Recent research by the UK’s National Citizen Service shows that employers in that country spent just 8.8 seconds scanning a CV before deciding whether or not to request an interview with the candidate. Recruiters look out for certain ‘red flags’ as a way to cut down the pile of applicants, so if your CV is giving off a negative impression, you may not get a call-back! Avoid these common CV mistakes, and make sure your CV is making you look like the qualified, quality candidate that you are…
An unprofessional CV
Remember: The purpose of a CV is to land you a job interview, telling a recruiter about you, your skills set and career history. The first red flag: a CV filled with spelling errors, bad grammar or lack of structure. To increase your chances of getting an interview, ensure your CV is well written, professionally structured, and tailored for the position. Keep it simple and easy to read – most recruiters or employers will lose interest if it resembles an essay. Include a brief profile with your name, contact information, career objective, positions reversed in chronological order, and key achievements. Also, recruitment agencies often use applicant tracking systems to sift through hundreds of online CVs, so be sure to include relevant keywords. If your CV needs an overhaul and you’re a little overwhelmed, enlist the skills of a professional CV writer.
No covering letter
If you don’t have a covering letter what’s going to make your CV stand out amongst hundreds of others? A covering letter is an introduction giving the employer or recruitment agency additional vital information that might not reflect in your CV. Without it, you miss the opportunity to emphasise the reasons why you want the job, fit in with a company’s culture, and how you fill the key requirements.
An obvious CV red flag is one that shows constant job hopping. Potential employers may see you as an unstable job seeker that lacks job commitment. There are many perfectly acceptable reasons for so-called job-hopping – like moving to up-skill or being head-hunted – so be sure to briefly explain. If you’ve held a series of jobs because you were a temp worker, or due to your previous company downsizing or closing, be honest about the situation whilst reiterating your ambitions for a long term position.
Not accounting for employment gaps
Employment gaps without any explanations are another red flag. You should always explain whether these were by choice, or circumstances beyond your control. Perhaps you studied further, were retrenched, or raised a family. Whatever your reasons detail them and any skills you acquired of courses you attended during your career sabbatical.
It’s all very well to state that you’re the best IT project manager but, can you give real-life examples to back up this claim? Be wary of coming across as arrogant! Showcase your skills and strengths by briefly describing hands-on industry experience, examples of projects that you managed, the strategic planning involved, the technical expertise required, and the outcome. Employers are interested to see from practical examples that you have the necessary skills, knowledge and competence for the position on offer.