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CV mistakes to avoid

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Published: 25 March 2021

Resume checklist

Writing your CV is a challenging thing. You have this one chance to convince the employer that you’re the right person for the job.

Don’t be daunted though because, with careful thought, proper editing and avoiding these five mistakes, you’ll start finding yourself on the shortlist for interviews straight away.

1) Show, don’t tell

This is an old idea that comes from the world of writing. In essence, it means avoid just talking about how great you are. Let your work experience do that for you.

When you don’t give any proof, you become less credible to the recruiter. It’ll be obvious you’re doing this when you use words like ‘passionate’, ‘strategic’ or ‘enthusiastic’.

Instead, talk about what you actually did. If you’ve got a skill you want to show off, give examples of how you used it.

Try out the STAR method. Discuss the Situation, Task, Action and Result of whatever project you’ve been involved in.

2) Don’t include an objective

Some recruitment agencies advise their clients to add the aim of the CV at the top of the document.

For example, ‘Find an entry-level position in marketing’ instead of having a professional summary. Do not do this.

You shouldn’t just be saying you want a job. For one thing, it reads like it could be any job, not the specific one you’re applying for.

Your professional summary is the perfect place to explain to companies why they should hire you. Use it to show them you are a professional with real knowledge and skills.

Think of it as the introduction to an assignment. It should summarise everything you’re about to demonstrate in your CV and get the recruiter interested enough to read the rest.

3) Customise

Applying to lots of jobs can be time-consuming and dull. That makes it really tempting to use the same resume for every role.

But using a generic CV could actually stop you from being seen by the recruiter at all. That’s because lots of companies these days run their application through an electronic system that pulls out the best.

If you don’t have the right keywords for the role, you’re likely to miss out.

Instead, personalise each CV to the role. It can be time-consuming, but it’s better to send out ten brilliant resumes that get you ten interviews than 100 and not get any further.

4) Focus on results, not job functions

A lot of people use the job description from their current or last role to create their CV.

That can be a good solution if you don’t know where to start but it means it will probably be too focused on the function of the job and not enough on what you achieved.

Instead of focusing on the daily tasks of the role, discuss the big picture and the impact you’ve had.

Focus on results, major contributions and the key projects you’ve worked on. That will help you stand out from the crowd in a major way.

5) Include your social media

Although we often view social media as a very private part of our lives, there are ways of using it to promote your expertise.

In a world that is constantly connected, being transparent and informed is an essential part of the hiring process.

That means companies will look to find your social media if you don’t include them on your CV so you might as well add the profiles you want them to see.

For example, include your LinkedIn, which will give the recruiter a more detailed understanding of your work history.

If you have a professional TwitterFacebook or Instagram account, add those too.

And finally, make sure you’ve got the accounts you wouldn’t want a company looking through set to private.

Your CV is your best opportunity to represent yourself in the way you want a recruiter to see you.

Make sure you take advantage of that and go through your resume trying to think about how it comes off to your potential new employers.

The University of Sunderland in London’s Careers and Employability office is here to help you get ready for life after graduation.

To have a one-to-one chat with them, book a meeting through Compass.

Alternatively, email Find out more by following #WeAreSunLon on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.