There’s an old saying that goes “You never get a second chance to make a first impression” and it could easily could have been referring to CVs and the job search. CVs, after all, are your first chance to show a company what a perfect fit you are for a position — but if done incorrectly, they could also be your last. That’s why it’s absolutely critical to get them right the first time. Otherwise, all the time you spend filling out applications is essentially for nothing.
But for every CV mistake, there’s a remedy. We’ve detailed a few of the most common CV mistakes that prevent you from getting an interview, as well as solutions for how to fix them. It may take some time to improve your CV, but it will be well worth the effort.
1. Don’t Tell, Show
The Problem: There’s an old saying in writhing: show, don’t tell. When you as a job seeker simply states how great you are without providing any evidence, you lose credibility in recruiters’ eyes. Typically, job seekers do this is by using buzzwords (strategic, specialized, leadership, experienced, passionate, focused, creative, enthusiastic).
The Solution: Instead of using these words, demonstrate how you use that skill. It’s a powerful way to share your experiences and what makes you stand out without boring the person on the other end. One common approach is the STAR method — provide the situation, task, action and result of different initiatives you have been involved in, making sure to include specific information if you can Numbers are always powerful.
2. Including an Objective
The Problem: It used to be usual to put an objective like “Find an entry-level position in marketing” at the top of your CV. One of the most common mistakes on a CV is an objective instead of a professional summary. Objectives should not be used in a CV.
The Solution: Don’t just say you want a job — show recruiters why they should hire you for the job with a professional summary. Your professional summary should emphasize who you are as a professional and the high-calibre skill sets you have to offer. You should think of a professional summary as an introduction to the story about yourself. It should grab the reader’s attention and the information provided should make the reader want to continue on reading to learn more.
3. Not Customizing Your Resume
The Problem: When you’re applying to multiple jobs, it’s tempting to use a generic, one size fits all CV and blast it out everywhere you’re applying to. Unfortunately, that strategy may end up preventing your CV from getting in a recruiter’s hands at all. An increasing number of CVs are reviewed electronically before a human sees them and if your CV doesn’t have the keywords specified in the job description, it will likely be overlooked by the software.
The Solution: It may be a pain to create a customized resume for each company, but if you’re truly interested in a position, it’s worth it. It is important to tailor each application with keywords from the job posting to pass the electronic screening.
4. Focusing on Job Functions Over Results
The Problem: If your CV reads like the original job description you saw when you applied, it’s time to spice it up. You can focus too much on featuring the job tasks/functions in your career history to try and ensure the keywords are in the CV, but you could fail to devote time to strategically marketing your best skills sets and achievements.
The Solution: Instead of focusing on your day-to-day responsibilities, describe the big picture impact you had. It is much more effective thing to have a separate core skills section and focus your work experience section on results, major contributions and key projects you have worked on at various companies/organizations. It is the best way to distinguish yourself among the hundreds of applicants applying for jobs.
5. Leaving Out Social Media Links
Problem: Many people aren’t using the presence of social media to their advantage and use their CV as a stand-alone document. But in a constantly connected world where being transparent and informed is critical at every stage of the hiring process, it only makes sense to add links to your professional social media profiles.
The Solution: Add a new dimension to your CV by linking it to your LinkedIn profile by adding your LinkedIn URL. By linking to your updated profile, you will immediately gain credibility through your recommendations and endorsements of your skills and show insight into your personal brand and value. It is obviously essential that your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date!
6. Poor Writing
The Problem: When it comes to your CV, your experience and career accomplishments are the most important, but how you present that information comes in at a close second. The way you express yourself on your CV (and in any form of communication) impacts the way others see you. Spelling mistakes, clichés and complex, industry-specific jargon will all count against you.
The Solution: Ensure your CV is grammatically correct. Then, be sure that it is worded in a professional manner with a somewhat formal tone. Last, make sure your resume is understandable to someone, even if they don’t work in your industry. The easiest way to improve your choice of words is to read your CV out loud to yourself. This can catch many of the potential issues before anyone else sees it. Then, ask a friend or family member who works in another industry to read it. If they find your CV to be confusing, consider changing the wording, so that it’s clearer.