Did you know, your Curriculum Vitae (CV) has approximately eight to ten seconds to make an impact with a recruiter?

Writing a professional CV is the first step in developing a successful career, but to make it stand out from the crowd it needs to be faultless. Based on the experience of Cranfield’s Career Development Service, here are seven common CV errors to avoid when writing your CV – and how to fix them:

  1. Failing to position yourself – Candidates sometimes don’t make it clear what they have to offer an organisation.
    The solution: Encourage prospective employers to carry on reading your CV by starting it with three attention-grabbing bullet points of your career highlights. Think of these as your Unique Selling Points – highlight your achievements and accomplishments that are relevant to the role.
  1. Lack of, or inadequate, evidence – You may be able to do the job and be successful in the role, but it’s not clear from your CV.
    The solution: Demonstrate your achievements and back them up with hard facts. Frame your success with words such as “negotiated”, “calculated” or “represented”, as appropriate.
  2. Not tailoring your CV to the role – Candidates often create their CV at the start of their job hunt and use the same one for all applications.
    The solution: Tailor your CV to the role by highlighting/prioritising the experience you have that meets the requirements specified in the job description. This highlights how you are a strong match to the role and/or organisation.
  3. Overplaying skills, experience, or accomplishments – To get a job or an interview, some candidates exaggerate on their CV. Aside from the ethical implications of lying, you are likely to underperform and leave a poor impression at interview or lose your job due to not performing in the role or having the deception discovered.
    The solution: Be honest, but don’t downplay your accomplishments either. Find the right balance and use language that reinforces your personal contribution such as “initiated”, “implemented”, “achieved”, or “supported”.
  4. Typos and poor grammar – Spelling mistakes and poor grammar do get noticed, and it can make the difference between being shortlisted for an interview or not.
    The solution: Proofread – and then proofread again. As well as just reading your CV, there are several techniques that will help you spot errors, such as reading it out loud. You can also ask friends and classmates to proofread your CV for you.
  5. Using cliches – “Enthusiastic, results-driven, team-player who has an eye for detail.” Recruiters see so many of these cliched statements and will often ignore them. After all, if every application is from an enthusiastic, results-driven candidate, how do you tell the difference?
    The solution: Write a compelling case or personal profile at the top of your CV as to why you would be the perfect candidate for that specific role and organisation.
  6. Using gimmicky fonts and layouts – This is not the way to stand out, and it could mean your CV isn’t even read.
    The solution: Use a simple layout and a professional font – don’t try to be unconventional or use Comic Sans.

Ensuring that your CV is suited to the role you are applying for, accurate, and well-presented goes a long way to helping you get an interview. By spending time on your CV and putting thought into it, you are also well placed to talk about the skills and experience you can bring to the role and the organisation in your interview.

For more tips on CVs and to search for jobs, visit the Career Development Service web pages. You can also discover more about your free lifelong career development support on the alumni website.

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