Most Deadly Resume Mistakes To Avoid

One of the most frequent question I receive is about CVs. More specifically, how to write a winning CV and what mistakes to avoid. So here I gathered the 15 most common mistakes to avoid.

  • Treating your CV as your life’s story and not as a sales document – although its title (Curriculum Vitae) literally means that, it is a false illusion. Your CV is not a book on your life, it is your marketing tool, so handle it accordingly.
  • Leaving spelling and grammatical errors – errors do not leave good impressions behind, especially in today’s’ world where spellcheckers are built into every software, so use them.
  • Too dull CV, does not sell you or differentiate you from others – if your resume proofs to be too boring, it will land in the rejection pile, you don’t have a second chance. If it is okay, but there are 100 other “okays” in the tray, why would a recruiter give you one hour of their time? Be different, be the best.
  • Overselling yourself – Being the best, still does not mean over-praising yourself. Be objective and back up your strengths with evidence.
  • Listing tasks as opposed to accomplishments – Every recruiter knows what the tasks of a Sales or HR Manager are. The question is rather what added value you personally created for your previous employers. This could be a good indicator for the recruiter what you could do for them. Make sure you list enough evidence.
  • Using the same CV for all companies – this will probably lead to not reflecting 100% back what the company is looking for. Tailor your CV to every company based on the information you found out about them during your research.
  • Doesn’t show relevance to the opportunity / company – this will give the recruiter the feeling that you are not talking to them. Be clear with their expectations and reflect them back in your resume.
  • No clear personal branding – a recruiter wants to have the feeling “this is the one” which they will have in case all information in your CV points into the same direction, strengthening the same message about you. Make sure you are clear with your strengths and benefits of hiring you and communicate all message around these.
  • Not putting unique selling points to premium place – what is the point in mentioning them in your CV if no one will actually read your CV till the end? The recruiter will have a look first on the top half of the first page, so use this space to highlight your unique selling points.
  • Including too old or irrelevant experience – uncertain people like putting any information into their resume thinking “the more the best”. Very untrue, it takes away focus and will create doubts in the reader. Focus, focus, focus!
  • Giving too much information – you might have tons of relevant experiences and accomplishments to feature in your CV but be aware that it will only discourage the recruiter from reading it. So make a selection and put there only the most relevant points.
  • Leaving important things to the cover letter – you will be disappointed here, but in reality no one is reading your cover letter, unless your resume awakes sincere interest in the recruiter. Conclusion – everything important must be in the CV.
  • Too long CV – busy recruiters don’t have the time for that. Comprising your resume to maximum 2 pages is therefore a must (and by the way it very well demonstrates your prioritization skills as well).
  • Leaves gaps and question marks – this is a very dangerous trap. Recruiters prefer people whose resume does not raise doubts. Those will be the first ones to get a call. You might get called even if the recruiter has question marks in their head, but be prepared that these will be addressed first in a phone call, before even getting the exposure to showcase your strengths. As a preparation, put yourself into your reader’s shoes and scan through your CV for potential red flags.
  • Using abbreviations or technical words that the recruiter might not understand – can be very annoying for the reader and might lead to stigmatizing you as a person with poor communication skills. Be aware what terms are accepted and widely used in your sector and which are the ones that both HR and line managers will understand.
  • +1. If your resume fails the 10 second-test – you will have exactly 10 seconds to convince the recruiter to read further and not to land in the rejection pile. Think it over how you can optimize your resume to have a positive impact in the reader in 10 seconds.

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