Biggest CV Mistakes

Are you having problems getting your CV past the HR department and into the hands of the hiring manager? In a competitive job market, it’s important that you give yourself the best chance to progress through the hiring process. If the HR team is overwhelmed with applicants, they may reject solid candidates just because the information they need is not immediately obvious.

Before applying for your next role, check your CV doesn’t suffer from these potentially fatal errors.

1. Poor Formatting

The content of your CV is more important than the layout, right? Wrong. If the layout is a mess, it tells the recruitment team that your attention to detail is poor and you’re comfortable delivering sloppy work. Check and double-check that the fonts are consistent, row heights or columns are consistent, and the overall look of the document is visually pleasing. Always save your CV as a PDF and check it again to make sure it looks exactly as you intend.

2. Chronological Order

Your CV should always start with your most recent position, and work backwards. The most relevant information must always be at the top, so putting your first entry-level job there makes no sense. Someone who is skimming your CV to check if you’re suitable may just look at the job title of your entry-level role, not notice the dates, and reject you as too junior.

3. Typos and Grammatical Errors

Always write your CV using a word processing application, even if you later transfer the text to a graphics package to deliver a nicer layout. Use the built-in spelling and grammar checkers, and when finished, put your CV away for a few hours or overnight, and read it again the next day. Read it out loud to make sure it makes sense, and have someone else proofread it.

4. Missing Dates

Don’t leave anything out of your CV. If you were unemployed, in hospital or taking a break for 6 months, you must account for the gap, stating what you were doing, or people will assume the worst.  Don’t try to conceal gaps by omitting the start and end months of your jobs. Stating that you worked in a role from “2018 – 2020” doesn’t tell the recruiter how long you spent there. It could be a favorable 3 years, if you were there from Jan 2018 – Dec 2020, or it could be a less desirable 1 year if you were there from Dec 2018 – Jan 2020. If it seems like you are hiding information, the recruiter will assume the worst.

5. Missing Skills

If you are an expert accountant with strong skills in Xero, QuickBooks and SAP and you don’t mention those software packages, you will likely be rejected if knowledge of one of those is a mandatory requirement. Always check the mandatory requirements of the role and make sure it is mentioned on your CV if you have those skills. If you don’t have the mandatory skills, don’t include them on your CV of course, and consider not applying for the role to avoid ticking off the recruiters.