• CV Structures

Common Mistakes When Preparing a CV

Updated: Apr 12, 2019

The lifespan of a CV is dependent on several factors which coincide with the position being applied for and human factors of the recruiter. Factors such as the number of CV’s received, the time available to review them, existing work commitments, lack of time or bad time management all impact on the assessment quality of the recruiter.

Likewise, the CV’s submitted can either relish in matching the job requirements or be disregarded quickly due to poor quality and presentation. The average CV is perused in under 15 seconds and it’s from this point the decision is made to either keep the candidate on the 'potential pile' of submit the CV into the growing pile of failed CVs.

Simple mistakes within your CV can easily disrupt the positivism of the CV which very quickly leads to the CV being abandoned.

If you are not aware of these, here are a few errors which can be overlooked by the owner when being prepared and looked down on by the recruiter, should they spot them:

1. Initial Presentation

Time and time again, we see sloppy presentation of data within the CV or reams and reams of paper comprising of long winded data which is important only to the owner of the CV.

Documents which are a full history of the candidates every move during their working hours and embellished by the categorization of every detail on every job role, ever.

A professionally written CV has to grab the attention of the reader almost immediately within the first early paragraph (which is often overlooked by the candidate). The CV needs to flow in detail from this early introduction, into the candidate’s academic qualifications and latest employment position.

The main criteria a recruiter looks for is based around the following:

- Who is the candidate?

- Is the candidate qualified for the position?

- Is the candidate experienced for the position?

- Do they have a history of this experience?

- Will the candidate be able to fit into the current organization?

That’s it! Basic presentation which flows to grasp the reader’s attention. It’s a simple process which filters out any unsuitable candidates whom may not achieve the employer’s requirements.

The CV is predominantly used for 2 main purposes.

- to be used as an information tools to get to the interview stage.

- to be used as a reference guide during the interview.

It doesn’t need to record every waking moment at work, it just needs to present the candidates details in a professional manner.

2. Spelling

Seriously, you would not believe the amount of spelling mistakes found on CV’s submitted for job opportunities. The average CV is produced on software packages with inbuilt spell checkers. They can even highlight the spelling mistake with a wriggly red line underneath the word, but this still doesn’t stop candidates ignoring the mistake and sending the CV onto the recruiter anyway.

It makes you think, are these the same candidates who mentally refused to check their exam answers after reaching the end of the exam. Based on the chance to leave the room as soon as possible and forget about the entire experience until results day…..

A simple check through the exam only takes a few minutes to see if any answers are missing, questions skipped or further detail and clarification requirements. These are the candidates that employers look for. The ones who pay attention to detail. The ones who complete the task in full before leaving at the end of the day.

As a golden rule, check your own spellings, use the word processing software to check, ask someone else to proof read your CV before you but for the love of everyone's sanity, please check!!!

It may be the difference from gaining an interview opposed to your application falling into the empty abyss of unrealized submissions!

3. Fonts and Sizes

Again, presentation regarding detail. Make sure your CV detail matches to the rest of your data.

- Choose a Font Type and stick to it.

- Choose a font size and stick to it.

I’m not saying keep the same criteria for everything your write, you can have different font sizes for heading or different styles to highlight certain criteria but keep it standardized.

All too often, recruiters review a CV of mismatched cut and paste paragraphs from various sources which in itself starts to lead to suspicion as to where the data originated from and the authenticity of the medium. Usually basterdized sections from other people’s CV’s to enhance the candidates own CV appear in CVs over and over again...

It takes a few minutes to highlight the data in a paragraph or list and to change it to the correct size to match the text above and below but far too often it gets overlooked by the writer in haste to send out the CV!

One of the golden rules surrounding font size is not to go below size 10 on the font. Candidates who have excessive information which they then try and squeeze onto 4 pages, suddenly realise they are in possession of a 6 page CV. The knee jerk reaction – “let’s make the font smaller so less pages are used”. Brilliant! We now have 4-5 pages of tiny text on a 7-8 font size. This will definitely catch the attention of every recruiter who wishes to pour over minute text with a magnifying glass or strong glasses. These CV’s usually leave the recruiter frustrated and relieving themselves of the arduous tasks by filing the document in the nearest bin so they can move onto the next CV.

Remember – Size 10 at the lowest!

4. Failure to Tailor

One size seldom fits all which often leads to generic data being presented onto the CV and fired off to a Human Resource Department. Please ensure that the correct data detailed in your CV reflects the position you are applying for. Everything that you include must be completely tailored to the company you're applying to. Data which is not relevant to the position can be removed if required. You don’t lose the skill altogether!

It’s still there, in your memory and can be addressed in an interview if the situation arises. What we are getting to is tailoring your CV to the point that it contains all the skills you have which are necessary for the position and role being applied for. It keeps your CV concise and uncluttered from unnecessary data for the recruiter to peruse and feel comfortable that you may be a good fit for the role.

5. Hobbies & References

I’m still puzzled as to where this category originated from and why people still include it on their CV. To this day, I have never recruited anyone based on their hobby. In fact, the only use I see is a tool to use against the CV selection process.

For example “likes to read, socialise and work out”. Brilliant! This is just the candidate we are looking for, “no need to invite any other candidates to the interview”, given their illiterate, recluse hobbies leading to obesity!

If however, you do enjoy certain hobbies and past times, feel free to use them to break the ice during an interview if the situation arises. You may hit a connection with the recruiter if he has any photos, leaflets or pictures in his office detailing this hobby, but please keep it off your CV.

The exact same sarcasm goes to references being included with only one exception to mind which we shall touch on shortly. It’s habitual to include references on your CV at the very end and candidates take great satisfaction putting the best titles onto the references as a way to alleviate their position up the CV pile.

These are predominately character references and not past employers. In fact, as the candidate may still be in employment, the last thing they want to do is have their current manager approached for a reference therein notifying him that he’s about to lose one of his best workers! If references are required for fulfillment of the position, they are usually requested at the end of the recruitment process as a final check. Therefore, stating them on your CV prior to even being selected for an interview is illogical when this CV space could be used for data which will help in the selection process for the interview.

The one exception to this rule is for school leavers or graduates. Candidates whom have the academic background but lack the experience in employment take the hardest step within the recruitment process. On this basis, I would recommend selecting 2 references from places where you have been seconded or engaged in work placements to gain experience. Having your mentors, coaches etc. placed as references can help and give comfort when first starting out. Once 2-3 years’ experience in the workplace has been gained, I would suggest removing the entire reference data from the CV.

6. Live up to your capabilities and don’t LIE.

Candidates often overlook their skills and capabilities and far too often accept them as the norm and that all people can do this. Another factor which candidates often fall foul on is job roles when they are looking for a new job. Jargon, hi-profile descriptions for day to day tasks and embellished responsibilities are often present in job descriptions which can and may deter the candidate from even applying.

It’s usually when we actually breakdown the task and analyses the role that the candidate usually states “oh that, yes I can do that but we call it something different in my job. For example we see Supply Chain Roles where one of the tasks is Procurement Matrix Analysis. In jargon terms it send half the candidates running for the hills. To the remaining candidates it’s a ‘price comparison table’ of all the bids received labelled in jargon.

With this in mind, we recommend all candidates review job roles from across their current work industry by utilising previous vacancies adverts and ask them to ensure they include all relevant necessary capabilities.

The downside to this is that this potentially can lead to further temptation to embellishments of the truth right through to downright lies about previous experience and capabilities. It never does you any favours in the long run and at best your future CV will be littered with short employment escapades at various employers over a limited time period.

In summary, we advise that it best to be aware of your skills, be able to talk through these easily with your interviewer and be brave it enough to accept that there may be certain areas which you are limited in experience. A clever candidate will embrace the areas they lack in experience as a challenge and future target to aim for.

Final Thoughts

Above were a few simple steps and guides which are often over looked or forgotten completely. To paraphrase the events we can simply sum up the basics covered and hope this helps provoke some thought next time you apply for an opportunity in the future. Please follow these rules and they should stand you in good stead:

- Initial Presentation (you only get one chance to make a good impression and limited time to do it.

- Clerical Presentation (fonts, spelling, proof reading, styles. Check them and then check them again)

- Tailoring (one size does not fit all) Tailor your CV for the position. Even if it’s promoting one skill over another or drawing the reader into key words within your CV.

- Clutter and bad presentation need to be avoided at all costs! Remove the unnecessary and replace it with the necessary.

- Live up to your capabilities and excel in what you do. Make sure you know what you are doing and can talk about it easily. Always choose honesty over lies and facts over fiction.

And finally, smile.
It’s a job application,
It’s an interview,
It’s your first day at work.
It’s not a heart bypass or a funeral….

Unless you’re an illiterate, obese and a recluse ;-)

Good Luck!

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