TOP 10 Most Common CV Mistakes to avoid in 2020
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Your CV is the first impression you give to the recruiter. Making mistakes in your resume will eliminate your chances of being called for an interview - and we don’t want that to happen.
If you know what are the most common mistakes applicants make on their CVs, you can make sure to not replicate them in yours. Continue reading to find out about the most common mistake we have seen in resumes!
#1. Too much useless text
Summarizing your life experience in a few bullet points is not an easy task, but it has to be done. AT the end of the day, it's all about the marketing and how you sell yourself.
Just focus on the most important and relevant information that the employer wants to hear and create a clear and simple file. Prefer bullet-points and lists rather than blocks of texts.
Also, your CV is not a novel, try to keep it all in one page so that the information is not lost and the reviewer can get a clear understanding of your profile in just one look. If you feel like it is lacking a lot of essential details, you can always talk about it more extensively in your cover letter.
#2. The information is not relevant to the job
This is a huge mistake that I see many people making: writing information about yourself / achievements that are not at all relevant to the job you are applying to.
The best way to avoid this is to create one CV for each job application, and tailor the information depending on the job description.
An easy way to do this is to simply copy pasting the requirements listed under the job description and selecting the ones that you are already confident in.
For example: let’s imagine that you are applying for a job as a Sales Executive for company X. One of the responsibilities you will have in this job is to communicate with potential clients for company X. Let’s say that your last job was as a Teacher at a local school, and you used to participate in school fairs in order to attract more students. On your CV under the experience for the teaching position you can write something like “Developed great communication skills and experience building relationships with prospect clients at school fairs”. In this way the future employer will know that even if you come from a completely different career path, you have some knowledge and motivation which will be an asset in your new job. If you had written ONLY things like “teaching math for 8th grade students” - the employer most likely will think that you do not possess the right experience for the job.
#3. You are using the wrong format
You have to be really careful with the format you choose for your resume. When I say this to people, a lot of them are not aware that it actually makes a huge difference.
Most big companies nowadays use screening softwares to get through the huge amounts of CVs they receive every day: these softwares (called ATS) screen each resume in search for certain keywords. The problem is that sometimes the format of your CV, or the way it’s structured, are not readable to those softwares - and your application is automatically trashed or labeled as "not compatible".
Now imagine you’ve been working so hard to make a perfect resume and it just gets deleted like this… we don’t want that!
To avoid this, use Microsoft Word to create your resume and steer clear of inserting graphs and diagrams to your CV. The best option would be to upload your CV using the .doc format, however most companies require you to submit a PDF, which is still ok, as long as it comes from a structured and clean Word document.
Try not to use web design tools like Canva - I know this sucks , we all LOVE Canva - because the ATS will not be able to read your resume.
There are many more things you can do to create an ATS Friendly CV, check out my blog for more detailed insights about ATS systems.
#4. Do not lie on your resume
I know it may seem tempting to add a few white lies on your resume, but it is definitely not a good idea.
Keep it real, there are so many ways for the employer to check your references, and if they notice that something is not quite right, they will probably not proceed with your application.
Now - a few exaggerations have never hurt anyone - but things like dates that do not make sense, language skills you don’t have, fake accomplishments, are just a no go.
Finally, don't change the names of your past job titles, it might cause confusion for the employer. Especially if you did an internship or stage for a few months, declare it in the job title, otherwise the recruiter will question why you worked for this position for only 6 months, and will develop an image of you as unreliable.
#5. Unexplained Time Gaps
if you had time gaps between your work experiences, it’s always better to explain it on your resume or cover letter: for example you could say that you’ve been traveling or freelancing or took time with your family etc… Try not to leave a “unexplained gap” in your CV, or it may seem fishy for a new employer.
#6. Spelling Mistakes
Having spelling mistakes on your CV gives the employer the feeling that you are lazy and not detailed oriented.
It is such an easy thing to avoid, just use a spelling and grammar check on the editor or simply proofread your resume a couple of times before sending it out.
#7. Inconsistency using tenses
Your CV has to be consistent especially when it comes to grammar and verb tenses. The best and most professional option is to stick to the past tense - considering what you list on your CV are all past experiences. Use action verbs like “managed”, “organized”, “led” etc… and be consistent with it throughout the whole document. For example:
- Bad bullet point: being responsible for managing a team
- Good bullet point: Led a team of 10 customer support agents and handled their training and professional development.
#8. Some things are just not professional
The idea that your CV should convey to the employer is that you are a professional individual. This can be achieved by listing your experience, but most importantly by the design of your resume, the way you write and few other important details such as:
Have a professional email address
Make sure your picture is professional
If you have a pic on your resume (mostly common in Europe), then make sure that it is a professional shot, that you are wearing a suit or a shirt and your face looks clean. For women, avoid heavy makeup and weird earrings and make sure your hair looks tidy.
Don’t mention salary expectations on your CV
You will have time to talk about the salary during your interview, so better to steer clear from any reference in your cv.
#9. Too Generic Statement
A statement or headline is a sentence or a few words normally written under your name on the CV, which are meant to describe you.
You never go wrong if you keep it short and to the point. A huge plus would be to customize each resume for a single job application, in that way you could write your goals in the headline, referring directly to the company you wish to work for.
For example: Jane Smith, content creator with six years of experience in digital marketing. Increased revenue by 20% with successful marketing campaigns. Seeking a new challenge at Company X.
#10: Not enough keywords
As explained before, companies use ATS technologies to screen every application they receive.
The ATS is simply looking for keywords.
How do I know which keywords to insert on my resume? Just check the job description.
You may see various keywords under requirements, or job description - simply read through it and insert the ones that apply to you on your resume.
This is another reason why you should modify your CV for each job application.
If you're still not sure how to recognize keywords, check the example below - I took a random job description just to show you which ones are the keywords you should take away from it:
Communicate / communication skills
Time management skills
Problem solver / fast problem solving
Calls / emails / chat
These were the top ten mistakes that applicants usually make when creating a CV, if you still have some questions, we are here to help!