Here at Dynamic we support job seekers through the process every day. This includes helping to tailor their CVs to give them the best chance of securing an interview, and a job.
Which means that we see the same, common mistakes on CVs that could be preventing you from getting that interview that you’re after. We’ve detailed them below, and how you can avoid them.
1. Poorly Formatted CV Structure
One of the most common CV mistakes we see; is a poorly structured CV. Having all the right information on the CV is only half the battle. Because formatting your CV in the right way can increase your chances of securing that all important interview that you’re after!
When formatting your CV, think about what information does the hiring manager want to see? What will catch the interest of the person reading your CV? Because a hiring manager (on average) only takes 6 – 7 seconds of looking at your CV to decide whether to invite you for an interview. So having that important information front and centre is crucial.
Let’s have a look at a good example, of a properly structured CV, with the information included in a cascading level of relevance:
At the top we have:
- Your contract information to make yourself as easy to contact as possible.
- And a personal summary that gives the reader a snapshot of your professional career, and all the important bits.
This is then followed by:
- A list of the important and relevant skills and certifications.
- And their work experience, starting with the most relevant and recent experience.
And lastly at the bottom we have their education history. Still included, as some employers will want to see a degree or additional learning here, but not as important as the things listed above.
2. Listing Your Day-to-Day Responsibilities In Your Previous Work Experience
One of the most common CV mistakes we see is when someone simply lists what their previous work responsibilities have been. For example:
“Managed a team of 2 Junior Network Engineers, to successfully complete projects for clients, who were happy with our work.”
When what you want to do is to show what you achieved: How your work had a positive impact on the business. Something more like this:
“Lead a team of 2 Junior Network Engineers to successfully complete projects for important client accounts. One project in particular was both under budget and ahead of schedule. The client was so happy with our work, it led to repeat business.”
Both of the above examples pretty much say the same thing. But the second would be much more appealing to a future potential employer.
3. Making Claims About Past Experience Without Using Data And Numbers
Another common CV mistake is making these claims about your past accomplishments, without using any data or evidence to support them. After all, when presenting to a client or internally, you would always use statistics and hard data to substantiate your claims. And your CV and interviews should be no different.
Let’s expand on the example from earlier:
“Lead a team of 2 Junior Network Engineers to successfully complete projects for important client accounts. One project in particular was both 10% under budget and 2 weeks ahead of schedule. The client was so happy with our work, it led to repeat business which was worth over £30,000 to the company.”
Now you may not have access to all the above information. But it is important to find out what you can, to give credence to your claims and give the hiring manager faith in your abilities.
4. Failing to Tailor Your CV or Cover Letter To The Job Advert and Company
Not tailoring your CV and cover letter to the exact job you’re applying for could be another CV mistake that is potentially holding you back in your job search.
Tailoring your CV can be essential in helping your application pass through ‘Applicant Tracking Software’ or ‘Applicant Scanning Systems’ that will automatically filter our CVs based on certain keywords. Larger businesses that receive hundreds of applications are more likely to use these tools, to help filter the amount of applications they view.
These keywords that you need to include can typically be found in the job advert. Let’s look at an example:
Now not all of the above will be keywords that an ATS will look for. But they are all possibilities, and it is a good idea to match your CV to the job advert anyway. Because if your CV doesn’t contain those keywords, then your CV may never even be seen by a real person.
Tailoring your cover letter for the specific job and role requirements can also help stop your cover letter sounding generic: And it shows that you have read and understood the intricacies of the role you are applying for.
However, writing a CV or cover letter for every single job you apply for can be a time-consuming process. But there are things you can do to speed up the process, like using AI tools to help write your cover letter for you. Read here for our guide on using AI to support you in your job search, including writing CVs and cover letters for you.
5. Having a Generic Personal Summary
Your personal or career summary should be a snapshot of you: Your professional experience, your achievements, and who you are as a person. Quite a lot to fit into a short paragraph or two.
But a common cv mistake we see is having a generic personal statement that isn’t specific to your job, your industry, or the job you want.
So avoid generic statements like “I love to learn new things”, and “I’m a driven and hardworking individual”. These could be about anyone.
Instead, try something like “I’m driven to progress to a Senior Network Engineer position, and have recently earned my CCNP Enterprise to support this ambition.”
You’re not just telling them that you’re a driven individual, you’re showing them how it’s a reality, and why they should want to hire you.
6. Not Getting Into The Specifics With Your Experience
Your CV isn’t the time to be vague about what exactly your past experience includes. Because you don’t want to leave the hiring manager with any questions about whether you’re the right person for the job or not.
So, you might put “4 years of experience working in a Network Engineer position” in your personal summary. All well and good, but it doesn’t really give much information.
Instead, we would advise changing that to “4 years of experience as a Network Engineer working with Juniper, Dell and Cisco systems.”
This is just one small example, but shows how giving more information helps you sell yourself as an expert, and give the hiring manager faith that you know your stuff. As well as help you to avoid potentially wasting your time by interviewing for a position that you’re not right for.
7. Focusing Only On Hard Skills
Hard skills are an essential part of your job. Possessing the technical ability and having the necessary experience to do the job at hand is the first thing a hiring manager or future employer will look for in a CV. But it’s not the only thing they will look for. Because the next thing they will look for is soft skills.
Soft skills are an essential part of our jobs, and are often overlooked by job seekers who are, naturally, more focused on being technically proficient. But some of the most important skills for your career are soft skills. Such as:
- Client management.
- Team and people management.
- Project and budget management.
We could go on forever, but you get the gist. For more information on soft skills and which to include on your CV, we’ve written a guide on the most important soft skills to include on your CV, to help you secure your new role.
That’s enough on the mistakes you can make on your CV. If you’re more interested in the right way to create a CV, you can have a look at our comprehensive and in-depth (in our humble opinion) guide on how to create a CV that stands out in all the right ways.