Your CV is your first impression, so it’s important that you get it right.
Studies show that one in five recruiters will reject a candidate before reading to the end of their CV. This is often due to poor presentation and silly errors that can be easily avoided. Therefore, it's up to you to make sure that you don't fall prey to the troublesome CV mistakes that flood the inboxes of recruiters every day.
If you're unsure if your CV is recruiter ready, then keep reading to discover exactly what makes a bad CV, and how you can easily correct your mistakes.
You include a photo
Unless a photo has been specifically requested, don't include one. It's not necessary. There are laws in the UK that make it illegal to hire an employee based on race, gender or age, so the generally accepted rule is no photo on a CV to prevent any bias from occurring.
Keep in mind, some countries in Europe expect a photo to be included (e.g. France and Germany), so if you're applying internationally it's always a good idea to do your research.
You have a non-professional email account
A staggering 76 per cent of CVs are ignored if the candidate's email address is unprofessional. Luckily, it only takes two minutes to set up a Gmail account. If you're still using the same email you set up when you were 14, put those two minutes to good use and set up a professional account. Firstname.firstname.lastname@example.org (or a variation of this depending on what is available) is all you need.
Your CV is riddled with typos
If the rest of your CV is great, one small typo is not necessarily a deal breaker. However, a CV peppered with typos and grammatical errors will be. Why? Because typos say a lot about a candidate's attention to detail and written communication. In fact, over 50 per cent of recruiters highlighted poor spelling and grammar as their No. 1 application turnoff.
Luckily, there's a very simple solution to this problem. Before you send your CV to a recruiter, make time to proofread what you have written, and then ask a friend to proof it as well. A fresh pair of eyes will help to pick up any mistakes you may have missed.
Your dates of employment don't match up
When it comes to listing your work history, the standard format is reverse-chronological order ‒ you start with your most recent employment and work your way backwards. This allows recruiters to get a clear, overall picture of your experience with very little effort.
It can be a major pain point for many recruiters to receive a CV that contains unexplained gaps or dates that are out of order, as the recruiter is then tasked with piecing together your work history and finding out why there are gaps – a task they are certainly not going to be happy about doing. So be nice to your recruiter (and increase your chances of success) by making sure your work history is gap-free and in order.
You use too many clichés
Recruiters spend less than 10 seconds reading each CV they receive. If you don't give them the information they're looking for right off the bat, then your CV will likely end up in the reject pile.
Recruiters don't want to sift through fluffy sentences and seen-it-before terminology. Avoid using clichés such as 'results-driven' and 'team player', and instead, focus on listing your direct results or achievements. Use strong action words (think 'directed' rather than 'led') and show them why you're the best person for the job.
Your CV has inconsistent formatting
Inconsistent formatting is one of the major offenders of a bad CV. Unless the recruiter is absolutely desperate, the chances of a badly formatted CV being successful are slim to none. The good news is it doesn't take much work to achieve good formatting. (In most cases, your word processor will do it for you.) Pay close attention to your font, spacing, paragraphs, indentations and bullet points to make sure they are consistent before sending off your CV.
It's also a good idea to make sure your CV is editable. Recruiters often change the format of CVs to fit the agency template before sending to a client, so make sure the recruiter can edit your CV with ease and you'll already be a step ahead.
You forgot to include your contact information
Here's the scenario: a recruiter receives a beautifully formatted CV with all the right skills and experience. They pick up the phone to call the candidate – but wait – there is no contact number listed on the CV. End result: that CV goes straight to the bottom of the pile.
You'd be surprised how often this occurs. The simple fact is that most recruiters don't have time to go searching for your contact details, so if you don't put it on your CV, you're not going to get the call.
Correcting a bad CV does not need to be stressful. While it may seem like there are many wrong turns you can take when writing your CV, the good news is that most CV mistakes can be easily avoided. All it takes is some basic formatting and a good proofread. (And maybe two more proofreads after that.)
Are you making any of these CV mistakes? Find out with a free CV review.
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