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4 of the biggest mistakes applicants make on their CVs

31 / 10 / 2016
4 of the biggest mistakes applicants make on their...Sending a CV is often one of the first steps in the recruitment process when applying for a role. Whether you're dealing with a recruitment consultant or the organisation directly, it's crucial to make a good impression from the outset. 

Despite this, there are a number of common mistakes we see here at Barclay Simpson when people send us their resume - even among the most experienced candidates. 

With that in mind, let's take a look at some of the simple blunders that could have your application heading towards the rejection pile. 

1. Bad spelling and grammar 

It may seem obvious, but bad spelling and grammar is something we see time and again when we're deciding which applicants to progress through to the interview stage. 

Even if an excellent grasp of the English language isn't a key factor for the job, typos and other mistakes suggest a lack of care and attention that employers may believe spills over into other areas. 

Don't be afraid to have someone check over your CV for errors, particularly if English isn't your first language. You may even need to have your CV rewritten from scratch to ensure it hits the mark. 

2. Too many pages 

The best CVs are typically between one and two pages long, or slightly longer if you're applying for a particularly technical role. However, we often encounter resumes that are far longer than this. 

As a general rule of thumb, you should always have your current role and experience on the first page of your CV. If this isn't the case, you may need to shorten the document or at least organise it better. 

It's not uncommon for us to read CVs where it can take four or five pages before the candidate explains what they're currently doing. Ultimately, time-poor hiring managers are unlikely to appreciate having to trawl through multiple pages before reaching relevant work experience.

3. Social media discrepancies 

Most people put one or more social media contacts on their CV, such as a LinkedIn profile or Twitter handle. But it's important that the information on your social media accounts aligns with your resume. 

Different job titles, inconsistent dates or missing experience is often a red flag for recruiters and employers. At best, it shows you've not taken the time to update your CV and social media accounts properly, but at worst you may be suspected of massaging the truth. 

Obviously, you should also ensure you don't post anything controversial across your social media accounts that you wouldn't want a potential employer to see. 

4. Poor cover letter 

Cover letters aren't always essential when you're dealing with a recruiter; in fact, they can do more harm than good if you don't get it right. Writing no cover letter at all is often better than an obviously generic one sent out to all prospective employers or recruitment firms. 

Nevertheless, take the time to tailor the document to highlight how you fit the job specifications and avoid putting 'Dear Sir/Madam' - find out the recipient's name and address them directly. 

Again, check carefully for any spelling or grammar mistakes, as the person reading the cover letter will take this as a direct example of your communication and written skills. 

Hopefully, this advice should help you adjust your CV to give you the best chance of reaching the next stage of the application process. However, if you'd like more help, please get in touch with a representative at Barclay Simpson and we can give you further assistance.

Our 2016 Compensation and Market Trends Reports combine our review of the prevailing conditions in the corporate governance recruitment market together with the results of our latest employer survey.

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