11 Ways To Avoid CV Disaster

Think of your CV as the passport that’s going to help you to go places in your chosen career. Get it right and you’ll soar to success; get it wrong and you’ll nose dive straight into the ‘NO’ pile.

To avoid total CV disaster, take heed of these 11 DON’Ts:

1. DON’T be shy

Open your CV with a punchy personal statement (around 50-100 words) detailing your key skills, what drives you and how you can benefit the employer. This is your opportunity to sell yourself and stand out. Avoid the obvious and bear in mind the ‘desirable attributes’ listed on the job description. Always take your cue from this!

2. DON’T forget to double check spelling and grammar

Get this wrong and you’ll come across as one of two things: ill-educated, or sloppy. Either way, you’re not getting the job. For this reason, it’s imperative that you double, triple and quadruple check your CV for mistakes of this nature. Watch out for common culprits such as using the wrong ‘their/there’ and ‘your/you’re’. If you’re not sure on something, google it!

3. DON’T forget to clearly list your academic info

For graduate employers, academic information is really important so list this right under your personal statement. Start with your degree, stating institution, the years you attended and what you achieved and then work backwards towards GCSEs. Listing all your marks on separate lines is going to take up too much room so get economical with CV space and write something like this: ‘11 GCSEs  - Grades A-C’.

4. DON'T use clichés

Avoid using hollow phrases such as ‘I am a good communicator’ or ‘I work well in a team’. Instead, provide examples of activities or achievements on your CV that demonstrate this. ‘I was leader of the Debates team at University’ or ‘I take part in community theatre projects outside of work’ are tangible examples that your employer can infer skills from. Plus, they are MUCH more interesting to read about.

5. DON’T waffle

Employers spend an average of 30 seconds looking over CVs so get to the good stuff straight away. List your work experiences in reverse chronological order so that your most recent is at the top. No need to include irrelevant ones either; leave paper rounds and year 9 work experience week on the cutting room floor.

6. DON’T forget to highlight specific achievements

Instead of listing the generic responsibilities you held in previous jobs, tell the employer what you actually achieved in each role – e.g. ‘I increased sales by 10% through doing x and y’ or ‘I was awarded Employee of the Month for exceeding my target by z.’ Giving specific examples shows the positive impact you had on the company in the time you were there and quantifying your achievements using numbers and percentages sounds much more powerful.

7. DON’T include a photo

Unless you’re applying for a job in performing arts, including a photo is unnecessary and will only take up valuable space that would be better used showcasing your professional skills and experiences. No selfies allowed!

8. DON’T forget tailoring

Yes, we know, this is incredibly annoying. Tweaking your CV for each application is time consuming and frankly, after the tenth draft, soul destroying. However, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to graduate employers. You’re trying to convince each one that you only have eyes for them. Read the job specification carefully and customise your CV accordingly.

8. DON’T be scruffy

You might have killer content but if your CV looks unattractive, it’s a real deterrent for the person having to read through it. To them, it looks crap and unattractive so it probably is – BIN. To ensure you have a supermodel CV, check out our free template with helpful annotations on structure and presentation.

9. DON’T forget the little things

Make sure your CV is clearly saved as ‘Joe Bloggs CV’. That way, the employer knows straight away who you are and what they’re looking at. Amongst the sea of CVs in their inbox, a cryptic looking file named, ‘Mycv2013March2’ can easily get lost. Your email address should also look professional. Sending out applications from ‘lil_miss_sexy@gmail.com’ is only going to damage your credibility…

10. DON’T state the obvious

Referring to your CV as a ‘Curriculum Vitae’ might sound fancy but it’s not necessary and calling it a ‘Resume’ is an Americanism which won’t wash with UK employers. Our tip? Leave it out altogether! Simply state your full name at the top of the page.

11. DON’T lie

In such a fiercely competitive market, you might be tempted to stretch the truth a little regarding your skills and experience. Don’t. Background checks are becoming much more commonplace and it’s likely that you’ll be caught out further down the line. In this instance, honesty is definitely the best policy.

Follow these 11 tips and you’ll save your CV from the shredder! Now you've written a knock-out CV, why not compliment it with a Tip Top Covering Letter?


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