14 Common Mistakes on CVs and how to avoid them

  • Your CV is often the one tool that you have to amaze a recruiter, make a good impression, and ensure that you are invited for an interview. It is therefore important that you get it right! Below are a few of the most common mistakes we see on a daily basis. Reviewing these could aid you in your attempts to be successful in your job search.

1. Not indicating contact information, or displaying incorrect information

  • It is surprising how often this occurs. Candidates often leave out an email address, and when you are not reachable via telephone, this is the next port of call. Please ensure that you include contact numbers, as well as a current email address

2. Indicating studies you have undertaken, and not indicating when they are, in fact, incomplete

  • Listing additional qualifications and courses undertaken after completion of your matric is a must. However, ensure that you indicate when you have not completed a course, as this can lead to complications further down the line

3. Displaying your working experience in reverse order

  • This should be done in reverse chronological order i.e.: from most recent to least recent
  • Ensure that dates are correct i.e.: of when you held a certain position
  • In the same vein, ensure that if you have taken a break from employment for any reason, you have explained this, so as to avoid the recruiter jumping to their own conclusions

4. Not updating your CV before submitting it

  • Often a CV reflects that a candidate is ‘currently’ working at organisation X, but upon interview, this is often not the case

5. Spelling and grammatical errors

  • If we are to take the time to read it, you can take the time to edit it!
  • Make sure that you use spellcheck, and then proofread your CV, as spellcheck does not always pick up the misuse of words (e.g.: the use of “their” instead of “there”, or an error in your email address)
  • Do not use abbreviations for words (e.g.: @ to illustrate at)
  • If you are not entirely comfortable and unsure of the final product, ask a friend or family member to give it a final check

6. Cover letters that are too long, incoherent or for the wrong job application

  • Ensure that this letter is brief and to the point
  • Avoid using vague terms and descriptors that could apply to anybody (e.g.: can work well in a team or individually)
  • Make use of the skills and experience you have that are relevant to the job

7. Using “fancy made-up” titles for your positions

  • This often leads to confusion, and recruiters can be left in the dark as to what your role consisted of, particularly when you have not included your duties

8. Not outlining the major duties that you were responsible for

  • Take this as an opportunity to show what it was that you brought as an employee, and why the recruiter should call on you for an interview
  • However, if there are jobs on your CV from ten years ago, this information is likely irrelevant, and for positions such as these, you can limit the information to the company, the period; and what position you held

9. Adding a photo that is not professional (i.e. there is a toilet in the background)

  • Pictures are not a requirement on your CV, and often take up valuable space. However, should you decide to make use of one, ensure that it is suitable
  • “Duckface” is not appropriate!
  • Zoolander

    Not the right face to pull on the CV picture.

 

 

 

10. Wasting valuable space with irrelevant information

  • Why you left each position can always be discussed should you be successful in being invited for an interview
  • Participation awards in Grade 3 and merit badges in highschool don’t carry too much weight in the working world
  • Recruiters spend limited time per CV, so don’t clog yours up with information that is not pertinent, such as your Grade 1 Spelling Bee achievement, or your religious affiliation
  • The essentials include your name; contact information; education; and work skills, along with your achievements in each of these areas

11. References that lead to dead ends

  • Ensure that you have a reference from, if not your current job, then the most recent one prior
  • Recruiters are unlikely to be interested in obtaining a reference from the manager you had at your high school casual job
  • Ensure that your references are from a company that you have worked at, and are NOT friends or family members. These would be considered character references, and are not applicable in this sphere

12. Using third party references

  • Your CV is an introductory letter of yourself to the recruiter, and should be presented as such. Referring to yourself in the third person negates this, and can also be particularly annoying to read
  • Write your CV in the first person in order to create a connection with the reader, and to demonstrate an unpretentious attitude

13. Using a personal email address that is just…well…odd

  • If you don’t have a professional email (at the very least using your name) then set one up
  • Your chances of being taken seriously with an email address like “duckfacequeen@gmail.com” are few and far between

14. Making your CV too long

  • It is not to your advantage to submit a lengthy CV consisting of ten pages, as no recruiter has the time nor the patience to sift through it
  • Keep your CV’s to a maximum of 5 pages, less for those with less work experience (some of the best we have seen are only 1 or 2 pages long and have been layed out brilliantly to include all relevant information)
  • In the same vein, don’t waste space by using the entire first page to display your name. Make this the header of the first page, along with your contact details

In summation, there are a number of mistakes that can take place within a CV, usually unintentional, although they can have a range of negative effects on your job applications. It is at the end of compiling your CV that editing becomes key and will likely improve your chances of being successful at an opportunity. Give your finished CV to some friends and ask them to critique you and offer their suggestions. You may find that this saves you in the long run!

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