Less than 10 seconds. That’s how long most hiring managers and recruiters need to scan your CV to establish if it deserves a more detailed look.
It’s not a lot of time. You could actually be perfect for the job, but if your CV is saying the wrong things, you may as well not have applied at all.
So, what are the most common mistakes that people make on their CVs that you definitely want to avoid?
1.Not Putting the Most Relevant Information First
A short but accurate first summary (or bullet points) at the top of your CV outlining exactly how your skills and experience meet the job description goes a long way towards prompting the hiring manager to read further.
Many applicants make the mistake of making the most relevant information difficult to find or scattered throughout their working history – but if the job description asks for 5 years’ experience as a Teacher in a Private School setting and you have this, then it should sure as buckets be the opening line of your CV.
2.Leaving Big Employment History Gaps Unexplained
A gap or gaps in your employment isn’t necessarily a bad thing but not explaining them may be perceived negatively.
If you decided to take time off from your career to follow a passion, study, take a gap year, look after a sick relative, have been sick yourself, travel etc, make a short note of it in your CV. You may not think it’s relevant but not having an explanation might make your reader assume you’ve just been doing nothing. Employers want to understand your working history. A lack of information can breed mistrust.
3.Irrelevant Personal Information
You may be proud of the boy scout badge you received for orienteering when you were 14, but chances are that information is unlikely to be impressive to an employer.
Be mindful of what information you choose to include in your CV and if it adds to your chances to landing the role. If it’s not directly relevant to the position (including religion, political beliefs, physical attributes, hobbies and your sporting prowess) leave it out.
4.Spelling Mistakes / Bad Grammar
With spell check being essentially in-built to almost every CV writing or word processing program out there, there really is no excuse for bad grammar or spelling mistakes in a CV.
Whilst most people understand that not everyone is a writing whiz, not checking your CV for mistakes shows a lack of attention to detail that is a turnoff to most employers.
If editing isn’t your strong suit and you don’t want to engage a professional CV writer, ask a friend or relative to have a quick look over your CV. A second set of eyes could be the difference between landing the job or not.
You may well be an “outgoing people person” who is an “excellent team player” with a “keen eye for detail” but without substantiating these clichés with actual, real life examples from your career, you’re saying nothing but overly used phrases that most hiring managers yawn through whilst they’re reading.
Instead of using these sorts of phrases, outline your excellence through examples – i.e. “I gained the support of my colleagues through implementing ____ initiative which saw a 200% increase in productivity”.
6.Difficult to Read Formatting
You may have the most relevant and amazing experience for the role you’re applying for, but if the hiring manager can’t read or follow your CV easily, they are unlikely to read through to the end.
Easy to read CV templates are readily available for free on Microsoft word or in multiple places online. Humans are visual beings, pick a template that is simple, matches your industry vibe and helps to really showcase the best aspects of your CV.
Whilst not having enough information can be an issue, if the right keywords are in your CV the hiring manager might still give you a call to find out more.
If you have so much information in your CV that they can hardly find what is relevant, that call is less likely. Remember the 10 second rule? If you tested your own CV, giving yourself only 10 seconds to read it, would YOU be able to find the most relevant information?
We generally advocate for a CV around 2-3 pages in length. If you are in an industry where a project portfolio is necessary, then a slightly longer CV may be appropriate.
This really shouldn’t need to be explained but a survey held a few years ago found that just over a third of applicants had manipulated the truth or outright lied on their CV in order to get a job.
Whilst you may well get away with it, in most cases, inconsistencies add up and diligent recruiters and hiring managers will figure it out. If somehow you do get the job, you will likely be found out just by being unable to complete the tasks given to you.