Top tips for making a CV work for you

In our monthly column for the South Wales Echo, Gail Thomas, one of our Recruitment Consultants pre-warns jobseekers about some of the worst mistakes they could make when applying for a new role.

Thinking about securing a new job? The first step is to make sure your CV is up-to-date. Despite numerous websites online offering guidance about how to write a successful CV, many people do still make basic mistakes.

As a recruitment professional, I see time and time again CV’s littered with easily avoidable mistakes. First off, it’s important to remember that there’s no standard way of doing a CV; it isn’t a case of one size fits all. There are a number of variations, which means you need to know where to start or in some instances, what to take out.

Common mistakes

Ultimately, there is no perfect way to compile a CV but here are some common mistakes to avoid:

  1. Spelling mistakes – it’s never ok to send out a CV with errors in it. Spelling mistakes will make you look careless, one of the worst possible qualities in a candidate for any job. All computers have spell check, make sure you utilise it and if possible, have someone else proof read your CV as well – a fresh pair of eyes will be a great help and provide an objective viewpoint on what you’ve written.
  2. A CV over two pages long – there’s no need for a CV to be longer than two sides of A4. If you feel like you need a third page, stop and take out irrelevant sections. A good rule of thumb to follow is to take out anything over 10 years old; unless it’s directly relevant to the job you are applying for.
  3. Borders, fancy fonts or clipart – remember, a CV is a professional document to sell yourself and your achievements and experience should be what makes you stand out. Of course, if you’re applying for a creative role such as a Graphic Designer, express yourself but if you’re applying for a finance role, you won’t need to use clipart will you? Just remember to adapt your CV so that it fits the role you’re applying for and you can’t go far wrong.
  4. Make it easy to read – keep it simple and make sure that it is well spaced, with headings where appropriate. Detail your experience / responsibilities to match the job advert or description you’re applying for to make it easier for your potential employer to tick the relevant boxes.
  5. Don’t use jargon or acronyms – again, keep it simple by avoiding complex language and clichés.
  6. Contact information – don’t forget to provide your contact details. Make sure that your e-mail address is professional, potential employers are likely to be less than impressed if they have to respond to addresses that were created during the early noughties, such as tinkerbell18 or cityfan321.
  7. Don’t get personal – leave out your age and marital status. They aren’t relevant to any job so there’s no need to include them.
  8. Education – only include qualifications that are relevant to the role you’re applying for. Employers don’t need to know what level SATs you achieved in Year 6.
  9. Hobbies – if they aren’t relevant to the role you’re applying for, leave them out, simple as.

Every CV is and should be different. Whilst you’ll always have the basic background information, make sure you adapt the content to emphasize the relevant experience and skills for each job you’re applying for – one size does not fit all. And of course, if you use social media platforms such as LinkedIn, always check that the information on your profile supports your CV.   

Gail Thomas works as a Recruitment Consultant for Acorn and is based at our Head Office.

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