We’ve reviewed thousands of CVs from students and graduates, and often find the same mistakes repeated. A wise person learns from other people’s mistakes, so here’s how NOT to write your CV:
Mistake 1: Calling it your Curriculum Vitae. Just put your name at the top of your CV, don’t give it a title such as Curriculum Vitae or Résumé. No one’s going to confuse it with a cocktail menu!
Mistake 2: Careless cutting and pasting. Be consistent with the style of your bullet points, spacing, alignment (particularly dates), font size, style and colour. Inconsistent formatting usually gives away that an applicant has cut and paste text from a template or job description. This lack of attention to detail will not impress employers.
Mistake 3: Relying on your Spellchecker. Check your spellchecker is set to English UK not English US (or you’ll get organization skills rather than organisation skills). Be wary of autocorrecting and read everything carefully to ensure you are suing they correct worlds (using the correct words). Your spellchecker won’t save you from confusing costumer service with customer service.
Mistake 4: Too long / too short. UK CVs tend to be 2 pages (single sided) maximum. Employers usually don’t have time to read anything longer. Make the most of those 2 pages to sell yourself. Don’t leave half a page blank.
Mistake 5: Telling strangers where you live. For your own security, just give your location (e.g. London NW4) rather than your full address, particularly if posting your CV online.
Mistake 6: Giving away personal details. Including personal details, such as date of birth or nationality, can put you at risk of identity theft or discrimination.
Mistake 7: Generic statements. Avoid statements that are generic and clichéd. Some of the most over-used phrases include…
- Team player, also able to use own initiative.
- Highly motivated, flexible and hardworking individual.
- Able to communicate at all levels.
- Can think outside the box.
- Works well under pressure.
Instead, identify your Unique Selling Points (USPs) that set you apart from other candidates. Convince recruiters by giving brief examples of how you’ve used your skills to achieve something. Mention achievements that go beyond just doing your day-to-day job.
Mistake 8: Irrelevant work duties. Everything on your CV should be relevant to your job goal and should ‘add value’. There’s no point going on about your ability to operate a till, when applying for a job in Digital Marketing!
Mistake 9: Listing skills that aren’t required. Don’t guess at what skills to mention in your CV. Look at job descriptions for roles that interest you, note down any required skills or experience and add them to your CV (if you can honestly say you have those skills!)
Mistake 10: Unremarkable hobbies. Your hobbies and interests should ‘add value’ to your CV or at least give it some personality. Socialising with friends, spending time with family, shopping, reading, gaming and watching movies are fairly unremarkable hobbies.
Need some help with your CV?
Take a look at your MDXWorks portal (Use your MyUniHub ID and password to log in). It’s packed with great resources to help you write a CV, including templates, tools and advice. You may like to start by looking at MDX CV builder
If you’re a student or graduate of Middlesex University, you can send us your up-to-date CV for review: firstname.lastname@example.org We’ll provide you with friendly and constructive feedback to help you make improvements.
By Matt Lewis, MDXWorks On-Campus / Online, Middlesex University
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