When applying for a job, you will want your resume to stand out—for the right reasons. In today’s post I’ll tell you about 11 mistakes to avoid when writing your CV.
#1 Document Headers
If you write your CV using Microsoft Word, don’t put your contact details in a header, as apparently CV processing software can’t read them. So it’s best to simply type your contact details in the main document. Although this reminds me: whenever you can, try to send your CV as a pdf and not as an editable Word document. Just to be safe.
It is not a mistake to include a photo with your CV— in fact, in many countries it is a formal requirement. Yet in some countries it isn’t, for example in the UK. Always check the local requirements.
#3 Your Name
It’s a good idea to make your name easier to spot by using a slightly larger font size, but don’t emblazon it like a movie title. If you’re using font size 11 or 12 for your CV subheadings, try 14 for your name. Make it visible, not overwhelming.
#4 Your Profile and Objectives
It is often recommended that you include a ‘Profile’ or ‘Objectives Statement’ in your CV. This is a good idea if you use this section to highlight how your skills and experience will help the company that you’re applying with. If, on the other hand, you use it to simply talk about your own objects or to fill it with generic adjectives, it wouldn’t really add anything positive to your CV.
#5 Your Work Experience
Most CV templates tend to list education first. However, if you have work experience, I’d recommend you make this the first section in your CV. The only time you should start with your education is if the employer is looking for a specific qualification and you meet this requirement. Also, you would usually list your degree(s) and senior school qualification, but not your middle or your primary school education.
#6 Formatting and Layout
Avoid fancy formatting and indentation as they can make your CV look messy and difficult to read. It’s best to organise the information in columns and rows, but make sure to hide all the borders. A simple, clean format as provided in this free CV template will be easier to read, by machine and real people alike.
#7 Your Achievements
When describing your skills and experience, don’t list your responsibilities, which is what happens when you use the ‘-ing’ form (selling, writing, dealing with…, etc.). Listing your responsibilities doesn’t tell a potential employer whether and how well you fulfilled your duties. As I explain in my post on how to write an impressive CV, always use the present or past tense to talk about your achievements.
#8 Spelling Mistakes
Have you heard the one about the ‘office assistant’ who turned into an ‘office assailant’? Okay, I just made this one up, but whilst spell-checkers are generally reliable in spotting spelling mistakes, they won’t recognise if you’ve used the wrong word in the wrong place. Always proofread your CV and, if possible, ask a couple of people you trust to proofread it for you as well.
#9 Your Hobbies
Most people get confused about this one: Should you or shouldn’t you list your hobbies in your CV? My personal advice would be to list them only if you’re going to do it in a way that says something impressive or memorable about you. For example, instead of saying ‘running’ or ‘martial arts’, use your hobbies to tell the employers about your determination, discipline and ability to push past your limits.
#10 Your Skills
Carrying on from the previous point, avoid filling your CV with skills and experiences without demonstrating how these can be beneficial to the job you’re applying for. You can target your skills to the job by reading the job description and person specification carefully, and then considering how and why you would be a good fit.
#11 Your References
Do you know the last phrase many applicants tend to include in their CV? References Available Upon Request. Of course references will be available upon request, there is really no need to mention this. On the other hand, if you were asked to provide references with your job application, make sure to attach these and to mention in your CV ‘References attached’.
I hope you have found these tips helpful. Let me know in the comments section below what your biggest CV challenge is. Also, don’t forget to check out my 13 tips for writing an impressive graduate CV and make sure to download the free CV template.
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