Career Column

Seven common CV errors – and how to avoid them

1. Too much information – which sounds like a line from a sitcom, but, it is particularly true in a CV. Don’t ask the employers to wade through oceans of information. They may even decline to do so - and, even if they read it, you run the risk of the employer not seeing the important stuff you want them to see.

Too much information can irritate employers. Get to the point early, highlight what you really want them to see, and move on. Brevity can be a challenge: as Mark Twain famously said, “I wrote you a long letter because I hadn’t time to write you a short one.”

The temptation is to pour everything into the CV. Much better, I would argue, to be selective and put in the stuff that really helps to sell you. We recommend getting your CV onto two pages. It can be done.

2. Too little information. Don’t be overly minimalistic. You must tell them who you are, where you have been, what you have done, and what you can bring to the organisation.

3. Lies, untruths, over-statements – call them what you like. An employer has a sixth sense for stuff that does not stack up. He may not try to catch you out in the interview, but a few subtle questions could yield a lot of information that will not help you.

4. Blankety-blank. While you do not need to give exhaustive detail on every job, you do need to fill all the blanks. Do not leave big gaps. Employers may not run a fine tooth comb over ever CV in the hope of finding gaps, but if they happen upon one, it will raise some question marks.

5. Referees who do not help your cause. A college lecturer may forget you sooner than you think. He might not even reply to the request for a reference.

A good referee should know you well, be familiar with your work, and able to give a good account of who you are and what you do.

6. Failure to summarise your key skills and achievements. To make it easy for the employer, we recommend a section where he/she can quickly see this key information. We put it early in our CVs so that it jumps out at the employer. This section provides ease-of-navigation for the employer, and that can mean a lot to an employer faced with the prospect of finding the best candidate(s ) from dozens of CVs.

7. Failure to apply your skills to the advertised role. We tell our clients: “The employer has a job to give out, now what have you got to convince them you’re the person for the role.” Thus you must take your experience to date, and apply it to the position in question.

If the role is big on precision, show where you have shown precision in the past. The Key Skills & Achievements section is a good place. If he wants someone to lead people, tell him what you have done on that front – it could have been in your last job, it could have been in a sporting or community setting. If you do not apply your skills to the role in question, you run the risk of speaking in a vacuum.

However apply it to the role, and you are communicating directly, and in a meaningful way, with the employer.

Sli Nua Careers (Headford, Co. Galway, tel 094 95 42965, www.SliNuaCareers.com ) carries out CV preparation, mock interviews, interview training, and psychometric testing. For your free e-book on interview and CV tips, email [email protected]

 

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