Everybody makes mistakes; especially on their CV.

If you can avoid all 10 of these common mistakes, you will stand out from the crowd.

1. Misspellings

Don’t just use spell check, read over the CV multiple times yourself and get someone else to do the same. Spell check won’t notice correctly spelled misspellings, like manger instead of manager or collage instead of college; don’t rely on it.

2. Poor Grammar

The same goes for grammar. Bad grammar can be really jarring for an employer and can create a false impression of you. No matter how easy it is to write ‘it’s’ when you mean ‘its’, employers will find it difficult not to assume that you don’t know the difference.

3. Always writing ‘I’

This isn’t quite a grammatical issue but it can feel like one. You are supposed to write about yourself on your CV but if you start every sentence or every paragraph with ‘I’ it can start to grate. The reader will start to hate reading the word ‘I’, which is almost the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve.

4. Never writing ‘I’

Having said that, you do need to refer to yourself directly on the CV. Too many people will just list projects with an outcome or drop the ‘I’ from the sentence. ‘I collaborated with multiple departments to achieve positive results’ becomes ‘collaborated with…’. The difference is small but if ‘I’ doesn’t appear anywhere on your CV it just becomes a list of events rather than a list of your achievements.

5. Just listing duties

On the topic of achievements, that’s what employers really want to know about – what you are good at. They either already know or can guess your duties in your previous role based on the title, what they don’t know is what you are good at. Start with your achievements and then add any duties that you feel need to be included. You will probably find most of your duties are mentioned under the achievements.

6. Being too factual

We are not suggesting that you lie on your CV, but you should use strong adjectives and active phrasing to emphasize your success. For example, ‘I was responsible for…’ becomes much stronger when you say ‘I took sole responsibility for…’. It’s also okay to say ‘excellent experience’ or ‘unique understanding’ to demonstrate your confidence in your experience.

7. Including too much information

Too many people try to add every detail on every single job or qualification and every skill they can think of. Remember that most employers have hundreds of CVs to review and will make snap decisions on which ones to read. That list of modules on a college course you did 15 years ago may be the difference between your CV being read or not – is it really that important?

8. Leaving out the wrong things

That question is important too. What is important for the role and what isn’t? Many candidates, when trying to cut down their CV, will cut the oldest information first. However, oldest doesn’t always mean least relevant. When you cut, only cut items that you feel aren’t relevant to the role you are applying for.

9. Only writing one CV

Your CV is a sales document and the most effective sales documents are personalised to the reader. You should rewrite or adapt your CV to fit with every application you make. Use the job spec to inform what should be on the CV, what can be cut and what order to present the information. Don’t write one CV and send it to everybody, it will be much harder for employers to see the value you have to offer.

10. Not thinking about keywords

Some studies have suggested that recruiters only look at a CV for an average of 6 seconds. They aren’t reading CVs in this time; they are looking for specific keywords based on their picture of the ideal candidate and the job spec. Many will also use a CTRL+F search for these same keywords. Make sure you have this process in mind when you write your CV and make sure the relevant keywords are included.

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