Are you sending out masses of CVs without a reply?  Perhaps the lack of response is down to the fact your CV needs a re-vamp.

This week our CV Essentials series has a wider lens, as we look at the 10 most common mistakes candidates make on their CVs.

Plenty of CV mistakes can be avoided, and while these may be small, they can have a big impact on the impression you send to future employers.

Read through these CV mistakes and then have a look at your own CV with a critical eye.  Perhaps a tweak here and there is all you need to ensure your CV sits at the top of the pile.

10 CV mistakes to avoid.

Spelling errors and bad grammar.

Despite being the easiest CV mistake to avoid, poor spelling and bad grammar are still so prevalent on many CVs we see.  It is essential that you, a trusted friend, colleague or family member proofread your CV for errors.

If you struggle with spelling and grammar, then run your CV through a check.  Software like Grammarly will identify errors for you and give you the options to amend.  Once complete, read it again.

We also recommend printing out your CV before you send it off. Errors are much easier to identify on paper than digitally.  In printing it out, you will also determine that the formatting is on point … more on formatting later!

Exaggerating the truth.

While it is important to tailor your CV to the job you are applying for, it is crucial you don’t exaggerate your abilities.  Writing that you are an expert in a particular area may seem like a quick win at the time, but if you go on to get that job, you will soon be found out.

Of course, confidence is important, but do not oversell yourself.  Instead, be honest about what you know but highlight you are keen to learn.  You can always evidence your ability and eagerness to learn by documenting an occasion where you have done so.

Remember; a skill can be taught, but once damaged your integrity is hard to re-establish.

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Poor Formatting.

Poor formatting is one of the first things a recruiter or hiring manager will notice on your CV.  It has the potential to reflect badly on you as it may appear you do not care about the detail.

Remember too, that many recruitment partners use a CRM database where your CV is parsed directly into the software.  Often such platforms don’t like text boxes, fancy formatting or pictures.  Once uploaded, these things can’t be seen, so don’t compromise straightforward simplicity for imagery, graphs or pictorial representations of skill.

Use a simple but professional font that is easy to read and ensure that it is consistent throughout the document.

Remember to allow white space…having areas without print makes your CV easier to read.

The buzzwords here; clean, scannable, and professional.

An unoriginal personal profile.

When you write this section, avoid using cliches.  These will only represent you as unoriginal.

Many CVs land at Ignite HQ outlining the candidate as “hardworking, driven….able to work independently and as part of a team”.

Of course, these are great skills to have but we would ask you to expand on this.  For example…How have you gained these skills and how do they relate to the job you are applying for?

A short, concise and authentic personal statement heading your CV is important.  Make sure it counts by giving an employer some idea of the type of person you are, your work ethic, your values and what motivates you.

If you feel this is something you struggle with, you may be interested to read our blog on The 10 most overused words on a CV and how to avoid them, here.

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Not focusing on your achievements.

When writing about your Career History, there is a tendency to write about your duties rather than your achievements.

We would recommend your CV focuses on what you have gained from your employment and in so doing what you can bring to a new company.

We suggest you try prioritising your key achievements followed by your skills & experience section.

Both should be factual, precise, and immediately easy to review.

Making your CV too long

As with so much, the mantra here is “Quality not Quantity”.  Your CV should be reflective of the role you are applying for.  Ideally, junior role CVs should not exceed 2 pages while senior level CVs can extend beyond this.

Your CV should work to highlight your skills, personality, career aspirations and education level.  Try not to “bulk it out” with irrelevant information-read your CV through the eyes of an employer and include only the information that pertains to one of the above categories.

Putting incorrect (or no) contact information.

Making mistakes here is perhaps the most obvious hurdle to an invite to interview.  Ensure your contact details are up to date and you haven’t made a typo in your email address or phone number.

Additionally here we can return to formatting.  Often these details are slotted neatly into text boxes which look great on a PDF.  However the CRM systems don’t like them!  So ensure that these crucial details are in the main body of your CV.

Not using an appropriate email address.

Put simply, the email address you set up when you were 15 is probably not the one you should be using!  In fact, putting an unsuitable email address will instantly derail your application.

You could be THE most professional and experienced candidate, but if your email address does not reflect this then it will certainly overshadow the rest of your application.

If you wish to keep your old email address, then do so. Just set up a new one that you use for job applications and professional correspondence.

Email concept with hands typing laptop on the blackboard background.

Not tailoring your CV to the specific role.

A generic CV that is sent out to multiple employers is lazy and does not demonstrate a commitment to the role you are applying for.

By tailoring your CV, you show that you have done your research into the role and the company.  Our tip here is to read the Job Description or advert thoroughly and pick up on the key words or phrases within it.

This works particularly well if you are applying for a job outside your original sphere of work.   You will draw the employer’s attention to relevant skills you’ve picked up in roles, even if the job itself wasn’t directly related.

Of course, it is beneficial if your previous experience has been in similar roles but if it’s not then tailoring your CV to highlight how you’ve gained useful experience in other positions is the next best thing.

Not including hobbies and interests.

More and more, employers are looking at company fit when they decide upon a new hire.  Showing your interests outside of work is a good indication of how you will fit in and work within a particular environment.

The things you are passionate about outside work can support your application.  These hobbies can show teamwork, leadership, time management and communication skills, as well as showing your dedication and commitment to unpaid or voluntary work.

Revisit and revise.

Now you know where you may be going wrong, we’d suggest you look back over your CV and see if any of these small – but impactful mistakes may be harming your chances in securing an interview.  Luckily, many are quick wins!

We specialise in tech, digital and data roles. We deliver the talent our clients need in order to take their businesses to the next level.

Are you a professional working in the tech space?  If so, why not head over to our job vacancies pages to browse our career-defining opportunities.






About the author: I manage the recruitment for a range of digital roles for my clients on both a retained and contingency basis. I specialise in senior and confidential appointments, always giving a first class representation of a client’s employer brand.

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