5 CV Mistakes Which Will Cost You The Job

18 June 2018

In a competitive environment, recruiters see an enormous amount of applications and quickly need to sift CVs to differentiate between candidates.

Research shows that most recruiters will spend as little as 30 seconds reviewing a CV before deciding whether to take the candidate forward.

The advantage of a CV is that there is no fixed format and candidates can therefore adapt their document to play to their strengths and achievements. However this can also be the downfall for many applicants.

We spoke to a number of recruiters and employers and below are the top 5 biggest CV howlers, guaranteed to hit the reject pile.

  • Endless pages of CV

Recruiters are looking for CVs which are 2-3 pages of focussed, concise and relevant information and which can quickly be assessed against the position applied for. There simply is not enough time to sift through 4-5 and in extreme cases   6-7 pages of information.

Recruiters are often HR professionals and can immediately spot when a candidate has copied and pasted huge paragraphs from their job description. This certainly pads out a CV but indicates nothing about personal experience and achievements. Long and rambling CVs tend to irritate employers, especially if they have to work very hard to find basic information.

Therefore try and limit your CV to 2-3 pages of focussed, well presented and extremely relevant information. 

  • Spelling and Grammar

Spelling and grammar errors on a CV are guaranteed to warrant an immediate rejection. This lack of attention to detail sends the message to the employer that this simply wasn’t important enough to get right. Most employers are looking to employ diligent, detail conscious employees who take pride in their work. A CV with errors immediately gives a bad impression. Would you submit a business report or presentation with same lack of attention and detail?

Always check, double and then triple check your CV for spelling and grammar and then find one final person to check it again for you.

  • Information is too difficult to find.

Many employers tell us that they will first assess the format and presentation of a CV before reading any content. They also tell us that a badly presented CV can also be infuriating. Badly formatted, ordered and presented information all mean that the recruiter has to work twice as hard to extract basic facts and details in order to assess your application.

Lack of thought about presentation and information also tells the recruiter something about your professionalism and your approach to written communications. Would you write business reports and presentations in the same way?

Try to put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter who is to assess your job suitability and match you to their job specification. Keep information in logical categories and in order of most relevance. Subject headers and bullet points always makes for easier reading. Keep it neat, tidy and always professional. 

  • Splatter Gun

We call it a splatter gun approach because we know that this candidate has lazily sent out the same generic CV to 100+ employers in the hope that just one will hit the target. This approach tends to clog up the recruitment process and will guarantee a very poor success rate. If you do not meet the majority of required skills and experience for the position you are wasting the recruiters time as well as your own. Worse – you do have the requisite skills and experience but your CV is so unspecific that the recruiter can’t make the connection and you are rejected anyway.

It is absolutely essential to tailor your CV for each application you make. Its also a good idea to play back any key words from the job advert or specification in your CV. This will helps with automated CV review software where a system reviews the CV according to key words and phrases before it ever gets into the hands on a human being.

  • Getting Too Creative

    Unless you are applying to the creative industry, adding a touch of creativity to your CV could backfire. Borders, weird and wonderful fonts, pictures, colours and photographs are often not appreciated by prospective employers. Non-standard CVs also pose the risk of confusing automated CV review software which may not recognise non-standard formatting and new and interesting fonts.

    This is not a good time to tap into your creative side. Always play it safe and aim for a standard, professional CV. Recruiters tends to be creatures of habit and prefer the familiar and the known.  

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