Posted by: Jo Banks
The top three mistakes people make on CVs and what to do about it...
I’m happy to say that over the past 11 years, since setting up my own coaching business, I’ve helped thousands of job hunters find and land their dream jobs through my corporate outplacement programmes and online courses.
During that time, as you would imagine, I’ve honed an essential set of tools for job hunters, which, when used as instructed, deliver consistent, exceptional results.
In this article, using knowledge from working with so many job seekers, plus my own 20 years as an HR professional (prior to setting up my own business), as well as incorporating feedback from countless resourcing teams, recruitment consultants and clients, I will explain the top three mistakes candidates make with their CVs and how to avoid them.
1. Not Tailoring Your CV
One of the most common complaints I get from job hunters when I start working with them is, ‘I’ve applied for 10/50/100 jobs and not got an interview. I can’t understand what’s going on!’
When I ask, ‘Did you send the same CV for every job?’ Invariably the answer is, ‘Yes!’
Competition for roles is fierce right now. As a result, recruiters can afford to be even more selective than ever before. Therefore, they need to be able to see ON THE FIRST PAGE, how your skills and experience match those required for the job.
With increased candidate numbers, recruiters don’t have time to sift through multiple pages to establish a match; therefore, it’s your job to make it easy for them.
Not tailoring your CV is nothing short of lazy, and it will affect results; you get out what you put in.
How to Tailor Your CV
2. Regurgitating Your Job Description
Over the years, I’ve seen so many poor CVs where candidates have obviously copied from the job description and pasted it into a CV template. However, you are writing a CV, NOT a job description!
I recommend writing an ‘achievement-based CV’, i.e. it should be focused on what you’ve achieved, not simply your daily tasks/duties/responsibilities.
Your achievements are what makes you different from your competitors. For example, you can have exactly the same type of role, with precisely the same duties as someone else; however, I guarantee that your achievements will be different from theirs. Recruiters want to know what they are going to get if they choose you.
Give some thought to what you can do for them, i.e. what value can you add to their business? If you’ve applied for the job, there’s probably a good chance you can do it (that you have the skills and experience), but to what degree/level varies from person to person, and that’s where achievements come in.
How to Write an ‘Achievement’ Based CV
3. Making Your CV Too Long
Many people maintain the same CV they had when they left school/college, building job upon job, commonly ending up with 5/6 pages.
One of the most significant battles I have with clients (especially my more senior ones) is getting them to edit their CV back down to 2-2.5 pages of A4. They like to cling on to things that they did maybe 10-15 years ago, that are now significantly out of date, or that they’ve far surpassed with subsequent achievements in the intervening years.
You shouldn’t need any more than a couple of pages, no matter how long you’ve been working, how many jobs you’ve had or your level/grade. Again, your CV should be concise and tailored to the role; removing anything that doesn’t add value, or that doesn’t back up your application. Be ruthless. As I’ve said previously, no recruiter has time to wade through a CV that’s 5/6 pages long and full of irrelevant information.
How to Edit Your CV
Of course, there are many more things to consider when writing a CV; for more top tips on this and other job-hunting related topics, click here to sign up for my FREE ‘Your Dream Job’ mini-course.
If you would like access to my full ‘Write a Brilliant CV’ course, which includes step by step guidance on creating an achievement-focused CV, click here.
Visit the website for Jo Banks' first book, Thoughts Become Things now available in paperback and Kindle formats.
Visit the website for Jo Banks' new book, Land Your Dream Job Now! now available in paperback and Kindle formats.
Jo's eighth book is coming soon... Packed with inspirational hints and tips to help you live a happier, healthier life.