How to avoid common CV mistakes

By Hannah, Work It Out volunteer • 23 January 2023

In this blog, CV feedback volunteer, Hannah, takes you through some common mistakes that might be on your CV and how to avoid them. 

A CV is about getting the interview, not the job

A CV is there to grab someone’s attention, so try to think of it as a short summary with key points. The purpose of a  CV is to get an interview, not the job. Think about what information and facts need to be included to get a recruiter or hiring manager interested enough to give you a call. With this in mind, keep it concise and don’t write lots of text. Stick to 2 pages at the maximum. If you’ve just graduated or have less than 10 years of experience, it’s best to stick to one page. The best CVs I’ve ever seen used clear and articulate language and included meaningful data and insights.

Explaining your job history

The thing about your CV is that you know all the details around your job history. Not everyone that reads it will have heard of the places you have worked, what the brands stand for, what the company does or what acronyms and abbreviations mean. To be clear to a hiring manager, you should include a short summary of what each role involved and spell out any acronyms, including a small blurb of what each role you did was about. A good tip is to ask someone who hasn’t worked at the same company as you to read your CV to check.

Ready, set, formatting

How your CV looks is important and you should be using a professional template. I recommend sending it to potential employers as a PDF file because most computers and devices can open a PDF . It also means fonts and formatting will open and look as they are supposed to. A recruiter usually spends less than 10 seconds skimming a CV so having your document in an easy to access format is important.

Spell check is useful, but it is not perfect. Sometimes using auto correct can mean errors are left on your CV, so make sure you read, read again and triple check for spelling errors. The same goes for grammar: make sure you check for spelling and grammar mistakes as these can ruin an otherwise perfect CV.

Be honest about your achievements

Incorrect information is a common mistake on a CV, so make sure you’ve checked all your dates and facts. Don’t embellish or write anything which isn’t true that links to your work history or achievements. Your achievements are enough and are valid, just as they are.

You can get free feedback on your CV or cover letter by sending it to our Work It Out team, who will send you personalised suggestions and ideas on how to improve it. 

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