Mistakes to avoid when doing your CV
As a recruiter and a study of people, it's interesting to see how many people still make the same mistakes over and over again when creating a CV. Now, I can go on all day about all the things that people do wrong with CVs, but here are a couple of basic things to look out for:
- Treating the CV like a biography:
Most people reading your CV have a limited amount of time to spend on it, so the last thing they want to read is a novella. Your CV should always be to the point and pertinent to the role you are applying for. You should view your CV as though it were a sales document. Your CV should show the reader why you are a match for the requirement, that you will be able to take away a pain that they have- sales 101.
- Big blocks of text:
It's tempting to cram as much information as possible into a small number of pages, but it makes the information difficult for the reader to consume. You should remember that hiring managers, and even recruiters spend as little as 7 to 20 seconds to decide if they are going to read your CV further or not, so you need to make the information as easy as possible to consume. One way of doing this is my breaking your paragraphs up into no more than 3 to 4 lines per paragraph. A paragraph that contains more than 4 lines is likely to be skipped over by the reader.
- Unnecessary personal information on the front page:
Avoid putting photos on any page of your CV, but especially on the first page. It's just another thing you can be judged on prematurely. The same goes for religion, marital status, date of birth, age, etc.- there is no place for it on the CV.
- Listing every single skill you have:
If it doesn't relate to the job you are applying for, don't put it on your CV. Researching the company and the hiring manager will help you select the skills that are most pertinent. Is this case, less is more.
- Not getting to the meat of things quick enough:
Your first page is the most important real estate on your CV- it's the only page that really stands a chance of getting 100% attention. By researching the company, you can learn about projects and activities that relate to your background, and you can leverage this acquired knowledge to showcase your experience that relates to the job.
- Not describing the companies in your career history:
No hiring manager knows every single company out there in the world, and I doubt we will ever find a savant hiring manager out there that do, so it's a great idea to describe the companies that you have worked for. Include with the company is known for, what the size of the company is and in which industry they operate. Without this information, your work history is a bit abstract and the hiring manager won't really relate.
It doesn't matter where in the world you are applying for jobs, if you make up things on your CV, it will either come out when the reader reads your CV, in an interview or somewhere down the line. If you are really as good as you say you are, you don't need to make things up. Also be careful power words such as excellent, amazing, awesome to describe yourself or your skills. In some countries like New Zealand you might be seen as a "Tall Poppy", a show-off, and this is not well received. Many hiring managers are "Tall Poppy Choppers".
- References on a CV:
There are a number of different schools of thought when it comes to references on CVs, but most of them feel the same way; don't include personal information of references on your CV. Once you get to a stage that is close to a job offer, the hiring manager can ask for your references. It is worthwhile to put recommendations on your CV, and these could be ones off your LinkedIn profile.
- Poor spelling and grammar:
Don't just look at crossing your 'T's' and dotting your 'I's', but focus on all forms of punctuation. A good, and free, tool to use is Grammarly – have a look at it.
Bonus Tip: Use your first CV as a master copy, and include all your skills and all your project related experience on it. Every time you apply for a job, just take out the information that's not relevant.