Friday, 22 July 2011

7 CV Blunders to Avoid

Setting out to draft your CV can be a daunting experience.  A blank sheet of paper awaits you, and you need to make decisions on layout, what sections to include, what dates you worked where.. the list goes on.

There are some blunders which crop up time and again, which you can avoid by paying attention to some quite simple tips:

  1. Don’t write essays.   If you write lots of long paragraphs in your CV you are dramatically reducing the chances of anyone reading it.  Your CV is analogous to a marketing brochure.  It should send clear, straightforward and easy to digest messages to your intended audience.   
  2. Don’t cram the space full.  Your messages will be lost if they are mired in a mass of text. Make sure you have a clear, simple layout using lots of white space, bold section headings and bullet points. Make your key skills easy to pick out, and relevant to the type of job you are applying for.
  3. Don’t include a picture.  Unless you are applying for a job in some European countries (eg Germany), a picture or other graphics are only expected on CVs for the media industry and graphic designers.  Putting in a photograph just invites the person reviewing your CV to make subconcious judgements based upon your appearance.
  4. Avoid using loads of different fonts or coloured fonts.  Multiple different fonts look messy. Stick to one font, and just vary the size for different levels of heading (eg Header 1 = your name = largest font size, then Header 2 = section headings = second largest size, then Header 3 = Company names = third largest size, etc).
  5. Don’t lie.  Don't even be tempted to exaggerate the truth a bit.  It might get you the interview, but then you will be quizzed face to face and asked to give examples to demonstrate the skills you claimed to have.  Interviewers may also check out your online profiles and/or take up verbal peer references either before or after the interview.  Failing all that, if you get offered a job based on a lie, you will then be expected to perform to the standard you let your new employer to expect...
  6. Don’t try and include everything you’ve ever done in your entire life.  While you need to avoid having gaps on your CV, there is no need to include the same level of detail about the bar jobs or retail work you did while a student as for your most recent information management role.  Devote more space and prominance to the most recent &/or most relevant skills and experience, which demonstrate your suitability for the jobs you are applying for.
  7. Avoid being so generic that it could be anyone’s CV.  This particularly applies to the profile section.  While it's OK to use 'How to...' books and articles for inspiration, don't just copy down a cool-looking list of 'action words' to create your profile.  Make sure you write something personal, accurate and relevant to your skills, your career goals and the type of job you hope to get.
If you follow these steps, and if you have done a thorough skills analysis before putting pen to paper, you will be able to create an effective CV and raise your chances of securing interview invitations.

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