Three mistakes that could get your CV rejected… [Guest post from Andrew Fennell, StandOut CV]

When you’re searching for a top graduate job, you need a CV that’s going to get you noticed by recruiters and wow employers.

And when you are facing tough competition from other candidates, it’s important that your CV is flawless and error free. In fact, it only takes one CV mistake for a recruiter to start doubting your credibility, and skip past your application – especially when they have scores of hopeful applicants to review.

So, to avoid that situation, and ensure you land the interviews you want, here are 3 damaging CV mistakes you need to avoid.

Poor readability

When writing your CV, one of the most important factors to consider, is the challenges of the people who will be reading it – namely recruiters and hiring managers. Put yourself into their shoes when writing your CV and you will find it much easier to create a document that appeals to them.

Here are 2 important things to know about recruiters and hiring managers;

  • They see LOTS of CVs – It’s not uncommon for job adverts to receive hundreds of applications a day, and when recruiting for multiple jobs, this can become overwhelming
  • They are very pushed for time – Both recruiters and hiring managers are usually incredibly busy, balancing lots of responsibilities and tight deadlines

So, when you are faced with the challenge of getting your CV noticed by people who have little time to review hundreds of CVs, you can understand why readability is such an important factor.

If your CV is poorly laid out with huge paragraphs of unbroken text, messy formatting and no clear structure, then busy recruiters will not invest their wading through it to dig out your talents – instead they will probably skip past it and open up the next CV in their inbox.

So, format and structure your CV in a way that looks professional and makes it incredibly easy to navigate and read.

Start by using a simple font and colour scheme, and dividing the document up into clear sections with bold headings. Then ensure that text is broken up into short sentences and plenty of bullet points, so that it can be skim-read quickly, allowing recruiters to identify your relevant talents with ease.

Lack of transferable skills

When writing a graduate CV, it can be tough to communicate your workplace skills if you have limited work experience. But unless you can prove that you have the skills that employers are looking for, you won’t get many interview requests.

So, how can you demonstrate your abilities when you have little or no relevant work experience?

Well, it’s actually easier than you think, as you have probably already gained lots of valuable skills during your studies, projects, part-time jobs or even your hobbies and interests.

For example, your coursework will have involved planning, written communication (and even some negotiation when asking for extensions).

Your sports club involvement requires dedication, motivation, team work leadership… and more.

When writing your CV, be creative and endeavour to draw transferable skills out of every aspect of your journey, in order to reflect the candidate requirements from the jobs you are applying to.

Not researching target roles

One of the most damaging CV mistakes you can make comes well before you have written one word.

That mistake is failing to carry out research into the type of jobs you are applying for.

If you don’t understand what skills and knowledge are required in a role, you will struggle to write an attractive CV for the sector.

So, before you get started, you should browse through plenty of relevant job adverts and make a list of the candidate requirements for each one. Once you’ve done this, you will gain a clear understanding of the skills that your target employers value, which will tell you exactly what you need to make prominent in your CV.

Refer to this skills list as you write your CV, and ensure that you highlight your matching skills throughout the CV. It’s especially important to do this at the top of your CV, so that you instantly catch recruiters’ attention when your CV is opened.

If you manage to avoid these 3 pitfalls when writing your CV, you will be well on the way to landing job interviews and securing the job you want!

Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV – he is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.

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