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April 15th, 2024

Common CV Mistakes - and how to avoid them

Hands buried in paper work pile, asking for help. Featured on XCL website

To make a good, strong first impression for a job application isn’t always easy. However, being aware of some of the most common mistakes made on CV’s – and how to avoid these – can then give you the best chance in securing that initial interview.

XCL have listed some of these CV mistakes we often see below…..

1. Failing to tailor your CV to the vacancy

It’s always key to remember that when it comes to a CV, it’s not a case of one size fits all. It’s all about showing in your CV that you’re the right person for that job and why. To do this effectively, you need to make sure that your CV is tailored for the vacancy you’ve applied for and if you’re applying for multiple vacancies, tailor this each time.

Include certain phrases or words from the job descriptions, within your CV making sure to highlight the aspects of your experience, that are most relevant to the job role you’re applying for. Also don’t shy away from removing certain aspects of your CV, that aren’t relevant to the role.


2. Not providing enough evidence

Another common mistake we often see is a candidate can focus too much on duties rather than achievements and fail to provide enough evidence. What we mean by this is, making sure you give evidence and examples of how and when you have used the skills you’ve listed on the CV. By doing this you demonstrate that you do in fact have the skills and experience you claim to have on your CV and how you had an impact in previous job roles.

If you don’t give any evidence, your CV can then appear very generic, and as well as your CV then not standing out from a crowd of applicants, it’s important to back up your claims and give context, so it enables the hiring manager to properly understand your skill set.


3. Poor formatting

If there are a lot of applications, a hiring manager may only spend a matter of minutes reviewing each CV they receive. Therefore, if your CV isn’t clear and easy to read, this could put you at a disadvantage.

Proper formatting of a CV consists of:

  • Use bullet points where possible.

  • Subheadings for each section – e.g. profile, employment history, education, achievements, etc.

  • Standard sized margins, header & footer.

  • Use a font that easy to read (e.g. sans-serif) and no smaller than font size 10.

  • Plenty of white space to prevent it feeling cramped.


4. Too Long

Following on from making sure your CV is properly formatted, you should also be mindful of how long it is. The reason for a CV is to be able to effectively demonstrate your abilities and experience in a clear and concise way.

As a guide, aim to keep your CV to just two pages, as a CV that has been tailored to the job role and been written up effectively, typically shouldn’t need to be any longer than that.

For more CV tips, have a read of XCL Group's March blog.

How to write a CV with a long work history
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