Ever submitted a job application and suddenly realised there’s a typo buried in the middle? You probably looked a little like Meryl Streep after this year’s Oscars blunder! Recruiters may be willing to forgive one minor error—after all, we’re only human. But an error is an error and it’s going to make your application that little bit weaker. So, with the aim of making you a stronger candidate, we asked 200 UK recruiters for their CV pet peeves. These are the top 10 and you’ll want to avoid them or you could be jeopardizing your career opportunities.
Spelling mistakes are a cardinal sin according to recruiters, with a massive 71% ranking these errors as their biggest pet peeve. And it’s no wonder. Not only do spelling mistakes suggest your attention to detail isn’t so hawk-like, they can also jeopardize your chances of landing an interview if the recruiter isn’t so forgiving. Thankfully, your blunder will stay with the recruiter rather than the public eye, unlike the President’s administration team’s latest spelling mistake.
The easiest way to avoid spelling errors is, of course, by dedicating some time to proofreading your CV. We suggest taking a break when you’ve finished writing, and then return to check your CV with fresh eyes. Other great tips include reading your work aloud, as you’ll be able to hear what sounds off, and getting a family member or friend to run their eyes over it.
Being hugely underqualified
62.6% of recruiters ranked being hugely underqualified for the role you’ve applied for as one of the worst CV mistakes. It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t the same as underselling yourself. If you’re underselling yourself you’re applying for a Director’s position with the skills of a Director, but your CV doesn’t explain this sufficiently. Being hugely underqualified is quite different; it’s more like applying for a Director’s role when your employment history only dates a few weeks!
Not only is applying for a role you’re not qualified for a waste of the recruiter’s time, but it’s a waste of your time, too. It’s great if you’ve got ambition, and by all means punch above your weight, but don’t aim so high you end up getting flattened.
When you’re checking out job descriptions, make sure your skills and experiences match what the role requires. Then, when writing your CV, include these skills and support them with evidence. That way, even if you are punching above your weight, you’ve proved you’re an achiever.
Another bug bear for 40.6% of recruiters is when candidates include lists of unrelated skills on their CVs. We cannot stress enough that a one-size-fits-all approach does not work with job applications.
If you want to successfully land a job, you need to tailor your CV to each job you’re applying for. While this sounds like a large amount of effort, it’s easier than you think; armed with a highlighter, go through a job description and mark keywords and phrases. Then, match these with your own experience and reference them in your CV. It’ll be obvious you’re a great fit for the role.
Too many jobs over a short period
Having multiple jobs over your career is no bad thing, but having too many jobs over a short period is a warning sign for 22.6% of recruiters. You probably have a reasonable explanation for jumping roles, but unless you explain the reasons for your rapid moves (that’s where your cover letter comes in) potential employers are likely to think there’s something wrong with you and your work ethic.
A CV over two pages
If your CV is over two pages you’re playing a dangerous game. 16.2% of recruiters ranked a lengthy CV as one of the biggest application mistakes. Firstly, your CV should comfortably fit two A4 pages. If the advice you’ve read says your CV should be longer that two pages, it’s likely you were looking at an American guide—there are several types of CV out there and they all depend on your location in the world. Thankfully, we’ve got a neat little guide to help you craft a CV sure to impress any recruiter in the UK.
14.2% of recruiters rank including a picture as one of the biggest CV mistakes, and we can see why. No matter how on point your eyebrows are in that selfie, the picture is taking up valuable space on your two-page CV. Also, if you were going to include a photo, a selfie probably isn’t the best way to go, even if you do have a large Instagram following.
If your CV is littered with buzzwords, 12.9% of recruiters are likely to ignore your application. Buzzwords are often unavoidable, especially as many jobs are looking for ‘motivated’ individuals that are ‘reliable’ and ‘experienced’. Instead of telling recruiters your abilities with lists of meaningless buzzwords though, try showing them your skills for a stand-out CV.
A CV that’s ‘too creative’
A flash of creative flair is a great way to make your CV and application unique. However, for 12.9% of recruiters, a CV that’s ‘too creative’ is a massive turn off. Unless you’re in a creative industry, we recommend sticking with a simple template, keeping the type font plain, and jazzing up the headings a little to make each section stand out. If you’ve started to play around with Word Art, borders, and graphics, you’ve gone too far.
No cover letter, even when the application requires one
Writing a decent cover letter takes time and effort, and so we can understand why some of you might refrain from sending one with your application. But failing to provide a cover letter, even when the application requires one, is considered a big CV mistake for 7.1% of recruiters.
Arguably, the cover letter is dead. But if the application specifically states you need one, send it. Here’s our quick guide to writing a cover letter that you might find useful.
No social media
We’ve been advised to clean up our social media before a job search because it could harm our chances of landing a job. But oddly, having no social media presence at all is considered an application blunder by 1.9% of recruiters. Recruiters often refer to social media to check out candidates. They’re not specifically looking for incriminating photos of you on a night out, but they do want to find out what type of person you are. If you don’t have any social media, it might be wise to say why on your CV, that way you won’t be scaring away any job opportunities.
So, if you don’t want to risk jeopardizing your future career opportunities, avoid these 10 CV mistakes and recruiters will easily see you’re a strong candidate for the role.
Curated from CV-Library