4 Common CV Mistakes That Are Stopping You From Securing Your Dream Job


The global pandemic has caused unemployment levels to rise meaning many of us are currently ...

NES Fircroft

By NES Fircroft

The global pandemic has caused unemployment levels to rise meaning many of us are currently looking for a new job opportunity.

Applying for jobs can often be a long process – according to TalentWorks, it can take up to 200+ applications before receiving a job offer meaning that on average you have an 8.3% probability of getting a job interview from one application.

With this in mind, it’s vitally important to ensure your CV stands out from the crowd as it’ll be the first impression a recruiter or hiring manager has of you. If you find you’re being overlooked for roles, it could be because you’re making one (or all!) of these common CV mistakes.

1. Your CV is too long

It’s widely accepted that the optimum length for a CV/resume is two pages. Recruiters and hiring managers are often inundated with applications meaning they don’t always get time to read a lengthy CV.

Every word of your CV should serve a purpose – securing your dream job. The most common mistake job seekers make is treating their CV as a complete summary of their work experience to date. However, this often results in a large word count, so it's much better to think of your CV as a highlight reel.

To do this, you need to focus on the job description and what’s really important to the hiring manager or recruiter – this greatly improves your chances of being invited to interview.

If you’re struggling to keep your CV to 2 pages, here are some items you could consider removing to save space:

  • Your photo – generally, opinions are mixed about including a photo of yourself on your CV and it often comes down to the type of role you’re applying for. But whether you agree or disagree with the pros and cons, simply removing your photo could be a huge space saver.

  • Keep your location short and sweet – many include their mailing address in full, but this isn’t necessary at this stage. Consider instead including your town or city so the recruiter knows what area you’re in and if it’s the right location for the role.

  • Remove full job descriptions from older roles – if you’ve been in work for a few years, you’re likely to have accrued a long list of experience. Although a lot of this will be relevant to building up an accurate impression of your capabilities, listing all your duties and skills from each job could take up considerable space. Instead, provide full details for your most current position and reduce older positions to key skills relating to the job you’re applying for.

  • Take anything out that isn’t relevant to the role – you should only focus on experiences, skills or education that makes you suitable for the role you’re applying for (sometimes, this means making new CV’s for each application). Adding in too much irrelevant information will clutter your CV and make it difficult for the hiring manager or recruiter to pick out the genuinely relevant skills.

  • Remove ‘references available upon request’ – it’s generally accepted that references will always be available on request so if you’re struggling for space, this line isn’t as important as your skills and experience that makes you a perfect candidate for the position.

2. You haven’t formatted or proofread your CV

Many candidates often overlook the importance of how your CV looks – if it’s not appealing or it’s difficult to read a hiring manager or recruiter may simply dismiss it. Before submitting your CV you should always:

  • Check your spelling, punctuation and grammar. You could ask a friend to look over your CV or use spell-checking software such as Grammarly.

  • Use easy-to-read fonts such as Arial or Calibri. The recommended font size is 11 or 12 and you should use bold and italics sparingly.

  • Avoid using borders, boxes or images - these days, many companies use applicant tracking systems to filter through large amounts of applications and these systems often take information from your CV automatically. This process won’t bring across complicated graphics or borders and, in some cases, they could confuse the system. It’s best to leave it out.

  • Stick to using one or two colours – if your CV is too ‘busy’ it can distract from the content.

  • Consider using bullet points to separate your information into bite-sized and manageable chunks.

3. You’ve included misleading or unclear information

Recruiters are often industry-specific, meaning they review thousands of candidates within the same sectors. They will likely be able to spot when information looks wrong – they only want to submit the best candidates to the hiring manager so will be on the lookout for misleading information regarding your:

  • Qualifications

  • Experience

  • Salary

  • Achievements

  • Duties

It’s important to always stick to the truth and be as clear as possible. Even if you make it past the recruiter to the interview stage, you will get found out eventually - especially if you’re misleading about your capabilities with certain software that’s required for the role.

4. You have unexplained gaps in your employment

Whilst it’s okay to have a gap in your employment, you should always explain what you did in this period as unexplained gaps can raise red flags/questions. You don’t want any part of your CV to be a cause for concern so you should always be honest and clear about what you did in this time.

Commonly gaps in our CV stem from being made redundant, being a stay-at-home parent or suffering from a medical incident. Examples such as these are part of life and this won’t reflect badly on you! It’s much better to state WHY you were unemployed than leave the recruiter wondering if your employment gap was something more worrying, like being fired from a previous position for wrongdoing.

For example, if you were made redundant, recruiters or hiring managers will understand there will be a gap in your employment history – the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in November last year that the average amount of time to find a new job is 24 weeks. Although a gap is expected, you can use this to your advantage and let the recruiter know something positive you did during this time such as, online courses, freelancing, or volunteering:

‘January 2019 – May 2019

After being made redundant from my previous position, I spent 4 months job seeking and volunteering at my local charity.’

Many often learn skills or face challenges during this period that can add value to a CV so consider what relevant achievements you gained from this period and include them. However, it’s important not to embellish the truth and provide misleading information when discussing a gap in employment.

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