In today’s increasingly busy and information-driven world, time is the most valued resource. On average, you only have 7 seconds to capture a recruiter’s attention with your CV and make a good impression.
While writing your first CV may seem daunting, the easiest way to start is to get into the right mindset and be purposeful about what you want to achieve. Take some time to think about your strengths, weaknesses, and goals. Reflect on the work you would like to do, the roles you are applying for and what unique skills you have that might set you apart. After that it’s time for the most important — and perhaps most challenging — step: Putting it all on paper. Here are the 5 biggest CV mistakes to avoid:
1. Listing all your job descriptions and responsibilities
To capture the attention of the recruiter, you need to be able to articulate how your unique skills and experience are relevant for the role you are applying for. A CV is not an autobiography, but rather a marketing tool to show your competitive edge. It is an ever-changing document that you can use to communicate your brand and your unique skillset for the job you are applying for. You need to tailor the CV to the job you are applying for so only include relevant and marketable information.
2. Spelling and grammar mistakes
Attention to detail and communication skills are essential for most jobs. While a CV is certainly not a reliable assessment for these skills, recruiters use these as indicators to determine whether you are diligent in your work and can communicate clearly with your potential colleagues and clients. Re-read your CV a few times before submitting or ask a trusted friend to help. And always use the spell-check function if available.
3. Using a passive voice
CVs written in a passive voice can be too long, difficult to read and not as impactful (remember, only 7 seconds to get attention!). For example:
Passive voice: “50% growth in sales was achieved by the team led by myself over three years”
Make the verb active and use it in the beginning of the sentence. Use action words to show achievements more clearly and put the value on you, rather than the work. For example:
Active voice: “Led a team that achieved 50% sales growth in three years.”
Remember to use present tense for current experience and to use past tense for prior experience.
4. Too many formatting styles
Make your CV easy to read and navigate by using clear headings and spacing. Use bulleted statements, standard fonts and colors. Avoid using different font sizes or too many colors so that the recruiter can focus on your skills and experience instead of getting distracted by the format. Also, save the CV with your full name so that the recruiter can easily recall you.
5. Unnecessary Information
Unnecessary information wastes precious CV space. Some examples of what not to include in your CV:
- Your photo – There is absolutely no need to include a photo in your CV. A photo is irrelevant to your qualifications such as your work experience and skills. It may also open you to bias and discrimination.
- Personal pronouns – The CV is already all about you and there is no need to remind the recruiter with every sentence about that. Instead of “I achieved_____”, use “Achieved_____”.
- References – Most recruiters will ask for references once you make it to the final stages of the interview process. It is best practice to reach out to the people who will be acting as your referees before sharing their information with a recruiter.
By: Cassandra Crowe, CFA, Vice President T. Rowe Price Australia
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Date: 27 September 2022