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Common CV Mistakes

7 Common CV Mistakes

Of all the mistakes you can make regarding your CV, sending it to an employer without properly proofing or double checking it for mistakes is definitely at the top.

As expected, you should always review your CV before you attach it to an email or to an online job advert. It isn't just mistakes or typos you need to look out for but you also need to make sure the presentation and content is appropriate and professional too.

Your CV is the very first impression an employer will have of you, so make sure it’s a positive one. Here are some of the 7 common CV mistakes you should avoid:

Spelling and Grammar

It’s the most obvious factor but also the most important too. Spellings, typos and poor grammar in a CV shows a lack of care, commitment and skill. If you’re not prepared to correct your spelling and grammar in your CV than an employer may feel that you would treat work duties in a similar fashion. Don’t rely on the built-in spell checker, you should either proof it yourself or get a family member or friend to read over it.

Quality over Quantity

An ideal CV is one or two pages. Any more than that and you may have to question if the content that you’re putting into your CV is necessary. An example is whether hobbies and interests should be included, which can be debatable and can depend on the job role but they’re not the most important aspect of your CV. If you need to save space, concentrate on your skills, previous experience, achievements and education/training as they are what an employer is more interested in. They don’t have time to read 5 pages so if you can, keep your CV short, sweet but effective.

Keep it Relevant to the Role

Another thing to consider is the relevance of the content. If your CV has more than 3 pages due to countless jobs and experience then you should probably remove any jobs that aren’t relevant to the position you wish to apply for e.g short-term jobs in different sectors or Christmas temp roles. Revolve your experience and skills around the position so the CV is attractive to the employer, e.g include roles that involve using a computer for IT jobs. Also, try not to turn your CV into a life story as it should represent what you can do and how your experience contributes to the role. Any valuable stories that could leave a lasting impression should be saved for the job interview.

Avoid Cliches

If you really want to sell yourself, try to think of unique words to use to describe yourself other than the overused sayings e.g team player, enthusiastic, committed. There is nothing wrong with using these words but on their own they don’t offer much. Instead of saying ‘I am a team player’ follow it through with an intended result e.g ‘I like to work in a team as it can produce faster results and we can build on each other’s strengths.’

Format and Structure

This is very important. Formatting is everything in a CV and you need to make sure it’s presentable in all aspects from structure and layout to font size and colour. Avoid using non-traditional fonts as not only can they come across as unprofessional but can often be hard to read. Even if you think a particular font looks great on your CV, chances are that it won’t be installed on the employers’ computer, meaning it will change to a default font and may look out of place.

Although you can avoid this by exporting to most PDF formats, some employers’ may prefer a Word document so it’s recommended to use default fonts like Arial, Calibri, Garamond, Times New Roman and Verdana as these are normally installed on every computer. The best font-size is also between 10-12pt with a black font and make sure you keep all your content within the boundaries of the document. Most employers will print your CV off and if anything is out of place it could get cut off.

Don’t make your CV stand out for the wrong reason

It’s natural that you will want your CV to stand out from the competition but there are times when it’s best to keep certain aspects of your CV traditional, although this can indeed be debatable. Many recent attempts at making a CV stand out have been to change the colours, the page orientation and most controversially, add a photo. Adding a photo or changing the colours could be a turn off or seen as unethical to employers so the safest option is to avoid doing this. The majority of employers will state that they’re more interested in the content of your CV than the look and style.

Of course, a creative job role will likely welcome a change of colour and style in your CV but even then a photo is still likely to be a risk. As a recruiter once said, 'It doesn't matter what you look like, it's what you can do that matters.'

Correct (and Professional) Contact Details

Even if you've checked the spelling, grammar, content and format and you're satisfied with it, you shouldn't forget about the another crucial element of your CV and that's the contact details. You could very well have made an ideal CV for the employer to pursue you as a candidate but if they can’t get through to you then that will be the end of that. Always make sure you've got your latest contact number on there and that you're not missing a single digit or character.

The other important aspect regarding contact details, besides making sure they're correct, is that they should be professional too. That funny email address you might have registered for MSN as a teenager all those years ago may not leave a very good impression today and could scupper your chances. If you haven’t already done so, head over to Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo and register a new email address that’s comes across as appropriate and professional. An email address that represents your full name is usually the best route to go down.

So, as long as you make sure your CV has been double checked for spelling and grammar mistakes and that it's professionally presented then you could certainly increase the chances of IT job opportunities.