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7 Common CV Mistakes – What to Avoid

Your CV (alongside your cover letter) is your first chance to get an employer (or recruiter) to notice you.

Hiring managers come across countless CVs every single day, and whilst there are ways you can make your CV stand out positively, there are just as many ways you can make it stand out for all the wrong reasons.  

With that in mind, we’ve put together seven of the most common CV mistakes to avoid making to ensure you have the best chance possible of landing the job of your dreams. So, without further ado…

1. Spelling Errors

This one is as infuriating as it is (frustratingly) common. Spelling mistakes instantly put you on the back foot when it comes to your CV, particularly when you consider that there are several great (free) spell check tools out there that you can utilise to clean up your CV, grammatically speaking.  

We appreciate that spelling is difficult for some people and that written skills aren’t always a significant requirement for a job role. However, CVs almost always act as an employer’s initial barometer for a candidate’s suitability for a role, and a CV punctuated from top to toe with basic spelling mistakes will linger in the memory and not in the way you want it to.

2. Poor Formatting

Does the way your CV is laid out make sense? Or is it all one big, jumbled mess? Lay out your CV in an easy-to-follow and logical format, detailing your experience, skills, and qualifications in digestible, distinct groupings.  

If everything is just bunged in together rather than in a thought-through manner, it will be challenging for recruiters or hiring managers to make sense of your CV quickly or easily. You want to make a good first impression, right? If you’re making the employer’s life more difficult, you’re not making a good first impression.

3. Including Too Much Waffle

It can be tempting to include everything in your CV, but you need to remember only to include things that are relevant to the role to which you’re applying.  

You might be very proud of that 10m swimming badge you earned as a child, but the chances are it’s not going to help you secure gainful employment as an adult. It’s a joke example, of course, but the principle stands.  

Some general information, skills, and qualifications can be included, but make sure to detail why they’re relevant to your current application.

4. Being too Vague/Generic

One of the most common errors we see in the CVs submitted to us is when a CV hasn’t been tailored to the specific job the candidate is applying for. What are the requirements listed in the job description? How can you tweak your CV so it’s hyper-relevant to the job/company?  

Recruiters can see from a mile away when a CV has been blanket sent to them alongside tens of other companies or recruiters. Putting in the effort to make every CV submission specific to every job you apply for can make a genuine difference. It shows you’re a serious candidate who’s done their research.

5. Failing to Explain Gaps

Contrary to popular belief, gaps in your CV aren’t automatically a bad thing. Forgetting or failing to quickly explain them is a mistake, however.  

A quick note stating that you were travelling, ill, on maternity leave, or whatever it might have been, will automatically answer any questions that might have arisen in an employer’s mind, having seen the gap.  

Again, this doesn’t need to be a lengthy explanation, and you can go into more detail about the breaks in your cover letter, but it just helps cover all bases and curb any doubts that a recruiter or hiring manager might have.

6. Lying…

It should go without saying, but lying on your CV is a big no-no. Besides the ethical issues surrounding being dishonest on your CV, frankly, it’s just plain dumb. It’ll almost always come back to bite you – either at the interview stage or at the job itself, should you be successful.  

We’re not just talking about flat-out lies here, either. We’re also referring to any massaging of the truth. It’s just not worth the potential hassle to exaggerate or stretch your experience or qualifications.  

If your CV is good enough, then it’ll be good enough. And if you need to lie in order to secure a role, then you’re probably not qualified or experienced enough for that position at that time.

7. Too Long or Too Short

The key is to make your CV like baby bear’s porridge – just right. There’s a concept in Swedish called lagom, which refers to not too much and not too little, and that’s precisely how your CV should be. As a rule of thumb, your CV should be no shorter than one page of A4 and no longer than two.  

If your CV is too short, potential employers will consider it a bit lightweight and wonder whether you’re experienced enough for the role or care enough to include enough information in your CV.  

Too much in your CV, on the other hand, and they’ll become disinterested or overwhelmed. They may also feel as though you have not taken the time to pick out the most relevant information, and they may move on to a more streamlined CV.

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So, once you’ve got your CV looking spick and span, then why not apply to one of our fantastic job opportunities? We’ve got roles in healthcaresocial careeducation, and recovery and criminal justice. We can’t wait to hear from you!   

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