In 2021, Mselect received over 80,000 applications for our vacancies. At the start of this year, our recruitment consultants hosted a session focusing on listing the common mistakes found on CVs from candidates in Iraq including Kurdistan.
Crafting a CV is not easy. It isn’t just a case of writing about your career history to date; you also need to think about what you want your prospective employers to know and how you want to be perceived for future opportunities.
Even now, you should be thinking about where you want to be in 3-5 years' time? How do you intend to reach this goal? What training opportunities are you going to put yourself forward for?
And most importantly, how are you going to stand out to hiring companies?
On average, someone will make a decision about a CV within 6 seconds, so to make sure that you stand out for the right reasons there are certain things that you should avoid.
Firstly, if you only have 6 seconds to impress, before you even think about content, you need to consider what your CV looks like.
Why are CV’s Discarded?
Visually, before you even think about the words you write you need to make sure that your CV isn’t formatted in such a way as to turn your prospective employer off. Neglecting the formatting and page layout of your CV is a big oversight that many don’t consider worth investing time in, but it really could be the difference between gaining and losing a new job.
Visually, what do you need to consider?
Don’t submit a messy document packed full of chucks of text.
You may think filling a CV full of information is more likely to secure your dream role, but actually, it is like turning us recruiters away. People want to see at a glance, an overview of those they are potentially going to interview.
It is also important to remember to spell-check your CV. It’s hardly surprising that 59% of recruiters reject a CV because of simple, obvious errors. As a rule, typos and grammar issues highlight a severe lack of attention to detail and are a clear reason to disqualify a potential candidate.
Avoid multiple colours and fonts
You may think that adding colour, a fancy background, and pictures will get you noticed, and yes it will, but not necessarily in a positive way. Likewise, those that like to create headings in one style and write their paragraphs in another font entirely are not looked upon favourably.
The most effective CVs tend to follow the same format, using the same font and size. They will use bullet points to highlight vital information and graphs to help visualise successes. Simply put, these CVs stand out for their professional style.
While we are discussing style, you should also refrain from scanning your CV so that it appears as an image. If you are worried about people altering what you have written, change the format so that it is sent as a PDF instead of a Word Document.
Do not create a CV in a table
Recruiters, of course, look for CV’s that have been created in a logical manner. However, adding everything to a table actually detracts from the information held within. Instead, remember that the most effective CVs are written chronologically (working from your most present role backwards), with clear section headings highlighting who you are, what you objectives are, your employment history, your educational background, and your skills.
Consider the length of your CV
While you want to promote your skills and successes, you also need to avoid over-sharing. When a potential employer receives a CV, they want to know swiftly why they should employ you. They don’t want to wade through 7-pages worth of information to find out that you are not suitable. Therefore, make sure to restrict your CV to a maximum of 2-pages, providing an overview that can be elaborated on during an interview.
Likewise, you don’t need to attach certificates to your CV. You may think that you are demonstrating organisational skills by attaching certificates and further information but it just means that it is more for someone to look through and is likely to discourage them before they have even started.
Do you really need to add a profile photo?
While this sounds like a fantastic thing to do, it could actually be detrimental to your application. Without necessarily being aware of it, prospective employers are likely to judge you on your appearance and whether you look like you would be suitable for the job.
Once you have mastered the visual element of your CV, however, the content also needs to stand up to scrutiny.
What content Issues may I face?
While it is important to share, sometimes we are drawn into sharing too much on our CV. It is important to remember that it is a snapshot and not your life history.
Don’t overshare information
This may sound straightforward but unless a potential employer has asked for information relating to religion, race, your origin, or your marital status, avoid sharing. Likewise, it is very uncommon for an employer to need to know your blood type, so if it currently appears on your CV, remove it.
However, that doesn’t mean certain details should be omitted. You should always share your current location, nationality and date of birth, and current contact details, making sure to avoid unprofessional email addresses.
What impact did you have on the business?
We are all guilty of this, believing that a CV is a tool to highlight what we have achieved so far in our careers; however, we often fail to share what impact we have had on the businesses we have worked for.
Remember that this is your time to shine, so highlight how you have helped companies to succeed, how you were pivotal to the business, and what changes you helped to implement, while also remembering to tailor your CV to the role you are applying for.
For this reason, your profile summary is the key to your success, so make sure your skills stand out, writing it from a first-person perspective, tailoring it to the role you are applying for (For example, if the job is for a project management role, consider how you can mention both ‘projects’ and ‘management’ as keywords within this section).
Make sure you also create an original personal statement, after all, it is guaranteed to be read, so if you copy it from someone else in the same field, chances are the recruiter has read it all before. They want to know what makes you different.
Never underestimate academic awards or hobbies
This is even more important if you are a graduate fresh out of university, but these awards have transferrable skills that are all too often overlooked. You may have taken part in a public speaking event, conducted a seminar, passed a course with the highest marks, assisted a lecturer, or provided administration support to a department. All these skills are what employers look for and yet we often fail to include them thinking that only work experience will be considered.
In the same way, our hobbies say a great deal about our skillset. If you enjoy playing chess, potential employers could see that you have a strong analytical mind, and are good at problem solving. If you are a reader, recruiters could in turn, see that you have a detailed mind that could retain information.
Never underestimate yourself.
Vital job information that should be included
Whilst a potential employer doesn’t wish to spend an excessive amount of time reading your CV they do wish to know certain things. Therefore, make sure to include all job titles and duties of previous employment undertaken including the date you started and left each role.
It is also important to cover any employment gaps, which are often taken for valid reasons, and show that you are fully transparent in your application.