You are applying for the job of your dreams – it’s the one that you have been waiting for but have you proof read your CV with the specific job application in mind? Yes of course. Now I want you to rethink about that question and ask yourself – have you proof read or just simply skimmed the CV?
There is a difference, proof reading a CV is like looking at it for the very first time and correcting any mistakes, whereas with our CV we are more inclined to skim or glance over it, because we are more familiar with the content. Skimming over this most important document is the number one biggest mistake that you can make – who knows what unintentional mistakes and errors may slip through.
It is very easy for us to skim over this document, because after all we typed it and we know the content is correct and accurate – wrong! It is because of our familiarity with a piece of text that we don’t notice the simple mistakes. For example, take a look at the below.
- Can you find the the mistake? 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
- Can you find the mistake 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 Bet you didn’t find it?
Did you notice anything with the two statements above?
In the first statement there is a second the at the beginning of the statement.
In the second statement, the first of the sentence is actually a question and not a statement – therefore it should have a question mark on it.
Do you see how easy it is to not notice something that is obvious especially now it has been highlighted out to you? The same can be said when it comes to your CV – there are obvious mistakes made on C Vs that once highlighted they are so obvious that it makes you feel like Homer Simpson saying DOH!
I recently spoke with someone in Human Resources who is responsible for looking at and shortlisting CVs and candidates about what are the most common mistakes and bloopers made on CVs that she has looked over in her time. The following is her list of the most common she has seen recently and how you can avoid the same pitfalls as other candidates.
- Spelling mistakes – remember that sometimes letting a word processing programme highlight a spelling mistake is a danger in itself. Take the example below.
I speak English and Spinach fluently.
The person meant to write they spoke English and Spanish fluently, but as Spinach is an actual word in the dictionary the word processing programme did not highlight this as a mistake.
2. Grammar and punctuation – there is a difference, take a look at the example below.
Let’s eat granddad,
Let’s eat, grandad,
The first statement is making you a cannibal where as the second statement is an invitation to Grandad to eat.
A. A recruiter will take no longer than 40 seconds to look at your CV for a first impressions (sometimes even less) if you have written an autobiography, chances are you are not getting the right information conveyed in the concise manner that you want.
B. You want your CV to stand out for the right reasons and not because it is too long for someone to read instantly. Keep your CV to two or three pages maximum. Any longer and you will have automatically put your own CV in to the dreaded “no thank you” pile.
4. Too much or too little details – What is worse having so much detail that it is a story like CV that waffles on and becomes vague on your skill set or having so little detail that the person reading doesn’t know exactly what your skills are? It may take practice but learn how to get your point across in short concise sentences.
5. Don’t make up words. Even though it may sound good and sound like it might just be a word – always check the dictionary or thesaurus for actual confirmation. It is also good to note that if a word processing programe doesn’t like a word for whatever reason, spelling and/or the meaning of the word is unclear, the programme will automatically highlight this word with a small red line underneath. Use this as your warning flag that something is not quite right with the word. Simply by putting the word alone in to Google you will find out of the spelling and meaning are what you are looking to convey.
6. Overselling yourself. You are applying for a job and it is your skill set and your personality that must shine through your CV so that it will get you through to the interview. Putting too much emphasis on how brilliant you are before meeting the potential recruiter can be a mistake. This can be quite off-putting, the person who is reading your CV is looking for someone they can work with and an over-confidence can be seen as slightly cocky. So take time to review your CV so that you are not coming on too strong.
7. Leaving out important information. Always remember that the main point of sending a CV to a recruiter is so that they can contact you to arrange an interview. With this in mind, double check that all your contact details are included. Name, email address and telephone number.
Always remember to double check that you have the right details entered. Remember the format, an email address will never start with www such as email@example.com it will mostly likely be firstname.lastname@example.org.
With regards to telephone numbers, make sure if you are adding the international dialing code, that it is correct and that you drop the zero at the start of your own telephone number.
8. Your email address is unprofessional. Whilst it is important to have your personality shining out on your CV, it is also important to remember that you need your CV to be professional. Therefore I would strongly recommend that all job seekers set up an email address with their own name rather than email@example.com.
Your name as a your email address portrays a more professional image. If your own name is not available and you need to choose numbers after it – chose a limit of four numbers that are maybe the last four numbers of your telephone number or a year of birth. Make it easy for a recruiter to contact you.
9. Format, font and sizing should be consistent throughout the document. Firstly there are many CV templates available to download from the internet or through your word processing programme which will make this task easy for you.
If you are starting with a blank page, then pick a font and a size and stick to it through the document. The only exception with sizing is the different heading sections these should be no more than 2pts over the additional font sizing.
For example, if you are using a standard written font of 12pt then your headings are to be 14pt. The following fonts are quite easy for a recruiter to read easily, so perhaps try using these on your CV, Times New Roman, Georgia, Goudy Old Style, Garamond, Arial, Century Gothic and Lucida Sans.
10. Make sure your skills are on your CV and match the job description. Always ensure that it is clear from your CV that the skills that you have are relevant to the particular job that you are applying for. It is well documented that for each job vacancy that is advertised there are 100’s applicants applying for the same position. You want to make sure that your CV is standing out to the recruiter because your skills directly match the position that is being offered. This may mean that you need to have different CVs to match different companies and applications that you have made but in the long terms it will be beneficial to your job search and the ultimate goal.