A few weeks back we shared an article on how to write the ultimate CV. Today we want to tackle the most commonly overlooked mistakes in resume writing. The good news is with a few tweaks you can easily make your job application more sleek, professional and memorable. Not to forget, spare hiring managers some serious headaches. So let’s take a closer look at 7 common mistakes to avoid when creating a CV.
1. Awkward profile pictures
How does the profile picture you’re included in your CV look? First and foremost is it a picture of you or one of your family, pet, a celebrity or an object? Is it taken from so far that your face is a tiny dot? Does it have terrible quality thanks to poor lighting or resolution? What is the expression on your face? Enough said. If you want to include a picture make sure it’s taken professionally, either by a friend or at a studio. Please don’t add supposedly creative effects to it, unless the position you are applying for requires that kind of an edge. In fact, not including a picture at all is perfectly fine and even recommended.
2. Burying important details
No matter which role, industry or company you are applying to, all hiring managers look out for certain details. For example links to your portfolios (GitHub, Bitbucket, website, etc.,), most recent and relevant work experience, and specific certifications. So, make sure this information is at the very beginning of your CV in a clear and concise format. Remember, the average recruiter is more likely to move on to the next candidate rather than dig around for hidden details in your CV.
3. Typos in the CV
Lately, I see quite a few social media posts from bosses who declare that they give chances to people with not so perfect CVs. After all, ‘it’s human to error’ they say, so what’s a simple spelling mistake here and there going to cost? Let me tell you. I once came across a CV from a designer who wrote, “I make appalling designs…”. Of course, he meant to write ‘appealing’, but that lack on an ‘e’ and an extra ‘l’ gave his work a whole different meaning. The bottom line is if you think ‘attention to detail’, ‘excellent communication skills’ and ‘going the extra mile’ are skills you have, then your CV should reflect that. Because, ideally you would have triple checked your CV and asked a friend to look over it too, before sending it out. Therefore, typos are definitely one of the mistakes to avoid when creating a CV.
4. Random bar (and other) scales
When listing out technical skills, languages and so forth, candidates often include a scale next to each expertise. Most commonly, this is a bar graph colored in full, halfway or somewhere in between. Supposedly, this corresponds with the skill or experience level the candidate has on the subject. However, there is a catch. It’s easy to see when these scales are at 0%, 50% or 100%. But if it’s at 36% or 83%, it’s virtually impossible to tell unless the hiring manager takes out a tape measure and starts to work out the math. Therefore, you’re much better off simply listing out these skills as bullet points on your CV. If there is a significant difference in your experience level between them and you want to honestly point that out, just use words to describe. For instance, you could say,
- Experienced – NodeJS; Ruby on Rails
- Amateure – AWS; iOS
Alternatively, you can use globally recognized metrics, particularly to explain your language skills.
- Finnish – Native
- English – Fluent
- Swedish – B2
5. Overstated language skills
Speaking of language skills, when deciding if you should or should not mention a specific language on your CV think of the following metaphor. Don’t say you have medical experience unless you are willing to step up when someone shouts ‘is there a doctor in the house?’. Thus, before you show off your foreign language capabilities, think hard if and how you are able to use it in a work environment. Let’s say you put down French as a language you know. If your interviewer is fluent in French and decides to conduct the interview in it, can you handle the situation? Or a few months into the job, if they need your help to resolve a situation with a French-speaking client via email, video conference or a face to face meeting, can you do that? Thus, if you are a beginner or waddling in the basics of something, it’s best to leave it out. Unless of course the job or company requires a specific language or is based in a country that speaks a particular language. In which case, definitely specify your current competence level in it.
6. Unspecified dates
This is one of the most common slip-ups we observe in CVs. Have you got a random date or a year next to each work experience or education qualification? Well, what exactly does it mean or represent? Is it the start date or the end date? Or is it the date you got the degree certificate in the post after you returned from a holiday backpacking through Australia? To avoid any confusion always write down a range. For example
Jan 2019 – onwards
Sep 2018 – Mar 2020
Jun – Dec 2019
7. Random CV file name
Last but not least, one of the easiest mistakes to avoid when creating a CV is saving them using the most generic and random file names, before sending them out. Chances are almost every employer and recruitment agency today is using an Application Tracking System (ATS). This means unlike in the good old days, everything is automated and your CV will be smoothly allocated to your profile and easy to find. However, what if the hiring manager has to download it for some reason and share it with a colleague? In which case, if you have saved it as ‘my-cv-version-2’, then you are in a bit of a pickle. Because so have half of the other applicants. Now the person sifting through all the CVs has to endure a lot of trouble to find what he or she is looking for and even possibly rename them all. Most likely, he or she is pretty annoyed by now, which is not good for your chances of being selected. You can avoid this whole fiasco by simply naming your CV as ‘Firstname Lastname CV’, before sending it out.
How many of these errors can you spot on your CV? The good news is, here is your chance to fix them before sending your application to your dream job. To read more on how to shine on paper and in person when job hunting check out our blog. Good luck!