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CV Mistakes

There are some mistakes that even the most seasoned job hunters make on their CVs; schoolboy errors that would make any recruiter wince. Even if you can’t create the most perfect CV in the world, you can certainly avoid these all too common mistakes…

Not checking your CV thoroughly…

“What? I’ve checked the grammar and spelling.” Ah, my little CV protégée, but have you doubled, nay, tripled checked everything else? Checking your contact details should be at the top of your list of priorities. Is your phone number right? Are you sure? Be careful to update the contact details on old CVs too. Make sure your email address is correct and check that you’ve put in the right address.

Next, check all your dates; not only do they need to be correct, but they should also be formatted in exactly the same way. Make sure you’ve spelt the names of companies correctly and provided the correct contact details for your referees. The rule of the day: proofread with a fine-tooth comb.

Untailored, unfocused CV, or burying the most important information…

Space is valuable on a CV. Your CV shouldn’t be longer than two pages and you need to make it concise without cutting down on valuable substance. Tailor your CV to every job application. What experience do you have which is relevant to the role? What do you have that isn’t relevant? Be brutal and cut down anything which doesn’t add anything to your application. For example, if you’re applying to an investment bank, you’ll only want to briefly mention that you worked for a leisure centre (e.g. 2002-2005 Buff Leisure, Stourbridge: Receptionist), whereas you’ll want to devote more space to the impressive summer placement that you did with AllAboutCareers Investments.

You can use bold to highlight headings, or perhaps even keywords, on your CV to direct the recruiter to the areas of most interest. You should also vary the space you allocate to certain sections on your CV depending on the industry you are applying to. The recruiters want to see the most important things first, so make sure your CV is clear, simple and easily shows where they can find certain information.

Poorly formatted CVs…

This leads on to another gripe amongst recruiters: poorly laid out CVs. You’ll be astonished at the number of unattractive CVs knocking about. The key thing is consistency. Use a readable, attractive font. Use bold for your headings and separate them out from the text. Don’t use underlining and go easy on the italics. Separate out blocks of texts with bullet points. You want it to look consistent, clear, organised and easy to read. Whilst it shouldn’t look ‘sexy’, it should be visually attractive.

Make sure the most important information is on the left-hand side of the page, e.g. sub-headings, dates, the name of your university, the names of the companies you worked for and your job titles. Recruiters will usually spend less than a minute scanning your CV and will tend to read down the left-hand side of the page. Test it out: give a friend four bits of information to find in your CV and see how long it takes them to find it.

Using an unprofessional email address…

It happens more than you’d think. Putting your email address down as: ieatdonkeys@mail.com isn’t going to impress, neither is furryballs@mail.com. A professional email address should look something like this: J.Hanson@mail.com or JoHanson@mail.com. If you’ve put something ‘comedy’ on your email signature, you might want to remove that too; recruiters won’t be amused if they receive an email with the signature “Johnny Bates is a badass gangsta.”