How are you being portrayed by your CV? We look at the mistakes you are probably making

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So you’ve written your personal statement, added a plotted history of your education and work experience and listed out a few of the things you’re interested in, formatted it and there you go, you have a brand new CV.

Wait, was I meant to put this on two pages or one? Do I put the work history first or the education? The truth is those things are important, but there are far more important mistakes than layout, so here’s your guide to avoiding them:

  • Your generic personal statement: “I am a highly motivated individual who works well on my own and as part of a team”. This line (or similar) is seen over and over by hiring managers up and down the country but what does it actually say about you? All of those things should be a given so  your personal statement should really reflect something unique about you. Tell employers what you’re truly passionate about or something you’re really proud to have achieved.
  • Focussing too much on your education: Your education is important and some managers still require a certain level of education before you even get your foot in the door. Despite that, employers don’t need to know every GCSE in detail. List your highest level of education and summarise the rest (e.g. 8 GCSE’s A*-C), unless there is something highly relevant to the role you’re applying for
  • Saying too much, without saying anything at all: Everyone has been guilty of it at some point in time, but when describing anything, it is tempting to pad it out with complex words in an attempt to make you look smart. Using long words is no substitute though, for a concise, achievements focussed description of what you’ve done e.g. Grew Twitter followers by 100% (to 5,000) over 3 months
  • Including random or fake interests: “I like to read and excercise” is a common one, even for people who haven’t read anything since ‘We’re all going on a bear hunt’ or ran anything other than a hot bath. Including interests is great, but make sure you actually do them regularly and could answer well, when questioned about them in an interview.
  • Not including extra-curricular activities: Tied into the above, people tend to think that they can’t add something to their CV unless it is education or work based. This is absolutely not the case and in fact many employers skim over that stuff and want to see what else you’ve done. If you’ve trekked to the north pole, learned and instrument or captained a sports team, add them to your CV. These activities help highlight your soft skills such as resilience, teamwork and leadership
  • Not triple checking it: Your CV is the first thing hiring managers see. I’m sure you have all heard the stats that employers tend to look at CV’s on average 6 seconds so you’d better make sure your CV doesn’t get thrown out because of a typo. Read it, Re-Read it and have someone else read it, no seriously, do it.

Of course the golden rules do help. The fewer pages the CV is on and the nicer the layout the easier it is for an employer to digest all of the information, so do try to follow them. Above all else, try to make sure that your profile shows who you are and what you can contribute to the business. It isn’t a massive leap for an employer to work out that if you’ve stuck at things and have achieved a lot that you can transfer those skills to their business. Get your CV sorted, get your foot in the door and get a job!

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