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5 Most Common CV Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them

CV Writing is not to be taken lightly. It is not about googling CV formats and filling up the required details or even just writing down data that you want to pen down.

We review hundreds of applications every day and I have put down 5 basic recommendations that you need to look into it immediately. Make sure that your curriculum vitae creates the right impression immediately with the reader and does not contain CV writing mistakes.

Breaks in your Work Experience

The Problem: A lot of us go through periods of unemployment because we are neither able to get a job, or even get interviews. Some of us would like to take a break and travel or study further while others need to attend to family situations that take us away from our work. Some of us may even be ill and have been advised some sort of rest.

While this is all-natural, do not let suspicions be aroused in the recruiter's mind.

The Answer: Meet the gap head-on and provide a short (and not too negative) brief about the reasons. If possible, incorporate any further training, certifications, and literary works that you may have done that could be directly or indirectly related to your career, but fill the employment gap or reasons.

Your CV Maybe Too Long

The problem: I read resumes which are 3, 4, or even 5 pages long and I know from experience that my mind deters me from reading long resumes. Probably time or maybe just the same material over and over again with just different resumes.

The Answer: I would recommend preparing a curriculum vitae of a maximum of 2 pages. A one-page CV is ideal if you have less than 5 years of experience while a two-page CV is more than 5 years of experience. Read more about how long your CV should be?

No Work Experience

The problem: A lot of fresh graduates I have spoken to tell me that “if I do not get a job, how can I show work experience?”. And that is absolutely correct.

The Answer: You cannot show work experience but you can share a lot of determination, a willingness to learn and grow, and of course your knowledge, skills, and most importantly your attitude. You can share a bio instead. Always start with areas of your strength. In this casework, the experience is not your strength, but the person you are, your skills, your objectives, your education, and training, etc are very important. Prepare a good work experience structure in your CV by reading this.

A bio is about you, who you are, what motivates you, your personality, the challenges you like – A curriculum vitae is about your work experience, education, skills, etc. Use the combination of a bio and/or in your CV, with your education, training, and career goals to influence the recruiter.

Lots of Short Roles

The Problem: The biggest difficulties faced are constant job-hopping, or pure temporary roles or your position has been made redundant far too often. Recruiters looking at your CV will get the impression that you are not a long-term committed applicant for their client and hence risky to consider.

The Answer: Providing a valid reason in your CV when this does appear is important. Be sincere. The recruiter knows that there is always a reason but would want clarity before making a decision. This increases your chances rather than not taking ownership of these short stints in your CV.

Poor CV Formatting

The Problem: Fashionable CVs don’t work. It must be professional and simple. I have been a witness and read a CV that spells "Dubai" as "Dubia". While this may be just a simple mistake, why take a chance.

The Answers:

CV FontKeep a simple font – Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, Time Roman are some examples – Avoid “handwriting” fonts. A font size of 10,11,12 is most suitable, a font size of 11 and 12 being best. Keep the standard font size for all text. Titles and headings can be a font size higher.

Bullet Points - It is good to be brief and incorporate bullet points or numbering in your job responsibilities. One bullet point per line is perfect (two lines max). Keep 8 to 10 points per responsibility. Highlight keywords specific to your role. Words like "balance sheet" or "financial analysis" for accounting roles and "targets", or "sales figures" for sales roles, etc. – Avoid bunching your responsibilities into a paragraph – it makes it look “too much text”.

Spell Checks - Incorrect spellings create a poor impression, hence a CV spell check is mandatory. You do not want to give the impression that you cannot spell or have not taken the time and effort to check your work.

Grammar – Use short sentences. This makes it easier for the reader. Do not use jargon or high-end words to show off. If the recruiter does not understand the work or feels you are using too many complicated words, then how would you work with the rest of the team.

Solution: Grammarly is a free tool I use to do spell checks and grammar usage.

You can read more about the reasons why your CV is getting rejected.


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