1. Not including the most important info on page one
It might seem logical to put your education at the top of the page chronologically speaking, but the first pieces of information the reader sees are going to determine whether or not they keep reading. Include the must-reads on page one and start with something impactful. A summary of your skills, achievements or your work experience from a recent role could include the information that best aligns you with this new position.
2. It's too long
Recruiters want to quickly determine how suitable you are and what value you could add to their company and most aren’t prepared to dig six pages deep to find out. If your career has been long and varied there’s no need to list every job you’ve done and detail menial responsibilities if they aren’t adding valuable skills to your repertoire. Focus instead on the skills that apply to the role most and if you are concerned about any gaps, you can add an ‘other’ section that lists a few job titles and their dates.
3. It goes back too far
Unless it’s important to the role, going back through 15 or more years of work history or including high school certificate results when you’re in your 30’s is unnecessary and not only uses valuable space on your resume, it can also lead to age discrimination. Unless you were the school dux or it’s the only education you have you are better to concentrate on anything gained more recently. Often certifications, qualifications and licenses are gained on the job and hold more relevance.
4. Sending a generic CV
The best resumes are thoughtfully geared to suit the job you’re applying for. Comb through the job description and pull out key words (or better yet, variations of those words and skills) that can be included when describing your expertise. Failure to highlight required skills is a missed opportunity to sell yourself and gives the impression you’ve sent an identical CV to multiple jobs, rather than having a strong interest in the particular job opening.
5. Uploading your CV in an incompatible format
The only way you should be sending your CV is as a PDF, which is basically a photo or snapshot of your CV and the safest way to ensure it can open and be read on any computer. Anything else leaves too much room for error, even a Word file can go crazy (especially when you’ve used tables, columns or non-standard fonts) so if you can’t upload a PDF and have to use a Word file, be sure to clear all the formatting.
6. Spelling mistakes (that even spell check won't find)
With so many variations of words in the English language people often get caught out by relying on spellcheck. A word can be spelt correctly but spellcheck won’t pick up that it’s not the right word. Perfect examples: their/there, effect/affect, led/lead, loose/lose, insure/ensure. There are also many differences between British and American English, so make sure your computer is set to the setting appropriate for your country and have a second person proofread your CV to capture anything you’ve missed.
7. Tiny grammatical errors
Overlooking the correct placement of punctuation marks can be a costly mistake. A space between the end of a word and a period or a period following a question mark are common errors and while small, it will look as though you didn’t take the time to make sure everything was correct before hitting send.
8. Not paying attention
Addressing your cover letter to ‘whom it may concern’ when the application told you who to address it to shows you haven’t paid attention to the details. The same applies for business names or computer programs that often capitalise specific letters or don’t have gaps between words. If you write Linkedin when it should be LinkedIn, Adobe In Design when it is Adobe InDesign, the reader will wonder how much experience you really have with those programs after all.
9. Not adding an address
I almost missed out on an interview for a job because the recruiter felt I lived too far from the office. It left me wondering if adding such a detail to my CV was worth it at all, but as it turns out, it is. Some companies use programs to sort and cull CV’s when they’ve had a large number of applicants and when they do it by location and you haven’t included one, your CV could end up at the bottom of the pile or not be read at all. The best thing to do to avoid discrimination is to add something, like a town, city or state and leave out the physical street address.
10. Using clichés
Writing about your best bits can be hard but it’s important to compile a list of skills that make you an asset to a company without toting the same lines as every other applicant. While being results-driven, hard-working, a team player and excellent communicator are all fantastic qualities, most CV’s turn out these similar skill sets. Look at your accomplishments and the things that really set you apart for inspiration.