Is your CV secretly riddled with CV mistakes thwarting you in your job search?
Let’s delve into this list and identify some of your very own CV mistakes.
1) Listing Responsibilities Rather Than Achievements
All too often, CVs read like job specifications, emphasising responsibilities rather than achievements. A common CV might read: “I’ve been a Java Developer for seven years. I was responsible for drawing up technical specifications, coding new enhancements, developing and releasing new features…” But this approach fails to distinguish you from other Java developers – they will have performed these tasks too. Instead, write about quantifiable achievements that separate you from the pack. Don’t just list a project you were involved in, make a case for why you were integral to it. The big take away from this point is, what did you do better than anyone else in that team?
2) Including Irrelevant Information
If your CV is brimming with irrelevant information, it’s likely to become unwieldy in length. Every time you update your CV, as well as detailing new experience, you should also condense your previous experience. Decade-old jobs do not require a full paragraph, as the experience is unlikely to still be applicable, particularly in Technology.
Jobs dated several years ago will likely only require a job title, company name, dates of employment, and potentially one sentence summarising your achievements. Older positions are predominantly there to prevent gaps unless the experience is particularly relevant. While there is no hard and fast rule for page length, which generally depends on seniority, I would recommend a maximum of 3-4 pages, or potentially 5 in extreme cases.
You should also avoid opening with a list of personal attributes (‘proactive’, ‘hard worker’, ‘fast-learner’, etc). Hiring Managers will generally skip these subjective statements because they are qualities that are expected of all employees, and most importantly, they’re ‘fluff’ – unsubstantiated words that don’t really add any value to your CV.
3) Making Your CV Too Brief
As well as making your CV too long, you should avoid being reductive – the last five years of your career deserve more than two-bullet points. The length of information detailed should be commensurate to its relevance to the job specification. In fact, your most recent experience is what readers look to first, so it has to be the strongest aspect. It should hook readers in immediately. More than anything, don’t be afraid to state the obvious, as candidates often omit their most relevant skills for this reason.
4) Inconsistencies In Spelling, Grammar, Fonts and Formatting
At Nicoll Curtin, minor mistakes are not massively problematic for us, as we provide CV editing as part of our service. However, these inconsistencies do make it harder for a hiring manager to immediately identify your relevant skills and experience. Present this information to be as easy and as consumable as possible. Go to our website for a free template to help you structure your CV, and follow the extra tips below to maintain a consistent style and tone:
- Ensure the size, style and colour of fonts are all consistent throughout and proofread for spelling and grammar.
- Avoid highlighting your skills and achievements in bold. Job titles should be in bold, but using bold mid-text is unnecessary and distracting.
- Avoid using text boxes. Microsoft Word is specifically designed for text manipulation, and adding text boxes in your formatting needlessly complicates the editing process.
- Don’t go overboard on the design. Some candidates take a maximalist approach to their CV, designing it as elaborately as possible. While this can work if you are applying for a design-based or creative digital role, it often looks unprofessional and can obscure important information.
- List months for your dates of employment. Only listing years in your job experience can look as though you are attempting to hide gaps.
5) Listing Achievements That Can’t Be Verified
You should be able to substantiate every claim you make with evidence. If you list a certification on your CV, ensure you have said certificate to hand. Most importantly, ensure all of the information you provide is accurate. I’ve seen job offers withdrawn because a candidate misrepresented even the minutest detail. This is especially relevant for anyone wanting to work in Finance and Banking. If you’ve lost the certificate for that Scrum Master certification you did back in 2010, take it off the CV. There’s no worse feeling than getting through the interviews, obtaining a great job offer, and then having it withdrawn because you can’t pass the compliance and background checks.
6) Not Tailoring The CV To The Job
It is possible to have experience relevant to multiple differing positions, so tailor your CV accordingly. Emphasise your relevant skills and achievements according to each job specification. You can tailor your CV further to the role by including relevant keywords, to optimise its search engine ranking. Even your job title can be tailored to what you believe recruiters or hiring managers will be searching for.
If you are a software developer or programmer looking to make the next step in your career upload your CV below.