Friday, 13 February 2015

Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Writing Their CVs

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One thing that has always amazed me is how little time people spend on their CVs. They produce them as quickly as possible, spend minimal time checking for accuracy and somehow think it will get them a job every time they send it to a potential employer. To be successful in your search for a new job you need to look at your CV differently. Think about it as a living and breathing document that changes each time you send it away; a document that perfectly matches the employer’s needs. When your CV lands on the desk of an employer you get just one shot at being successful. A simple mistake can mean it’s headed straight to the shredder before they even get beyond the first couple of lines. With this in mind, here are ways to avoid the 10 mistakes most commonly made by people when they’re writing their CVs.

1. Doesn’t match the job description

The content of a CV is flexible; it should change with each job application and you have to match your skills with the skills mentioned in the job description. If you don’t, then it will be extremely difficult for the reader to see that you’re an ideal candidate for the vacancy. Read the job description, extract the skills and qualities mentioned and ensure you include them in your CV.

2. It's not pleasing to the eye

Many people will pick up a book based on the appearance of the cover and it’s the same for CVs. A nicely laid out CV has a far better chance of being read than one that looks like a mess. You’ve got to get the content right, but once you’ve done that make sure you spend some time on getting the layout perfect and pleasing to the eye.

3. An endless stream of skills

A potential employer is not looking for a list of skills you have to offer. You may well be enthusiastic, hardworking, motivated, dependable, assertive, confident and reliable but it just looks like a list of skills and qualities you acquired from a “Words to Include in Your CV” book. It’s much better to focus on the skills and qualities mentioned in the job description and then describe how you have used them. For example, you might want to tell them that you have used leadership skills to motivate your team and increase sales within your department by 40%.

4. No current information

This is a problem for people who have been unemployed for more than a year. Your CV can look like you’ve fallen off the face of the earth since your last job! To make your CV appear current you need to show that you’re doing something now. This could be voluntary work or a workplace-related course, such as first aid, manual handling or health and safety. By having this on your CV you show that you haven’t been idle since your last employment and have been actively improving your chances of find a job.

5. Obvious untruths

No employer is going to have an ounce of interest in a liar. Your CV needs to be the truth. That doesn’t mean you have to tell them everything, just don’t make up anything and check that your dates don’t conflict and cause suspicion.

6. Spelling mistakes

We all have words we struggle with and we need to use available resources to ensure these mistakes don’t creep into our CVs. Always use the spellchecker when writing your CV. You might also want to consult a dictionary or ask someone else if you’re not sure. My rule when reading CVs is that I will allow one spelling mistake. Beyond that, it goes in the bin!

7. Disorganised

Potential employers look for different things in CVs. They might want to read about your training and qualifications, or they might want to read about your work history. Therefore, all parts of your CV should be easily identifiable with clearly visible headings. If it’s a struggle to find the part they’re looking for, they will soon give up.

8. Information overload

It’s difficult to get the balance right between not saying enough and saying too much. The rule of thumb is to be guided by the job description. If it’s not mentioned in the job description then you can probably leave it out of your CV or at least keep it to an absolute minimum. Always be guided by what they are asking for, rather than what you want to tell them.

9. Too many pages

Some people are passionate about sharing their entire work history on their CVs. As a result, we end up with CVs that are four, five or six pages long. Employers simply don’t have the time to wade through all that information, especially if what they’re looking for could have been presented far more succinctly. Your CV should be no longer than one or two pages. If you can’t narrow it down to that then you’re almost definitely giving them information overload!

10. Where’s the passion?

When a potential employer reads a CV they want to get the sense that the person has an enthusiasm for the vacancy; that it’s the kind of work they love doing or would love to do. Many employers would much rather take on someone with enthusiasm that they can train to do the job, rather than someone who really doesn’t seem to care. Show you have some passion for the job.

Gary Bedingfield has worked with thousands of individuals during his 15 years in the employability support field, ranging from those in management positions to long-term unemployed and youngsters starting their careers. His Successful CVs workshops are delivered in-house throughout Scotland. For more information, visit the Gary Bedingfield Training website.