Your CV is the first thing recruiters see when they’re searching for candidates. And although it may seem as simple as writing down your work experience, qualifications and skills and simply sending it off, there might be more you can do to make yourself standout.
We’ve already covered what not to do on your CV, but here are a few more CV faux-pas that could be sabotaging your career:
You’re not providing context
If you’re struggling to include all your experience in your CV, it can be tempting to try and keep things brief.
But although stand-alone bullet points of your duties and descriptions of your skills might seem easy to understand from your point of view – without the right context, will they really mean anything?
For example, skills in customer service are beneficial for many careers – but not backing them up with how they benefited the business won’t demonstrate what impact hiring you could have. And that’s the bottom line.
It’s all about quantifying your skills, and proving your suitability with tangible examples.
Top tip: Read your CV objectively, and ask yourself if it would make sense to someone who didn’t know you, or get a friend or family member to provide an unbiased second opinion.
You’re complicating thingsA good CV is simple, to the point, and easy to read.
So whether it’s by writing in long paragraphs, elaborating too much, or including your whole life story – making it difficult to read is a sure-fire way to deter recruiters.
To avoid information overload, use the job description – and only include what matters in terms of the role and necessary skills.
If your key attributes and experience are clear and well-formatted, a recruiter will be better able to ascertain whether you’re a good match. And if they want to learn about something in more detail, that’s what your cover letter (and, hopefully, the interview) is for.
Remember: your CV is not a document with an unlimited word count.
: For the most effective CV, keep it short and concise. Two pages is more than enough to give an employer an accurate summary of your skills and experience.
You’re hiding something
Although it’s possible to go overboard with the wrong details on your CV, it’s equally easy to forget to include the right ones.
And contact information isn’t the only thing you need to double-check at least twice. Although it might seem less significant than the rest of your CV, you should always make sure your employment history has honest start and end dates – or at the very least, months and years.
Otherwise, you could be at risk of recruiters thinking you’re hiding gaps in your work history.
Making your dates clear also helps to avoid any interview silences, not to mention awkward conversations when they get around to checking your references.
Use your cover letter to explain any career gaps. You’ll be able to put a positive spin on your break, as well as give honest reasoning as to why you took it.
Your focus is off
So maybe you took on a great internship seven years ago, in an industry you’re no longer looking to work in. That’s great, but it might not need to be the main focus on your CV.
In fact, depending on your recent experience, you may not even need to mention it at all. Knowing what skills and experience are most beneficial for the jobs you’re applying for is the best way to prove your suitability.
Whether it’s shown by formatting, the amount of description you provide for a job and its duties, or what key skills and work history you choose to reference, ensuring your CV is tailored to the job correctly is absolutely vital.
Failing to do so might mean employers can’t see how qualified you are – all because they’d have to wade through irrelevant information to get there.
Top tip: Formatting your CV with your strengths first can make all the difference when it comes to emphasising certain skills and experience.
You’re not refreshing your CVEnsuring your CV up-to-date is essential – and it means more than just adding your new job titles to keep things fresh.
Whether it’s updating the formatting and layout, improving the quality of your writing, or simply changing the font*, making small improvements every time you apply for a job could make all the difference when it comes to standing out.
For example, a layout you chose when you first created your CV might not look as contemporary five years down the line.
Additionally, if you’re looking to change careers – a CV refresh is even more important. Every industry requires different skills and expertise, so always ensure your CV accurately reflects what you’re looking for.
: Never see your CV as a finished document. It can always be changed, updated, and edited – and doing this as often as possible is the best way to ensure it’s the best it can be.
Job searching can be a long and difficult process – and when you’re concentrating on finding the right role, writing a great cover letter, and interview preparation, it can be easy to let your CV slip through the cracks.
But in any job search – your CV matters.
Remember: you might be fully qualified for a role, but not representing your skills accurately on your CV could be what’s really costing you the job.
*Comic Sans is not your friend.