using the same CV format that they stumbled upon when leaving school, college or university?

Below is a list of the top mistakes typically made by job seekers:

1. Creating a Personal Profile that is full of clichéd behavioural competencies such as “working well in a team”; “working under pressure”; “honest, reliable and trustworthy”; and “excellent communication skills”.

2. Failing to include achievements in the CV. A CV should be at least 25% focused on achievements, providing tangible evidence that you are good at your job.

3. Being too brief! A CV shouldn’t be War & Peace but it should provide enough information for the reader to be able to ascertain what you have been doing in your career. For example, I see many CVs that would say: “Supervising staff”, whereas what they should have written is “Manage a team of 20 IT specialists with 3 direct reports including 2 Helpdesk Managers and Infrastructure Manager, overseeing all resource planning, recruitment, training and performance management".

4. Creating a list of duties and responsibilities in random (no particular) order. The flow of information in a CV must be well thought out. Random lists are difficult to follow so start with a description of the company, follow that with a summary of the role, then describe how your role is measured, and if appropriate include a bullet point to describe the structure and size of your team. You can then hit the reader with your other bullet points.

5. Failing to understand what a CV is! A CV is not a boring list of jobs – it should be an evidence based document communicating why someone should hire you; it should be a business case that explains where you can add value; it should be a personal sales document that sells you as a potential employee; it is your window to the outside world in the same way that a website promotes a company.

I have met so many people who are struggling to find a job and yet they have a cobbled together home made CV which even they would admit is a bit of a rush / bodge job. They just haven’t put two and two together and realised that it is the CV that’s the problem. There are nearly 3 million unemployed and probably an equal amount of employed people applying for jobs; that’s a lot of competition.

* Matt Craven is founder of The CV & Interview Advisers. He will be offering in depth advice on making your CV work for you in today's competitive job market in an hour long webinar on 18th June 2012. Book your place today. To read more about what is covered in the webinar click here.  If anyone reading this article would like to enquire about the other services which The CV & Interview Advisors offer, then please feel free to contact them on 01274 408 222 or

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