At movemeon I see hundreds of CVs each month and you would be surprised how difficult some incredibly qualified people make things for themselves. Here I’ve attempted to put together a short list of the most easily remedied and highest impact mistakes I regularly come across.
1. IT’S SAVED IN WORD
It sounds so irrelevant, doesn’t it? Word vs PDF, what’s the difference? Let me tell you, it is minor but word takes a lot longer to open. When I read CVs ahead of checking in with a hiring manager, if I’m pressed for time Word CVs are often the ones that fall to the bottom of the priority list. They then get read in a rush, instantly disadvantaging the applicant. For me, opening a CV in word also opens it in a different place on my screen to PDFs and thus I am more likely to forget the one or two who opt not to submit in PDF. It sounds minor but when it comes to deciding who to call for an interview it always pays to be front of mind.
2. IT’S NOT PERSONALISED FOR THE JOB YOU WANT
The only piece of advice I give friends when they ask me to look over a CV for them (after all, you don’t want to take work home… even if it does try to wine and dine you) is to make sure that you have re-written your CV to highlight the relevant experience you have. Not only does this put your best foot forward, it also makes every subsequent step easier. Often I speak to hiring managers who aren’t convinced by the motivation of a great candidate (who really wants the job) because their CV looks like one used for generic applications. Simply making sure you mention projects in relevant industries and functions you have performed is a great way to say that you feel you belong in their world!
3. IT’S TOO LONG
Linked to the above, if you aren’t writing your CV for the opening there is an understandable temptation to put down everything you’ve done. Exhaustive lists are exhausting, show you understand what the role is about and leave something in reserve. The applications I find make it to the top of shortlists are those that succinctly demonstrate that they tick all the boxes with a controlled list of projects.
4. IT’S NOT CLEAR IF YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO WORK THERE
If you’re not based in the country you’re applying to work in and have existing work rights, make sure this is something mentioned in either the header or the footer of your CV. You make things difficult for a hiring team when you ask them to guess based on the languages you speak, where you went to university and where you started your career. Hiring teams sometimes have to deal with hundreds of applications and simply don’t have time to waste; so don’t give them any reason to think you might not work out.
5. IT’S NOT CHRONOLOGICAL
Some people opt to order their CV thematically according to the different types of experience they have. This makes reading rather confusing, as it becomes hard to track progression, understand moves into/out of industry and even to quickly understand how experienced you are.
6. YOU’VE OVERCROWDED WITH CHARTS, IMAGES AND GRAPHS
A picture can be worth a thousand words. Equally, it can be worth one and take up 10 times the space on a document already bursting at the seams with your achievements. If it doesn’t explain something you could type in the same space an image is probably just overcrowding. If you’re looking for a way to get across personality and fit (often the decisive factor for start- ups) a cover letter is a better way to get things across.
7. YOU’VE NOT EXPLAINED GAPS IN YOUR CV
Everyone needs to take a little time out, but avoid unexplained gaps where you can. Unknowns look ominous but saying that you took some time out to have/raise your kids or go travelling says a lot about you and is a great conversation point at interview.
8. YOU’VE NOT EXPLAINED YOUR IMPACT
Pointing out the relevance of your projects is important, but so is showing that you were able to get things done. Always say what your work resulted in if you can. Everyone loves a winner.
Best of luck job hunting (on movemeon!).
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Founded by two ex-McKinsey Consultants, Nick Patterson & Rich Rosser.
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