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5 Common CV Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Your CV is one of the most important tools in your job hunting toolkit. It is what you use to introduce yourself to your new boss and for this reason it's vital to create a good impression.

We often think about our CV as a way for us to showcase our wealth of experience and this is when it starts to creep up in length and you find it hard to cut information out. In order to create a CV that will get the Recruiter calling you back, you need to create it so it is easy for them to see why they should pick you above the other candidates.

An increasing number of organisations are using technology to help them sift the hundreds of CVs they receive. This means the way you format your CV can be the difference between you receiving an invite to an interview or an automated thanks but no thanks e-mail.

Having reviewed hundreds of CV here's our top 5 mistakes we see on a regular basis and some tips on how to avoid making the same mistake in your CV.

Mistake 1. You change jobs and just add more to it.

Most of us create a CV and then add to it over the years when we change roles.

We rarely review the whole thing or start off with a blank sheet of paper. This leads to a CV that gets longer and longer and makes it more difficult for the Recruiter to identify what is really important.

The longest CV I’ve reviewed was 15 pages. Put yourself in the Recruiters position with potentially 100’s of CVs to get through. Why would they read 15 pages of yours when they could read 7 others that are just 2 pages long in the same amount of time?

Most Recruiters initially scan read a CV for between 15 – 20 seconds. Yes, you read that right.

Here's what to do about it:

  • Format your CV so the recruiter can see how you match what they are looking for quickly and easily.

  • Start off with a quick overview of your background, your key skills and what you can deliver. You’re looking for about 80 words maximum.

  • Follow it with a brief key skills section before getting into your work experience.

  • 2 pages will give you plenty of space to showcase the relevant skills that a Recruiter wants to see.

Mistake 2. In an attempt to create a 2 page CV you try to squeeze as much in so you shrink the font and the margins.

A CV should contain plenty of white space, this helps the Recruiter to skim read without being put off by lots of text.

If you make your font too small people will find it difficult to read. If your CV is difficult to read, the Recruiter will move on to the next one.

If the organisation you are applying to uses an Applicant Tracking System to scan CVs and match them to the job requirements, by making your margins tiny, you run the risk of the software only scanning part of your sentences. It may miss off the first and last words if your margins are too small.

Set your margins to normal and your font to arial, calibri or similar in a size 11.

3. You talk about what you were responsible for and not what you achieved

Take a look at the two examples below and which would you pick?

  • Responsible for a sales team of 10 and a budget of £200k. Delivered the strategy and direction for the team.

  • Managed a team of 10 regional sales managers to deliver the business growth strategy increasing sales by 20%.

If you simply list what you did, you miss out on what is of interest to a recruiter. They are looking for what skills you have and what business results you achieved, because they want you to bring that experience with you.

By making sure each role in your career history has a set of accomplishments, rather than tasks you will set yourself apart from the majority of other candidates.

4. You include all your career history right back to your first role.

Recruiters are interested in your recent experience. Your CV should showcase somewhere between 10 – 15 years of work history. I’ve known some recruiters say that if you haven’t done what is required for their role in the last 5 years, they aren’t interested!

The past 10 – 15 years should give you ample opportunity to showcase up to date key skills and how you match the job description of your next role. Your CV isn’t about you telling them everything, it’s about telling them what is relevant for their role. If you are applying for a job as an Accountant your job working in a bar while studying at University 16 years ago is unlikely to bag you the role. They are more interested in the Management Accountant role you are currently in, so give it the space it deserves and ditch the older role.

By limiting your career history to this shorter period of time it will also help you create a more timeless CV and avoid age discrimination.

5. Including dates and all training and education

In the education section of your CV put the qualification first, this is what the Recruiter needs to know. Where you obtained the qualification is secondary.

You don't need to include dates, omitting them can help you create a timeless CV and avoid age discrimination.

Only include training and education that is relevant to the role that you are applying for.

Whilst you loved that college course in floristry in 1999 and are proud of it, if it’s not relevant to the Recruiter you are better using the space to describe a great project you delivered because the role requires excellent project management skills.

We hope that this quick tips have given you given you a fresh look at your CV and some ideas of how to improve it.

However if it's made you realise you want support to rewrite it to grab a Recruiter's attention, contact us at cvhelp@snowlimitscoaching to book your CV review.

It only takes 90 minutes of your time, costs £199 and you’ll have a CV that secures you more interviews.



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