How not to Format your CV
With US unemployment rates running at an alarming 9% and many of America’s major cities seeing up to 9 job applicants per post, getting an interview, let alone finding a job is becoming a challenging task in itself. Still, many job candidates are failing in the starting blocks and not even giving themselves a proper chance in the race to get a job. This is because a lot of job applicants are making rudimentary errors in the preparation of the CV, which are causing recruiters to reject potentially suitable applicants simply because they have not presented their skill as effectively as other candidates.
However, the sad thing is that there is no good reason for any applicant to send our a poor quality resume, because there is an abundance of free, good quality advice on the web, written by experienced recruiters, which will help you to prepare an excellent CV, some of which I have presented below.
1. Do not send the same standard CV for every job application – Tailor it every time
The approach of creating one CV and using it to make multiple job applications is frowned upon by recruiters who can easily spot this ‘scatter gun’ approach. It is one of the most common CV mistakes. It suggests to the recruiter that the applicant is not taking the appropriate time to carefully consider whether they are truly suited to each job and company they are applying for – it is one of the quickest ways to get your CV put in the rejection pile. Therefore, job applicants should tailor their CV each time to suit each application. For example, does the role have an emphasis on people management or specific products? If so, adjust your CV and accentuate your skills and experience in these areas. As a result, your CV will be more relevant and will make a bigger impact.
2. Do not send your CV without spelling and grammar checking.
All good word processor packages containing spelling and grammatical checking, meaning that there is no excuse for candidates sending out CVs that are riddled with these kind of errors. Despite the wide availability of this technology, spelling and grammatical errors are one of the commonest reasons for CV rejection. It shows a lack of attention to detail which employers will be concerned will be reflected in your work. Ensure you check your work.
3. Poor layout makes it harder for the recruiter to locate key each information
A poorly laid out document, that contains long passages of continuous prose is harder to read and it will take longer for a recruiter to digest it and find the relevant information relating to your skills and experience. This could mean they overlook skills, increasing your chance of being rejected. Ensure that you use headings and bullet points, (the latter especially so when writing job descriptions and achievements).
4. Don’t use an unusual or strange font. Use a standard easy to read font.
There is much debate over which is the most readable and therefore best font to use in a CV. Some say that a Sans Serif font like Arial is better for the screen and a Serif Font like Times New Roman is more easily tracked by the eye on print. Since, the first level screening of your CV is likely to be online, I recommend you use a Sans Serif font like Arial. Alternately, if you want to choose a font that is favored by your potential employer, visit their site and pick a readable font that they have used for their corporate website.
5. Don’t just talk about duties. Also talk genuine achievements.
Under each role, you should set out your achievements in bullet format, as opposed to a paragraph, as this is the most effective way to demonstrate that you are a high performer who makes a difference in the work-place
6. Don’t write your job description in paragraph format. Use bullets!
When you describe your role at each company, ensure that you set out your duties in bullet point format and not paragraph format as this will make it easy to a reader to locate specific experiences.
7. Don’t write overly long job descriptions. Be concise.
Do not list out every single duty and achievement when writing each role. Simply detail the main and most pertinent responsibilities.
8. Avoid overuse of jargon and abbreviations
You should take into account the fact that the first level of screening for your CV may be a HR representative who lacks the technical/industry knowledge that the hiring manager might have. If the HR manager can’t understand the CV, there is a good chance you may not be shortlisted. Therefore, ensure to prepare your CV with the non-technical reader in mind, which means minimal jargon and clarification of any abbreviations, so the document can be read by a broad readership.
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