Four common mistakes to avoid when creating your CV

Detailing your own work history may sound simple enough, but writing a CV can be a lot trickier than it first sounds – particularly when it comes to creating one that’ll really stand out amongst a pile of applications. While you may be tempted to put all your energy into detailing your experience and achievements, it’s important that each of the sections individually add value and are free of errors. For an impressive CV that’s clear and concise, here are four things you’ll want to avoid doing when crafting your document.

Poor formatting

Before any potential employer commits to even reading your CV, they’re going to do a quick scan of the document – and in what’s likely to be just a couple of seconds, they’ll determine whether they want to dig a little deeper or not.

While bad formatting may not take away from your skills and experience, it does distract from them. Potential employers may take distasteful fonts and unnecessary headshots as a sign that you’re not up to date with current best practices or professional standards, and question your judgement as a result. While it’s fun to use wild and wacky typography in all the colours of the rainbow, this is best saved for writing that’s a little more creative – and kept off your CV.

Spelling and grammar mistakes

A basic ability to articulate yourself through writing is key to most job roles, so it’s important that your CV demonstrates your ability to write without spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or typos.

This is one of the most simple ways to show that your attention to detail is on point, which is a soft skill that employers look upon favourably. It also suggests that you’re able to edit your work effectively, and manage your time in order to complete it to a high standard. Even demonstrating that you’ve made the simple effort to proofread your CV is incredibly important, and shows that you’re taking your application seriously.

Information that’s too generic

Having soft skills is great when you have plenty of evidence to back them up, but if you don’t, they may sound a little generic. Rather than detailing such skills that can simply be demonstrated through a well-crafted CV, it’s best to focus your experience section on any previous roles and achievements that are totally relevant to the job that you’re applying for.

For example, if you boosted sales exponentially in your last role or helped to land a big client, any employer will already know exactly what kind of skills it takes to do that, without it being spelled out for them. So, keep your CV clear and concise by leading with the facts – you can add further explanation in your cover letter if it feels relevant and useful to do so. 

The best way to ensure that all the information on your CV really adds value is to tailor it to the description of the role that you’re applying for. An employer will always be upfront about exactly what it is they’re looking for in a job description, so showing that you have the skills and experience they’re seeking is an easy way to get it right.

Inaccurate information

It can be tempting to exaggerate the information on your CV, particularly if you don’t have much formal work experience or have gaps in your employment. While you might feel that you need to cover this up, it’s best to avoid anything that could get you caught out in a lie should you be invited to an interview. 

Short gaps in employment are rarely concerning to employers, particularly if they’re only a couple weeks or months. But if you’ve been out of work for several months or longer, you may want to address this in your cover letter, with a brief, honest statement. Rather than drawing attention to the gaps, this will only show your potential employer that you’re an honest candidate with integrity. This is key to forming positive relationships with your colleagues and employer moving forward should you be hired.

For a CV that stands out

Allowing plenty of time to create your CV will always pay off, as you can then ensure that you haven’t made any errors, and the content of your document is relevant. Don’t forget to craft a brief opening statement that details your best qualities and your career aspirations straight off the bat. This is the best way to immediately grab any potential employer’s attention and demonstrate your commitment to advancing within the company. Make sure to do plenty of research on the best practices for creating a CV, to avoid ending up with an outdated document. This way, you’ll know that you have a CV that is fresh and up to date, and sure to stand out from the crowd. 

Jenna Martin has over five years of experience coaching professionals to reach new career heights. She’s passionate about helping those just getting started on their paths to expand their experience, develop their skill set and land the jobs they’ve always dreamed of.

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