30 MISTAKES & REASONS THAT WILL GET YOUR CV REJECTED OR ACCEPTED ON THE SPOT, DURING A JOB APPLICATION.
With a CV, first impressions count. When your CV is in front of a recruiter, it will typically get between 10 and 30 seconds of their time to impress them before they move on…
To be in with a chance of getting a job interview, you really need to master the art of writing an attention grabbing CV and know how to avoid the pitfalls that could destroy your chances.
1) A “really cool” Email Address
email@example.com is not quite what we are looking for here…. It takes 5 minutes to set up a ‘professional sounding’ email address via Hotmail, Yahoo, Google or any of the other free email providers.
I have seen some appalling email addresses and they give us an instant negative perception of a candidate. What a shame it would be to be the perfect fit for a position only to fall at the first hurdle because of your ‘cute’ email address?
2) Spelling & Grammar
No real excuses for this, but it’s amazing the number of CVs that we see with spelling mistakes and poor grammar. Try to remember that this is a document that represents you and any mistakes will reflect on you and spoil any chance of an interview. Your CV is simply a document that gets you an interview….not a full blown sales pitch.
3)Check and recheck your CV once again. And then pass it onto a friend who will able to check it and give you some constructive criticism. One great way to check your CV is to sit down and read it out loud. This will flag up any sections that may be too long or may need more punctuation.
4)A Picture or a URL Link
This may be something that is acceptable elsewhere, but including a headshot on your CV might cause some amusement to the recruiter, but will probably just get your CV one step closer to the ‘no’ pile.
Unless the line of work requires that you have the right image for the role, i.e. acting or modelling, then there is absolutely no reason to include a lovely photo of yourself. A candidate will be judged on their ability to do the job based on their skill, work history and education not because they have a nice smile
You should also stick to a word format for the CV and not a PDF or a ZIP file, etc. Give the recruiter a valid reason not to open up your CV and they’ll take it! And remember that it will be the Word based CV that gets onto to the recruiters HR systems and posted on to the job boards.
And if you are a graphic designer or multimedia developer, resist the temptation to simply send a link to download your CV from your homepage. Again, just a simple Word based CV will suffice and you can always direct a recruiter towards some supporting material once you grab their interest.
You must ensure that when you list your jobs that you have accurate start and finish dates; usually stipulating the month and year will be sufficient. A CV without this information will be rejected because the recruiter will simply think you are trying to hide something.
There is nothing worse than seeing a CV on screen or paper and spending ages trying to decipher where each section starts and ends. Poor formatting won’t just turn off the recruiter it could also put a candidate at a real disadvantage when it comes to online job boards. Some job boards and specialist recruitment applications will struggle to correctly display a poorly formatted CV and in this day and age most worthwhile recruiters and major employers use a customized system to manage the volume of applications that the internet often delivers.
7)Writing a Novel?
There are differing opinions on how long a CV should be; some say 2, some say no longer than 3 pages. Most companies who are recruiting will only be interested in the last 5 to 10 years of your career, no longer than that, and obviously the most recent couple of positions will probably be the reason that you have got the interview in the first place.
So, don’t waffle! Try and keep your CV to 3 pages maximum. If you have over 10 years’ experience at work, keep your work history after this just listed by company and position.
Equally, don’t be afraid to shout about your achievements. A CV that looks light on information will be as readily discarded as the one which reads like an autobiographical epic!
8)Too Much Personal Information
Just like the pointless process of attaching a picture to your CV, including too much personal info that is unrelated to the job is a waste of space and could be harming your chances of getting a job.
You’re not pitching for a date, so does a recruiter need to know your age, height, weight, religious or political affiliations, marital status or sexual orientation?
9) Misleading Information
More and more businesses are now carrying out extensive background checks prior to taking somebody on board. Nearly everybody embellishes their achievements in jobs on their CV, but stretching the truth could land you in hot water. We have seen many candidates trip themselves up, with the most common misleading information being put on CVs being:
– The inaccuracy of dates to try and cover up job hopping or unexplained gaps in employment
– Inflated education achievements, including purchasing online degrees which are worthless
– Inflated salaries
– Exaggerated job titles
– Exaggerated career accomplishments
– Blatant lies in regards to roles and duties
10)Fonts, colours and formatting…
We get so many CVs where people go a bit ‘artistic’ and use 5 different fonts in all the colours of the rainbow. The golden CV rule is to keep to one single easy to read font like Calibri, Ariel or Times New Roman and to keep the font black. Avoid small or hard to read fonts and colours or background effects. Always keep the font size to at least 10. It is always worth printing out a copy and showing to people for their opinion and then taking that feedback on board.
Put yourself in the shoes of the recruiter. They want a nice punchy CV that quickly gives them all the info they need, they don’t want to plough through long paragraphs, nor will they probably have the patience to do so.
Your CV needs to be easy for the reader to scan and it should quickly get to the important meaty bits regarding your job history, skills and accomplishments.
Try and ensure that your paragraphs are relatively short and bulleted. Use plenty of white space, which will make your CV easier to digest.
12)Ensure your CV is bespoke
With the advent of the online job board, applying for positions has never been so easy. This unfortunately means that a lot of people have a scatter gun approach to job applications, firing off the same CV over and over regardless of what the role entails.
But gone are the days when it’s deemed acceptable to use a single CV to apply for all the job opportunities out there.
And although it may be time consuming, writing a bespoke CV for a particular job application will get you noticed above those that simply spam their CV at all and sundry.
If you can demonstrate via your CV and covering letter how ideally you would fit into a specific organisation, you will have a much better chance of clinching that job interview against the competition.
Just like a bespoke CV, a covering letter can often be perceived by candidates as a nice-to-have and not really a necessity. It can however be another key difference between clinching an interview or not.
A well written cover letter will spark an employer’s interest and immediately make them more eager to read your CV.
As with you CV, try to ensure that your cover letter doesn’t have that one-size fits all, generic feel. You want to keep it punchy, listing your strengths and exactly why you would be the perfect fit for the organisation you are applying to.
14) Wrong chronological order
Another classic faux pas is when candidates put their CV in the wrong chronological order. You should always list your most recent employment and latest achievements within that position.
15) Employment Gaps
In this age of layoffs, staff reduction and redundancy, employment gaps are likely to be something that a lot more people will have on their CV than ever before.
If this is you, the easiest way to trip yourself up is to stretch the job dates to cover an employment gap, but beware, as previously mentioned, more and more employers are doing checks to ensure that what a candidate puts on his CV rings true.
Whether it’s a sabbatical or a redundancy or if it’s because of health reasons, it’s always better to explain the gap on your CV. Leaving any doubt in the recruiter’s mind will simply give them a reason to think you are not the ideal candidate for the job.
16)Lack of employer info
Write a quick summary of the type of industry underneath the specific company on your CV, including address and website details, this will help the reader determine if it’s a direct or ancillary industry to the role.
17)Chancing your arm
One of the worst chores of a recruiter is sifting through hundreds of unsuitable applications for a particular role. As well as wasting a recruiter’s time, you could also give yourself a poor reputation by applying for several positions. And like the boy who cried wolf, when you do come to apply for a position that actually fits your credentials you may well miss out.
Adding as many pointless clichés to an introduction as you can will infuriate a perspective employee and be a complete turn off. So, you’re a hard-working, detail-orientated team player, with a strong work ethic who is looking for a new career challenge. Unfortunately you may have well have written blah, blah, blah for all the impact that statement will have made.
We have even come across CVs where people kick off with a Winston Churchill or Shakespearian quote. A guaranteed way to quickly get your CV binned.
A snappy introduction should mention which industries you have excelled in and what skills you would bring to your new role. Don’t waste this chance to impress by just rolling out some meaningless sound bites. Stick to the facts such as: I sold widgets to widget users in the greater metropolitan area.
Another classic jobseeker mistake is when candidates try to make themselves sound far more interesting than they think they are by listing unusual hobbies. If someone states that they have “an interest in mud wrestling” or “collecting pepper pots” it will hardly give the impression of a balanced individual.
As with most sections on the CV, it’s important to create the right balance. You obviously don’t want come across as dull by listing reading and calligraphy as the main activities in your life, but equally, stating that you enjoy worm farming in your spare time, won’t do you any favours either.
Be honest about you hobbies and interests. Writing anything else will simply see you slip up under interrogation.
20)Lack of contact details
Double check your details. You’d be amazed at just how many CVs we get through from candidates who have inaccurate contact details and are therefore oblivious as to why they are not getting any interviews!
Writing your CV in the 3rd person
Although actively encouraged by some recruitment agencies, writing a CV in the 3rdperson is simply seen as extremely annoying by the majority of recruiters.
Attempting the “One–Size–Fits–All” Approach
Whenever you try to develop a generic resume to send to all job ads, you almost always end up with something employers will toss in the recycle bin. Your lack of effort screams, “I’m not particularly interested in your company. Frankly, any ol’ job will do.”
Employers want to feel special and want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organization.
21)Highlighting Duties Instead of Accomplishments
Your resume needs to show how good you are at your job, but it’s all too easy to slip into a mode where you simply start listing your duties. For example:
Attended group meetings and recorded minutes
Worked with children in a day-care setting
Updated departmental files
That’s more or less an echo of your job description. Employers, however, don’t care so much about what you’ve done as what you’ve accomplished in your various activities. One of the most basic resume tips is to go beyond showing what was required and demonstrate how you made a difference at each company, providing specific examples. They’re looking for statements more like these:
Recorded weekly meeting minutes and compiled them in a Microsoft Word-based file for future organizational reference
Developed three daily activities for preschool-age children and prepared them for a 10-minute holiday program performance
Reorganized 10 years worth of unwieldy files, making them easily accessible to department members
Need help? Ask yourself these questions:
How did you perform the job better than others?
What were the problems or challenges faced? How did you overcome them? What were the results? How did the company benefit from your performance?
Did you receive any awards, special recognitions, or promotions as a result?
22) Going on Too Long or Cutting Things Too Short
Many people try to squeeze their experiences onto one page, because they’ve heard resumes shouldn’t be longer. By doing so, job seekers may delete impressive achievements. Other candidates ramble on about irrelevant or redundant experiences. Despite what you may read or hear, there are no real rules governing resume length. Why? Because human beings, who have different preferences and expectations where resumes are concerned, will be reading it.
That doesn’t mean you should start sending out five-page resumes, of course. Generally speaking, you usually need to limit yourself to a maximum of two pages. But don’t feel you have to use two pages if one will do. Conversely, don’t cut the meat out of your resume simply to make it conform to an arbitrary one-page standard. When writing your resume, ask yourself, “Will this statement help me land an interview?” Every word should sell you, so include only the information that elicits a “yes.”
23) Bad Summary
Many candidates lose their readers right at the beginning, with their career summary. Employers do read this portion of your resume, but often they plow through vague pufferies like, “Accomplished professional seeking career growth.” Such statements are overused, too general, and waste valuable space.
Give employers something specific and, more importantly, something that focuses on their needs as well as your own. Example: “An accomplished marketing manager that developed award-winning campaigns for Fortune 500 clients that contributed to 50% increase in stock value.”
24)No Action Verbs
Avoid using phrases like “responsible for.” Instead, use action verbs. Not only do these words help to show off your initiative, they also help punch up the overall tone of your resume. For example:
Resolved user questions as part of an IT help desk serving 4,000 students and staff.
Increased organic search visits 20% year over year
Developed a comprehensive onboarding program for new hires
25)Leaving Off Important Information
You may be tempted, for example, to eliminate mention of the jobs you’ve taken to earn extra money for school. Typically, however, the soft skills you’ve gained from these experiences (e.g., work ethic, time management) are more important to employers than you might think.
26)Visually Too Busy
If your resume is wall-to-wall text featuring five different fonts, it will most likely give the employer a headache. So show your resume to several other people before sending it out. Do they find it visually attractive? If what you have is hard on the eyes, revise.
27)Incorrect Contact Information
I once worked with a student whose resume seemed incredibly strong, but he wasn’t getting any bites from employers. So one day, I jokingly asked him if the phone number he’d listed on his resume was correct. It wasn’t. Once he changed it, he started getting the calls he’d been expecting. Moral of the story: Double-check even the most minute, taken-for-granted details sooner rather than later.
28)Follow This Final Resume Tip
There are plenty of pitfalls to duck and dodge when writing a resume, so when you finally have it in good shape, you’ll want to get it reviewed to be extra-certain that it’s ready to go. Need help? Send it to the experts at Monster for a free evaluation. We’ll look for any lingering errors so you can correct them and start your job search with confidence. Consider it an insurance policy for your resume.