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CV Mistakes You Don't Want to Make: Common Pitfalls and How to Fix Them

CV Mistakes You Don't Want to Make: Common Pitfalls and How to Fix Them

Jan 23, 2024

5 min read

Your CV is your first impression on a potential employer, and it can make or break your chances of getting an interview. A well-written CV showcases your skills, achievements, and personality in a clear and concise way. However, many job seekers make common mistakes that can ruin their CV and cost them opportunities. Here are some of the most frequent CV pitfalls and how to avoid them.

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CV Mistakes You Don't Want to Make: Common Pitfalls and How to Fix Them
 

What is a CV?

A CV is a written summary of a potential employee's career, qualifications and education. It may include volunteer work, internships and informal training. The most common format consists of the following sections, in the order listed:


  • your work experience

  • your non-work experience, including involvement in professional organisations and the community

  • your education, certifications and licences

  • any other skills and interests related to the job


Whether you're a fresh graduate or a seasoned professional, these tips will help you craft a CV that showcases your skills, achievements and personality.


1. Spelling and grammar errors.

Nothing screams unprofessional more than a CV full of typos and grammatical mistakes. These errors can make you look careless, lazy, or incompetent, and they can distract from your qualifications. To fix this, always proofread your CV carefully before sending it, and use a spell-checker or a grammar tool to catch any errors. You can also ask a friend or a professional to review your CV and give you feedback.

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2. Too long or too short.

A CV should be concise and relevant, but not too brief or too vague. A general rule of thumb is to keep your CV between one and two pages, depending on your level of experience and the industry you are applying for. A CV that is too long can bore the reader and dilute your message, while a CV that is too short can leave out important information and make you look underqualified. To fix this, tailor your CV to each job you apply for, and focus on the most relevant and impressive aspects of your background. Use bullet points, headings, and white space to make your CV easy to read and scan.


3. Irrelevant or outdated information.

A CV should highlight your current skills and achievements, not your entire life story. A common mistake is to include information that is irrelevant to the job you are applying for, such as hobbies, personal details, or outdated skills. This can clutter your CV and make you look unfocused or out of touch. To fix this, only include information that is relevant to the job description and the employer's needs. Remove anything that is not directly related to your target role or industry, such as hobbies that are not related to your skills, references that are not requested, or skills that are no longer in demand.


4. Lack of achievements or results.

A CV should not only list your responsibilities and duties, but also showcase your achievements and results. A common mistake is to use vague or generic statements that do not demonstrate your value or impact. For example, instead of saying "Managed a team of 10 people", say "Led a team of 10 people to achieve a 25% increase in sales in 6 months". To fix this, use numbers, percentages, or other metrics to quantify your achievements and show how you contributed to the success of your previous employers or projects. Use action verbs and power words to highlight your skills and accomplishments.


5. Inconsistent or unprofessional format.

A CV should have a consistent and professional format that reflects your personal brand and industry standards. A common mistake is to use different fonts, colors, or styles that make your CV look messy or unprofessional. This can make you look unorganized or inexperienced, and it can confuse the reader or make your CV hard to read. To fix this, use a simple and clean format that is easy on the eye and consistent throughout your CV. Use the same font, size, color, and style for each section, and align your text properly. You can also use a template or a tool to create a professional-looking CV.

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