How You Could Be Sabotaging Your Job Search With CV Mistakes

cv mistakes

So, your CV is ready to send out to recruiters or hiring managers, and you’re poised to take those all-important interview invites. But what happens if you don’t grab their attention?

Whilst you shouldn’t beat yourself up about lost opportunities, you should make sure you haven’t accidentally sabotaged your job search with the following CV mistakes.

You haven’t proof-read

You may have a packed CV, but if it’s littered with spelling mistakes and bad formatting, it won’t perform well overall. Typos are easily made, but easily fixed. To make things easier, consider printing your CV and reading it aloud, rather than staring at a computer screen.

Of course, you can enlist friends and family to check it, too – a fresh pair of eyes can make a huge difference, plus other people will pick up on the most interesting parts of your CV and the parts that don’t work so well.

Preferably, find someone who works in your industry and can tell you if you’ve picked a format that isn’t popular, or you haven’t included enough industry buzzwords. As Lifehacker suggests, ask your friend when they started to skim-read and lose interest in your CV, because it’s likely a recruiter would do the same.

You can’t sell your skills and experience

This is not the time to generalise; a CV is the opportunity to drill down into specific parts of your career experience and really highlight the achievements and progress you made. Wherever possible, you need to give clear examples and include data to back up your claims, otherwise there’s no proof you’re ‘a hard worker’ or ‘an experienced team leader’.

How many big projects did you typically work on? How big was the team you led? Did you win any internal or external awards? The Muse has a useful guide to quantifying your CV statements, even if your job hasn’t involved working with numbers.

You don’t add keywords from a job description

Replicating keywords from the job description is a no-brainer: you’re subconsciously telling the recruiter you already have the skills and background to fit the role. If you can’t naturally fit the keywords into your CV, you have an early indication you may not be the right candidate.

As the Guardian notes, some hiring managers use computer technology called applicant tracking systems (ATS) to sift through CVs, and the computers will search for matching keywords. These could be anything from relevant responsibilities (‘social media manager’, ‘personal assistant’, ‘administrative tasks’ and ‘project management’) to the areas you’ve worked in (‘academic research’, ‘charity fundraising’, or ‘six years’ experience in finance’). It’s not enough to imply you match the requirements – spell it out in black and white!

You’re not prepared to create a video CV if required

Video CVs are becoming more popular, especially for media and marketing-related jobs, so you may be asked to create one as part of your application. It pays to have a rough plan of what you’d do in this situation: which room would you film in (with decent lighting, and nothing distracting in the background)? What would you wear? How could you summarise your skills and experience without reading from a script?

Take a look at these real-life video CVs to see what you should be doing. Notice the candidates are well lit and looking straight at the camera – it is at the right height for the video. Each candidate has worn smart clothing, they talk at a sensible pace, and they are smiling. A video CV shouldn’t look like a police interview! You must look as approachable as you would in a normal job interview situation. If you’re worried about appearing on camera, set aside time to practice, and ask more confident friends for tips.

Now you’ve un-sabotaged your CV, you stand a much better chance of getting a face-to-face interview for your dream job.


Polly writes for Inspiring Interns, your source for graduate careers advice, with a graduate recruitment agency to help find your next internship or job. Check out the latest graduate jobs listings on their website.



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