5 CV sins: Howlers to edit out NOW

07 May 2013 by Sarah Leembruggen.

Your CV is a marketing tool to sell your skills and achievements. You want it to be a 2-page celebration of your career to date, not a carbon-copy of the other 25 CVs in the hiring manager’s inbox. As recruiters we frequently see the following CV sins:

Spelling mistakes and typos: Not acceptable. Companies are unforgiving and an error can forfeit an interview.  Liaising and affect/effect are two of the most common mistakes on CVs we see.  Spell check everything before hitting ‘send’.  Repeatedly review your CV to be sure there are no errors. You wouldn’t present a pitch, or send out a press release with typos in it, so don’t rule yourself out of a job by being sloppy. Also look out for words your spell check won't pick up, like those that are correctly spelt but used in the wrong context. For instance, their and there, to and too, bear and bare.

Long paragraphs: Don’t let great content get lost in wordy text. It’s harsh but true; recruiters and clients read for speed so if you’ve written a detailed sentence which runs over two lines, you can almost guarantee is won’t be read. Bullet point your CV and ensure at least the first few bullets under each job have impact.

Writing in the first or third person: “I did this” “I did that” makes you sound like a junior applicant and referring to yourself by name “Rebecca has achieve x”  will be viewed as pompous.  Use a bullet point instead and cut to the chase – eg "Initiated a highly successful new business strategy for the company which increased revenue by £x amount."

All about responsibilities and very few achievements: We have moved into a market whereby you need to show evidence that you are a safe hire, someone who will make an impact quickly to the business. You need to show evidence of your achievements, ideally on every bullet point.  Each point should be a specific outcome rather than just listing your responsibilities.

...With strong communication skills: That should go without saying – you work in the communications business. Concentrate on conveying how effectively you communicate, through management and mentoring, client meetings, pitches or media briefings. Be specific with examples to substantiate your outcomes. 

For more advice on how to make your next successful career go to The Works blog

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