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April 24, 2015

"Let's eat grandpa" - How to avoid CV mistakes and where punctuation saves not just lives

Like most recruiters who have been working in the industry for a long time, I’ve read thousands of CVs; some read like a dream, others like a dreem.  One of my colleagues once told me a story about a CV he’d come across once where underneath the interests section it said “cooking pets and friends”. I’ll leave that one to the imagination. 

Like a crossword puzzle, the answers always seem more obvious when you know them, so this blog is designed to help point out any mistakes that could be on your CV.  Remember your CV is there to help win an interview and then the interview for you to bring that CV to life.  Don't fall at the first hurdle!

Check your spelling and grammar: This is one of the most common problems and speaks volumes about your attention to detail.  I've lost track of the amount of times I've read that somebody has written great attention to detail and followed it up with a spelling mistake. Don't let it be you!  It's easy to use spell-check in Word, just don't rely on it with words like 'there' and 'their' or your own email address. 

Read it, re-read it, now read it again:  You might think it's perfect after your first draft, but it isn't.  Keep reading until you're satisfied that it couldn't be better.  Flush those mistakes and keep flushing until it reads fluently and is spotless for errors.  Take tea breaks in between to give your eyes and mind a rest - fresh eyes will help with spotting blunders.  Another option is to get a friend to give it the once over too. 

Don't over-egg the pudding: Exaggerating in a bid to build up your skills can often be seen right through. When you declare yourself an expert or accomplished in your area after a short period of time, chances are you're probably not.  

Watch your fonts and formatting:  Try to use one type of font throughout and keep similar headings and subsections in the same styles, especially with emboldening, underlining or italics.  Falling at this hurdle again shows a lack of attention to detail or pride in your most important personal document.

Do we know how to get hold of you?  If you haven't put down your contact details (phone number, email address, home address) then it's going to be tricky for people to get hold of you. Carmen Sandiego may be able to travel incognito, but you don't. 

Try and stick to two or three pages:  You're not writing War and Peace here so take the chance to condense your life down.  Writing more than two or three pages runs a high risk of you losing your audience.  

Is it accurate? Run through your CV and make sure it's all accurate.  If dates or job titles turn out to be different when you're being questioned during the interview it doesn't come across well.  Know what you've done in your life and when you did it.  Be specific with numbers, responsibilities, locations and people as it helps to build a better picture about you. 

No photo, please:  This is appreciated in some parts of the world but it's generally not done in the UK. 

Tailor your CV to the application:  Tailor your CV to the role so as to make you stand out as much as possible.  As your career progresses your skills may fit into a few areas that interest you, so one thing we'd recommend is to create a few different CVs that are tailored to these areas.  This will save you time, energy and frustration.  Avoid the generic CV with generic cover letter as these more often than not end up in the no pile.

What's in an email address?  Do you have a professional email address set up or are you still using the one you set up in your teenage years?  You may not realise it but hiring managers do read into your email addresses so consider that before submitting beerbongman@hotmail.com  or xxrabbitxx@yahoo.co.uk 

Remember to attach it:  Before sending off your CV for that vital application remember to read back over your work and attach the vital document.  One way of preventing this is to attach your CV before you enter the email address of the recipient.  If you forget then some people won't chase you for it. 

And that folks, is all (at least all I can think of right now).  If you follow the above rules you'll give yourself as good a chance as any to be a contender for the yes pile rather than the no pile.  

Ok, I'm feeling hungry after writing this and it's time for dinner.  "Let's eat, grandpa". 

These words of wisdom came from our Deputy MD Neil Hogan.

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