Seven Deadly Sins of CV Writing

Last year the reality of my course choice hit me; I was in the second year of my business degree and very shortly I would be expected to undertake a year-long placement. This was the first time I’d had to actively go out and seek employment off my own back other than the stints of bartending and waitering over summer holidays.


My CV, I knew, would be one of the single most important factors in finding a job successfully.


I had to grab the employer's attention, show off my skills and abilities in the best possible light and most importantly land myself an interview. I got accepted on a placement that was right for me after searching hard and long, and I certainly made my fair share of mistakes along the way with regards to the content and format of my CV. I learnt a lot of things during my numerous rounds of applying; hopefully you’ll find the below helpful in landing your dream job...


These are the 7 sins of CV writing that I’ve experienced:

1. Poor layout

There is no excuse for presenting your CV in an unintelligible, confusing or unclear format and this is one of the biggest things that potential employers and recruiters pick up on. There are even a plethora of websites and services which can help you get this just right. Check out Careerlicious - a great example of a site that can help you create a stunning CV.


2. Not getting someone else to proofread

No matter how many times you read and re-read your CV you will find it’s very difficult to completely eliminate every little grammar error or awkward sounding phrase. The best thing to overcome this is to always get somebody else to help you check it and asking them to read it back to you out loud will go a long way to ironing out those minor discrepancies.

3. Exceeding 2 pages

Two pages is the unwritten rule for CV length writing. Attention spans are short at best, therefore make sure that the content of your CV is succinct and concise but hard-hitting. Time is money for recruiters as much as anyone else, and anything more than two pages may be considered a waste as time.

4. Coming across informal

You need to present yourself with a level of professionalism and the only way to convey this on a written document is the choice of words and the general tone that radiates from the page. One of the classic examples of informalities is the use of personal email addresses in the contact section and using slang or informal language. This comes across as highly unprofessional in the business world - avoid it at all costs!

5. Including irrelevant statements

In a nod to the third point about the length of your CV, it’s important to reiterate that irrelevant statements or sentences that waffle on and on are not favoured. Watch out for this trap in the section about your interests and extracurricular activities - does the person looking at your CV really care that you “enjoy socialising with friends and going to the cinema.” A good rule of thumb for personal information and hobbies is a) is it unique or genuinely interesting? b) does it have relevancy to the job? If the answer is no to both of these, then it’s wisest not to include it.

6. Not providing solid evidence of achievements

One of the biggest mistakes students make is the use of "wishy-washy" or qualitative statements whilst PEEing (Point, Example, Explanation). If possible use as much quantitative evidence as possible to create real facts and statistics which relate to your achievements. An example would be "I helped conduct surveys and got a good response rate" vs "I administered 300 surveys across campus (10,000 students) resulting in a respectable 3% success rate" or something similar. You get the point.

7. Not tweaking your CV to the role you're applying to

Lastly, if you were to just take one point away from this article it would be this; tailor your CV to the position you’re applying for. Although in a lot of cases jobs in certain industries may be pretty similar, job descriptions and advertisements vary a hell of a lot and if you don't adapt your CV to the specific criteria or buzzwords they've used, you're not going to land that interview. Lots of students and graduates fall into the trap of sending out generic CVs. Whilst it may seem quicker and more productive firing off hundreds of the same CVs to hundreds of different employers, if you take the time (15-20 minutes) to tweak it, you'll put yourself at a real advantage by standing out from the crowd.


To sum up...

Applying for jobs can be a time-consuming, and sometimes even tedious, process. So by just investing a bit of extra time on each CV by really tailoring it to the role you’re applying to, ironing out mistakes and making it as relevant as possible you’ll save yourself loads of time and with a little bit of luck be successful in securing an interview. Remember, it’s quality, not necessarily quantity.


This article was written by GradQuiz. GradQuiz is a breakthrough matchmaking platform where top students kickstart their futures.