Tuesday 12 November 2013

Common CV Mistakes

Your Resume or CV is one of the most important documents that you may write in your career. Mistakes in your CV could therefore cost you the opportunity of a lifetime. Here are some common errors to be avoided while writing your CV:
  1. Spelling Mistakes: Spelling mistakes can leave a poor impression. So have your CV read by someone to remove such errors before you go ahead and apply for a job.
  2. Factual mistakes: Incorrect tenure in an organisation, incorrect education details, chronology of experience, can all lead to misunderstandings.
  3. Long flowing sentences: This distracts the scanning eyes of a Recruiter due to the limited time they allocate to reading CVs. My suggestion to all, make some key bullet points in your resume that would summarise your experience, skills and achievements.
  4. Formatting: The size and type of font chosen can have an impact on the readability. Please do not highlight unnecessary points with colourful fonts, keep it simple and to the point.
  5. Incorrect contact information: This being the second most critical data after your experience and skills must be correctly presented. You should mention both your present and permanent addresses with direct contact numbers such as your mobile and landline number. If these details are not listed you might miss an opportunity by a missed call.
  6. Lack of objective/focus: Unclear objectives can leave a Recruiter guessing which field or type of job you are interested in. A great objective statement clearly defines your career goal aligned with the job you are targeting for.
  7. Length: The CV should be descriptive enough to explain what your key skills are, yet short enough to retain interest of the Recruiter.
  8. To add this, you should also know that a Cover Letter adds a few stars to a great CV. It highlights your interest and summarises your objective for applying for a particular profile. So, once you have worked on your CV, get working on your Cover Letter. This can greatly increase your chance of getting an interview call, which will be your key to securing an opportunity.A cover letter should be sent out with every CV. The cover letter is your sales document. It will augment your CV.
It is quite easy to extend the truth but doing this will not help your situation. Some people try changing the dates of employment or education to hide the gaps. Some may mention a position and over exaggerate on the duties. This could be an embarrassing situation and you could get caught out by the interview questions.

Personal information, like age, gender, and head shot should not be included on your CV (unless you are a performing art student). Research has found that a third of people wouldn’t mention their children on a CV and 15 per cent say they wouldn’t cite their age. But do you risk coming across as difficult and paranoid if you don’t do so?

Filter out information that might seem irrelevant to the position. Be wise in choosing certain facts to be included on your final CV. Untargeted - though you may be sure your skills and experience are a good match for the role, a generic (or 'cookie cutter' CV) may not show it.
Use an email address that is professional. Your professionalism has to come through in your CV.

It can be obvious that what is written is not in your own words when you do not speak like you write. It is important to prepare your CV in your own words.
Present your CV in a consistent layout. Set your margins evenly (right and left sides 1" margins; top and bottom). Have an even amount of space between each heading. Be consistent with your verbiage. For example, if you are describing your current job, use all verbs in the present tense.
Include dates on your CV. Leaving them out might seem like you are trying to hide certain information.

Do not use the same verbs to describe your work experience. Use a variety of action verbs to prove your transferable and diverse skills. Utilizing different action verbs can highlight the wide range of skills and knowledge that you possess.
Use the spell-check tool but the best proof reader is another set of eyes. Be sure that there are no spelling errors, poor word choice, or misuse of language. These mistakes are not acceptable as it might appear that you are negligent with your work.

Make sure that your document is legible. A recommended font size is 11 or 12.
Not accomplishments focused (I'll keep drumming this one in)

Then there’s the question of the personal statement. Personally, I hate the things: they are rarely more than a collection of bland, nauseating platitudes and clichés, which recruiters see all the time, and are about as revealing as your shoe size. No wonder the director of admissions at Cambridge has admitted that tutors at his university do not assign any marks to students’ essays on why they chose the subject they are applying for.
Companies, besieged by job applications, are increasingly using electronic scanning tools to automatically search CVs for certain phrases, so it may be that if you write a personal statement containing buzzwords such as “problem-solving and decision-making”, “oral and written communications”, “teamworking”, “leadership”, “project management”, “dynamic”, “driven” and “enterprising”, you have a better chance of getting your foot in the door.

There’s also the tricky question of photos (most recruiters say they’re unnecessary, but research shows that attractive people have a better chance of being recruited than the ugly, so if you’re hot, why not make the most of it?) and hobbies (no employer really cares that your interests include “going to the pub”, “eating” and “watching Friends”, but then the gap between work and leisure is blurring and so if you have, say, managed to run the New York marathon in an hour, it surely demonstrates certain admirable skills worth mentioning).

And if all this were not enough, there remains the challenge of actually remembering your achievements, a problem sometimes referred to as “achievement amnesia” and the reason that recruitment experts recommend updating your CV regularly. Initially, I struggled with this amnesia more than anything else, maybe in part because there haven’t been many achievements as such in the past decade.
A job applicant listed their interests as "cooking dogs" while another boasted of having "excellent poof-reading skills", a new survey of CV blunders has discovered.

Experts found that 94 per cent of job hunters risked missing out on vacancies through poor spelling, grammar or presentation on their CVs. In some cases, applicants' attempts to impress potential employers failed through the odd missed word, with phrases such as: "I was responsible for dissatisfied customers."
For others, the omission of a single letter consigned their CV to the dustbin: "I am a public relations officer." And sparing use of the comma led to seemingly embarrassing disclosures of equal note: "My interests include cooking dogs and interesting people."

Examples of CV blunders:
  • My interests include cooking dogs and interesting people
  • As security guard my job is to pervert unauthorised people from coming onto the site
  • I am a pubic relations officer
  • I was responsible for dis-satisfied customers
  • My role involved coaching and mentioning
  • I have excellent editing and poof-reading skills
  • I relieved the conference manager
  • I am a prooficient typist
  • Socially I like to dine out with different backgrounds
  • I get well with all types of people
  • I was responsible for fraudulent claims
  • While working in this role, I had intercourse with a variety of people
  • Experienced sheet mental worker
  • Highly adept at multi-tasting
  • Left last four jobs only because the managers were completely unreasonable
But, slowly, it became evident that such amnesia is probably a good thing, because, let’s face it, if you can’t remember an achievement, it probably isn’t worth remembering, let alone worth including in a CV, which in turn means you are less likely to fill your résumé with inconsequential nonsense and commit the No 1 crime of CV writing: excessive length.

The fact is that there is no one on this planet, up to and including Neil Armstrong, whose achievements could not be boiled down to one side of A4, although the paradox here, to judge from the CVs I have seen recently, is that the less successful you are, the harder you find it to digest your achievements.

Once you’ve, say, walked on the Moon or become President of the United States or written Harry Potter, the urge to mention that you were litter monitor for an entire term at Woden Juniors in 1987 doesn’t feel so strong.
Indeed, I would extend this point and say that brevity is the key rule of CV-writing, the only maxim really worth remembering when embarking on the enterprise, encompassing, as it does, the necessity of:
  • not waffling;
  • not writing “curriculum vitae” in large letters at the top of the sheet of paper, because it’s obvious a CV is a CV and you might misspell “curriculum vitae” while you’re at it;
  • avoiding negativity;
  • not framing your CV with squiggly red lines and heart shapes (unless you are going for a job on a teenage girls magazine);
  • not banging on about your gap year in Australia on the pretence that it helped you to develop as a human being when we all know that you actually spent a year getting smashed, stoned and laid; (f) not taking a match to the edges of your CV and proclaiming in a note: “As you can tell from the singe marks, I’m hot property”;
  • not writing “Yes, please” next to “sex”;
  • not mentioning that you were chairman of the fundraising committee at Wulfrun College before noting that your last job involved working as finance director of a FTSE 100 company;
  • not attaching a note to your contact details explaining that potential employers should leave messages with your mum, in the event that you’re not at home; and, most important,
  • not sending your CV to anyone and everyone, in particular to random business columnists whose total lack of authority extends to being unable to offer employment.
Being unfocused and untargeted in this market is the worst thing you can do. When looking for a new role, too many people are still using a scattergun approach – firing out CVs everywhere and applying for anything they can get hold of. A more effective method is to use TARGETED CVs to be clear about what you want, why you want it and why you’re obviously the one to do it.

A targeted CV can be a combination of functional and chronological CVs however; all the detail included will be written with a clear objective in mind, as opposed to a general overview. This style is useful when:
  • You have a specific job to go for, or are responding to a particular job advert.
  • You want to emphasise skills and achievements, not necessarily acquired in your most recent work, or which were obtained outside paid employment.
  • Adopting this style will, by its nature, mean you are likely to have a number of versions of your CV, which you adapt accordingly.
Imagine a conversation with a self-described envisioneer who, when it comes to mission critical, is on the cutting edge, a proactive people-person capable of meticulously strategizing a paradigm in the aggregate. Whoa. Now imagine sitting in a human resources office and spotting that kind of jargon on a résumé. Double whoa. For those so "orientated," Lindsay Capobianco, co-author of the online "Resume Dictionary," has one word of advice: Repurpose." And should there be any doubt about whether, well, "recontextualizing" is really the right way to go, Capobianco recommends job-seekers seek out a decidedly low-tech reference point. It's called a dictionary.

Though online job sites make it easy for you to apply for a position with the simple click of the mouse, don't blindly send your CV to every company you come across. Hiring managers seek tailored CVs that tie a job seeker's unique skills and abilities to the requirements of the position. Take the extra time and effort to customise your application materials to each opportunity as any information you gathered during your research can prove particularly valuable here.
This style of CV is best to use when you are aiming for one specific type of job. As such, the CV can only be written with the job in mind. Although much of the content of the CV may be the same as used in the previous styles, this one will be tailored accordingly. Greater emphasis will be given to detail that relates specifically to the job in question.

When deciding which type of CV is best for you, keep the following in mind:
  • It may appropriate to have more than one version of your CV.
  • Different styles of CV are useful to have, depending on your circumstances and objectives.
  • Your CV must look good and be easy to read.
  • Tailor your CV to a particular job in order to draw attention to relevant skills and experience.
  • Jargon should only be used when you know the reader will understand it
Here are a few more CV errors, mistakes and probably urban myths. I'll leave it to you to decide if they are true or not. 
  • "My intensity and focus are at inordinately high levels, and my ability to complete projects on time is unspeakable."
  • "Education: Curses in liberal arts, curses in computer science, curses in accounting.
  • "Instrumental in ruining entire operation for a Midwest chain store."
  • "Personal: Married, 1992 Chevrolet."
  • "I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse."
  • "I am a rabid typist."
  • "Created a new market for pigs by processing, advertising and selling a gourmet pig mail order service on the side."
  • "Exposure to German for two years, but many words are not appropriate for business."
  • "Proven ability to track down and correct erors."
  • "Personal interests: Donating blood. 15 gallons so far."
  • "I have become completely paranoid, trusting completely nothing and absolutely no one."
  • "References: None, I've left a path of destruction behind me."
  • "Strengths: Ability to meet deadlines while maintaining composer."
  • "Don't take the comments of my former employer too seriously, they were unappreciative beggars and slave drivers."
  • "My goal is to be a meteorologist. But since I possess no training in meteorology, I suppose I should try stock brokerage."
  • "I procrastinate--especially when the task is unpleasant."
  • "I am loyal to my employer at all costs. Please feel free to respond to my resume on my office voicemail."
  • "Qualifications: No education or experience."
  • "Disposed of $2.5 billion in assets."
  • "Accomplishments: Oversight of entire department."
  • "Extensive background in accounting. I can also stand on my head!"
  • Cover letter: "Thank you for your consideration. Hope to hear from you shorty!"
Stuff you may want to check before you send your CV to that would-be employer:
Date of birth incorrect (DoB) - you haven't put todays date by mistake have you?
Misspellings. You may have a degree, but if the course name is spelled incorrectly you really aren't making the most of your education.
Capitalisation. Job titles, names and places, companies and the first word of every sentence should start with a capital letter. NOT EVERY LETTER! You may as well hand write your CV with a crayon. This is possibly one of the most common CV mistakes.
Reverse chronological order. Newest stuff should always go at the top.
Wrong contact details. Changed your mobile? Changed your email address? Make sure its reflected on your cv. Also, email addresses are not case sensitive, unlike CV reviewers.
Email addresses. Try to keep it sensible. is unlikely to impress the Board of Governors at the school you are hoping to run. Get a new one from
Remember: There is no perfect way to write a CV, only 'an appropriate way'.

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