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Are You Making One Of The Ten Biggest CV Mistakes?

Published: Thursday 7th May 2015

CV with a pen and specs on top of it


In a questionnaire compiled by YouGov for GSM London and completed by 600 executives, decision-makers listed the most annoying mistakes they found on CVs.

To make sure you can avoid them next time you apply for a job, here is the countdown of the top ten worst mistakes you can make on your CV, according the UK’s most influential bosses:

10. Including A Photo

Odd when you consider that most online networking sites, such as LinkedIn, have photographs of users, but 13% of employers don’t want to see selfies included with job applications.

9. Irrelevant Experience and Education

When you have a mountain of applications on your desk, no one wants to trough through irrelevant information to get to the points that they do want to see. 24% employers cited ‘irrelevant experience and education history’ as a major annoyance when going through the application inbox. In other words, there’s no need to include which primary school you attended.

8. Too Short

While many employers weren’t interested in irrelevant information, an almost equivalent number of employers (26%) were annoyed by CVs and applications that were short on detail overall. If it’s relevant, list it. If you only have a short work history, elaborate on the most significant roles for the vacancy.

7. Too Much Personal Information

In at number seven on our list of CV no-no’s were those applications that contained too much information on hobbies and extra-curricular activities. Only ever include these if they focus on attributes relevant to the job posting. Unless you’re applying for a job in the video-games industry, employers really don’t need to know your personal high score on a particular video game. However, if you won a national academic award, were a captain of a sports club, or were part of the school’s debating team, these could demonstrate sought-after leadership and communication skills. Just member to keep it brief.

6. Poor design

Worryingly, at 39%, a high proportion of employers marked candidates down for badly laid out CVs. While this may be obvious when applying for jobs in the design industry, it does apply for any role as a poorly designed CV is much more likely to get put to the bottom of the pile. If you’re worried your CV looks a bit scrappy, it might be an idea to get a professionally designed template that you can customise with your own information.

5. Too Informal

Being too informal when applying for jobs was a big mistake with a lot of bosses. 44% said, when applying keep your application corporate, professional and courteous. Avoid text speak and slang and definitely don’t be cocky or over-presumptuous.

4. Too Long

At 46%, almost twice as many employers hated CVs that were too long, than those that disliked short CVs. Our tip would be to fill a page at font size 12, but never go over two pages.

3. Missing Information

Unsurprisingly, 74% were put off by missing information, such as contact details, gaps in employment, or simply leaving out dates of service. These gaps set off alarm bells for many recruiters. If you weren’t working at the time, try to include some details that indicate that you were working on your career in other ways, if you were pursuing education or training opportunities.

2. Incorrect Information

Equally despised, at 76%, were candidates who sent in applications that included basic errors about the company. Do your research. There are few things worse that getting the company’s name wrong, or even the recruiter’s name wrong on your cover letter, so make sure you check and double check before sending an application pack. Background information, such as an upcoming project they are working on or something good which has recently happened to the company, will illustrate your interest. All of this can be included in your covering letter, so learn how to write a covering letter that stands out.

1. Spelling and grammar

Many recruiters employ a zero-tolerance approach to bad grammar and spelling and we weren’t surprised to see this issue top the list of CV faux-pas. While online applications and using email for cover letters can make applying quicker than ever, proof read everything. 87% of employers hate poor grammar. Check, double check and then get someone else to proof it as well.

For more great job-hunting tips, visit the Zoek blog or follow us on Twitter @zoekappuk. If you want to find a job app to help with your search download Zoek today, for smarter, faster recruitment.

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