How many are you making?

1.  The ‘thud’ factor  – the CV thuds onto the desk of the recruiter – sometimes 6 or 7 pages long.  Their heart sinks as they have yet another ‘novella’ to wade through.  Or, more commonly, they simply skim read and discard it, having missed the gems embedded within.  Many CVs are far too long so keep it short, ideally, two sides of A4 (three sides is the absolute maximum if you have a long career), and ensure all the key information is on the front page.

2.  Too cluttered or too flashy – some CVs are only two pages long but so densely packed with information that they are virtually unreadable.  Others aim to attract the attention through adding pictures, flashy fonts, colours or other gimmicks.  Don’t do it.  Avoid both of these extremes and keep it simple.  Include plenty of white space, allowing a margin of at least 2.5cm on all sides.  Avoid underlining as this can cause problems for scanners – use bold instead.  And use a business-like font – such as Arial, Verdana or GillSans. Sans serif fonts like these are essential if your CV is likely to be scanned.

3.  Jargon and gobbledygook – your CV may be beautifully presented but if it is full of jargon, acronyms or terms specific to a particular organisation or sector, it will fall to the bottom of the pile.  The problem is these terms may not travel well and even if they do mean something to the interviewer(s), the person conducting the sift may be a junior HR manager who will not appreciate their full significance.  So cut out the jargon and ask someone else, unconnected with your organisation or profession, to quality assure it for you.

4.  Responsibilities not achievements – employers are more interested in what you achieved in previous roles than your job responsibilities.  Provide clear evidence of your achievements,  quantifying these wherever possible, and ensure you bring out the impact on the organisation of your achievements.

5.  One size fits all –  too many people send out the same generic CV  to everyone.  With competition high for jobs, it is essential that you adapt your CV for each role.  It is useful to create a master and then tailor it for each position.  Ensure you read the job advert, job description and person specification and look for key words and competencies to work out the critical skills and experience required.  Gather intelligence through your network about the organisation and the role.  Make sure you reflect back to the recruiter what they are really looking for – providing you can back it up at interview of course!

For more tips on CVs see my leaflet “Top Tips for a Great CV”which you  can download by completing the sign up box on the right.