One important statistic to remember when writing a CV is that an employer will make a decision on a candidate after spending a mere sixty seconds reading their CV. The reason for this rapid review and often brutal rejection, is mainly due to sheer volume of CVs to be considered in a short space of time and the irritating fact that candidates make the same basic mistakes over and over again.
With that in mind here’s a quick reminder of the most important things to avoid doing when you are trying to impress potential employers with your CV.
Accuracy | Spelling and Grammar
Firstly, and surely most basically of all, is ensuring that the CV you submit is technically accurate. 59% of recruiters will reject a CV if it is weak in this area, and it’s more often than not as a result of simple mistakes. Commonly misspelt words – like definitely, forty, occurred and therefore – may seem insignificant, but if they lead to you not being put forward for the job of your dreams then they suddenly become absolutely crucial.
It’s also vital that you don’t switch between the English and American English spelling of words. The trivial differences in spelling can be easily missed, so it’s always worth double checking that you haven’t made these slight mistakes. In American English words would read analyze, color and liter. Whereas in Standard English these would be analyse, colour and litre. Employers will not mind which language you use, so long as it is consistent throughout the whole text. Switching between the two may be looked at unfavourably, and could be interpreted as either laziness or a simple lack of knowledge. Either way it is not the impression you want to give out in your résumé.
The same rules apply for grammatical errors, with common mistakes including using the wrong ‘there/their/they’re’ and ‘your/you’re’. Furthermore you should ensure that apostrophes are not randomly scattered around and only appear in relevant places. Also remember that they should never be used to make a regular noun plural!
The Use of Cliches | Avoid Overused, Meaningless Cliches
Basic spelling or grammar mistakes are one thing that frustrates recruiters, but another is the use - and in many cases excessive use - of clichés. Almost all modern CVs contain an unnecessary amount of clichés and it has led to them losing their meanings. How do you expect to make your CV stand out when it contains, word for word, the same strengths as rival candidates? The following are the most overused, exasperating and meaningless, but try and avoid using any at all in yours.
“I’m very enthusiastic” – It’s expected that everyone candidate will have an interested and open-minded attitude to the role they are applying for. Being enthusiastic about your speciality should be a given, and it acts as nothing more than a waste of words in a CV.
“I’m a hard worker” – The minimum expected of anyone in any field of employment is that they will work hard. You shouldn’t feel the need to point this out as the information you provide in your CV should showcase how hard you work.
“I’m a good problem solver” – Instead of using this cliché showcase situations where you have had to use problem solving skills in your professional career. This demonstrates to the person reading the CV that you do have experience that you feel would be relevant if you were to work for them.
Absolutely anyone can say that they are a good problem solver, but only those with hands on experience and evidence of it can prove it.
Formatting | Professional and Tidy
How your CV looks on paper (literally) will also play a major role in deciding whether or not you are deemed an appropriate candidate for the position. Ensure that your CV gives off the professional image you want it to convey to recruiters. Garish, colourful borders and childish fonts like ‘Alba Super’ and ‘Elephant’ are best avoided. A black border – or no border at all – combined with ‘Calibri’, ‘Arial’ or ‘TimesNewRoman’ font gives across a crisp, sharp, professional image.
Another major appearance mistake that a surprising number of people make is using ‘clip art’ or ‘emojis’ in their résumé. 42% of CVs are rejected because of the presence of such irrelevant and informal pictures. These create an extremely unprofessional image and should not be used in any situation. How can you expect to impress a recruiter if you use small, cartoon like images to relay your strengths to them?!
Factual Accuracy | Dates and Job Titles, Skills, Qualifications, Experience
Finally, however, is what could be considered the ultimate mistake made by individuals when compiling their CV. Fabricating information in order to make the CV look more impressive.
56% of employers have said they have caught a prospective employee lying on their CV, and the consequences of doing so can be much harsher than simply missing out on one job. Those working inside industries all talk to each other, and by making up information to make your CV look more impressive you risk attaining a poor reputation within the industry. This could effectively slow down, or even halt entirely, career progression, making it an enormous, and in most cases unnecessary, risk to take.
Almost everyone will believe that their CV combined with their qualifications is good enough to get them any job which they apply for. The global job market however is getting more and more ferociously competitive, so it could be worth another quick check to ensure your CV is giving you the best chance of achieving the job of your dreams