The biggest mistake you’re making on your CV
In such a competitive job market there is no room for error. Just the slightest spelling or grammatical mistake could result in rejection, which may seem very unfair. The employer is looking for the cream of the crop, and with so many other candidates just as qualified as you are, one mistake on your CV will most likely be the difference between who makes an interview and who doesn’t.
You will come across lots of articles which list all the most common mistakes, so instead we wanted to focus upon what we believe to be the most important.
Here is the biggest mistake you’re probably making on your CV…
Failing to tailor your CV to the role
Although the CV has been used for many years to gain an interview, it wasn’t so long ago that a generic CV could be sent out to numerous prospective employer’s without changing anything. This would mean that each employer would get the exact same copy of your CV. Not particularly a problem a decade or so ago, but times have changed a lot since then.
But why is this a problem now?
If your CV is generic and doesn’t focus on the actual role, you are missing out on a massive opportunity to directly show the employer that you are the right person for the job. The whole idea of a CV is to allow the employer to search through a list of people who could potentially be an ideal candidate, and to then ask them in for an interview. If your CV doesn’t make it easy for them to see that you’re the right person for the job, then in today’s competitive world you are going to lose out.
A huge part of the problem is that the job market is so competitive nowadays that the hiring manager just doesn’t have the time to spend reading every single word on each CV they receive. Especially when they might receive fifty or even up to a hundred CV’s for just one job. If the hiring manager only takes 30 seconds to read through each CV, he or she is wanting to be able to quickly identify who could be a good match for the job.
A generic CV will essentially hide a lot of relevant information which the employer is looking for. A well tailored CV does the opposite, and only provides the relevant information and is specifically written to the role and the company.
How do I tailor my CV to the role?
Everyone will approach this differently, but the best way to start is to look at the job advertisement to narrow down exactly what the employer is looking for. There are always keywords that you can use within your own CV, so it makes it easy for the employer to see you are on the same page. Matching your own keywords with the words and phrases from the advert will keep you and the hiring manager on the same page. It will also show that you have fully read and understood the requirements, and made the effort to demonstrate on your CV that you have what they are looking for.
Certain skills will certainly be required for the role and will clearly be shown on the advert also. This will now allow you to highlight these same skills in your CV so they easily stand out to the reader, and by using the same language and terminology you will instantly grab their attention. Look for skills that are closely related to what the employer is looking for, and try to find ways to re-word your original CV skills to match theirs. Obviously this doesn’t mean to say that you completely change your skills so they match, as we of course want you to be honest about your talents. But what it does mean is that you may find that the wording is different between you and the employer, but ultimately the skills are the same.
Qualifications may or may not be needed, but if they are then try to make sure the relevant ones stand out on your CV. Don’t let these qualifications slip down your list, even if you are trying to keep them in chronological order. You may even consider highlighting in bold the relevant qualifications, and although this seems quite direct it will help the reader immensely – and they will certainly thank you for it!
Work experience may also be important to the employer, and even if it isn’t mentioned and you do have some great experience in a particular role or sector, then you should certainly look to again highlight this on your CV. Go into more detail for the relevant roles, and don’t worry too much about the rest. You don’t need to list every single task for your years of experience if most of them are not important to the new employer. Again, a well tailored CV only looks to expand upon what’s relevant to the role and the business.
You don’t always have to worry about a chronological order to your work history if it means that your relevant experience is pushed to the bottom or the next page. Employer’s are mainly interested in the fact that you do have some prior experience in the same role or industry, and won’t be fixated on the fact that you have a different order to how most people usually write a CV.
However you decide to present your information you should always consider how it can be focused on the role, as well as how all of the relevant information is brought to the forefront. But still keep in mind you require a professional CV structure as well as formatting and text style, size etc.
Tip – tailoring your CV should not overshadow the basic foundations of how a CV is presented. Keeping everything up to date and relevant is of course your number one priority for a tailored CV, but don’t forget the essentials.