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CV Tips & Common Mistakes

CV Tips

In a highly competitive market, you have to think of your CV as one of your personal marketing tools. Like marketing a product; you have to make it stand out from the crowd. 

Below are some helpful tips to help you include the right stuff:

  • Relevance - a CV that is relevant to a particular role or potential opportunity will get you noticed

  • Remember to include key contact information i.e. your phone number and email address

  • Develop a CV that expresses clearly what your track record is, rather than just a list of positions and responsibilities you had

  • Make the CV "outcome focused" with either qualitative or quantitative achievements documented

  • Work in reverse chronological order (newest to oldest) when presenting your career history

  • Use appropriate headings in bold text and keep the least important details at the end of the CV

  • HR practitioners, recruiters and line managers, screen CV’s within 10-30 seconds, so give priority to the most important points up front

  • In a well-structured CV is where the reader can successfully assess you on the very first page and treat the rest as supplementary reading

  • Use bullet points to outline responsibilities and achievements

  • Make sure what you write in a CV is supportable and can be validated at both interview and reference check stage

  • Keep it succinct and relevant, and be honest and factual

  • Include a cover letter that’s specific to every job you apply for, highlight your suitability for the role, draw attention to your CV and motivate the reader to interview you. 

​Common CV Mistakes

  • Avoid company specific jargon that someone outside of your industry / company might not understand

  • Gaps in career history. Rather than ignore any breaks you’ve had in the workplace, account for them in some way, e.g. parental leave, career break, travel

  • Attachments - unless requested don’t include attachments to your CV, such as references, referees’ names, academic transcripts and work samples etc. Save them for the face-to-face interview

  • Gimmicks like coloured paper, emojis and a CV that looks like a power point presentation 

  • Avoid excessive use of "I" "we" and "our" and never speak in the third person

  • Photos – unconscious bias exists in the workplace, so avoid including a profile photo

  • Watch out for spelling errors and poor grammar. Guaranteed, in the 20 seconds that someone views your CV, they will pick up on these. Get it proofread and don’t just rely on spell check

  • Narrative or prose style CV’s that don’t convey information fast enough

  • Avoid clichés, such as "excellent interpersonal skills" or "team player" 

  • Irrelevant information that doesn’t affect your ability to do your job, such as hobbies, age, gender and marital status