Does this scenario sound familiar? You have put together a CV and sent it off to many, many vacancies. You wait. You hear nothing. You send it to more vacancies. Still nothing. You think, what could I be doing wrong?
The answer could be that your CV is letting you down. Fortunately, there are ways to improve it to make sure that potential employers take a second look instead of simply dropping your CV in the bin.
The following are some common reasons why your CV may not be getting the desired response.
You are applying for the wrong job
While you may not have every requirement on the job advertisement, it is important that you have the right qualifications and skills. If a company asks for four years experience when you only have two, it is safe to apply however avoid applying for jobs that you simply cannot do.
If you are submitting exactly the same CV to a myriad of different positions, you may not get a response. Tailor your CV for every position that you apply for by editing your personal statement and leaving out or adding in certain information.
Your CV should be no longer than TWO PAGES. This is the most common mistake and it can be a costly one. No employer has the time to look through pages and pages of information about a single candidate.
Bad word choice
Think about the words that you use to describe yourself, your skills and your aims in life. Do they say the right things about you?
Lack of or incorrect contact details
Make sure that you update your CV regularly with any changes to your contact details. Double check that your phone number and address are correct.
No personal statement
A personal statement (of no more than a few lines) at the top of your CV can give potential employers a basic overview that will help them to make their decision. Leaving this out could be harmful to your chances.
To improve your CV, try these tips:
Spelling, grammar and punctuation
It is incredibly important that you spell words correctly and use the right grammar and punctuation. DO NOT make use of ellipses (the dot, dot, dot) or exclamation marks. There is also no need for question marks.
Make sure that your CV follows a logical structure. Do not put your primary school details and results before your tertiary qualification under ‘education’. An employer does not care what your grade seven results were, but they will be very interested in the type of degree or diploma you have.
Make it easy to look at
- Use space, colour and the right font to ensure that your CV is easy to read and nice to look at. An organised CV implies an organised mind!
- Condense (cut out what you don’t really need) and keep it short and to the point
- Leave out anything that is not essential. Again, your primary school results, long jump trophy and your interest in knitting are not important for most positions.
Emphasise the good stuff
For example, if you received an A for English and History, but an E for Maths, leave your Maths mark out. You could do it like this:
Jones High School (finished 2002)
English, Afrikaans and History: A
Biology and Geography: C
Remember that your CV is a potential employer’s first impression of who you are. Take the time to make it spectacular!
CV Mistakes You Didn’t Know You Were Making
Your CV is a representation of you and what you have to offer a company. With this in mind, it is no surprise that many professionals are incredibly pedantic when it comes to perfecting this unique self-marketing tool. However, no matter how many hours you have spent adding to and proofing your CV, the chances are high that you made one or two fatal flaws that could hinder the likelihood of you landing your dream job. Let’s take a look at some of the most common CV mistakes:
Your CV is too long: It is advisable that professionals limit the length of their CV to a maximum of two pages. Including too much detail not only makes your CV difficult to read and navigate, it can also cause you to come across as arrogant.
Your CV is too short: Straight to the point is better, right? Indeed. However, a CV that is one page (or less) in length will immediately result in your potential employer questioning whether you are actually qualified for the job. It can also come across as slapdash and give off the impression that you aren’t all that enthusiastic about getting the job.
You use a generic cover letter: It is essential that you personalise your cover letter. In doing so, you demonstrate an interest in the position and automatically stand out from those who have gone the generic route. Your cover letter provides you with the opportunity to highlight specific skills and work experience that you believe are in line with the requirements mentioned in the job ad. This means that your potential employer will already have a good idea as to why you are the ‘best candidate for the job’ before even reading through the CV itself.
Inconsistent Formatting: The layout of your CV is more important than you might think. In order to avoid coming across as someone with poor attention to detail, ensure that you utilise the same font and font size throughout your CV, as well as the same spacing parameters. While your potential employer might not notice your perfect formatting, you can rest assured that he / she will notice if it is messy or inconsistent!
You have used tired clichés: ‘I am a people person and a perfectionist’, ‘I want to grow and develop my skills’ and ‘I believe I am the right person for the job because…’ have no place in your CV and won’t elicit much of a response other than plenty of yawns and eye-rolling.
You haven’t ordered your CV strategically: Make sure that the aspects of your CV that highlight you as a great candidate for a particular position are the first aspects that each potential employer sees. In order to ensure that this is the case, when it comes to work experience and education information, it might be a good idea to list in reverse chronological order.
Easy Steps To Improving Your Chances Of Getting Hired
Re-look at your CV. Unless you have had a decade or more of work experience, your CV should be no longer than two pages. One page is even better. The more concise and put-together your CV is, the better your results will be. Leave out unimportant information, make sure your spelling, grammar and punctuation is perfect and put down your contact details accurately.
Be pro-active. Nothing will be served to you on a platter. You have to put in the work and be perseverant if you want to land your dream job. Email and phone your contacts, use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to get word out about who you are and what you do. Network, do favours for others and apply for jobs regularly.
Work on your skills. While you are looking for your dream job, work on gaining skills and experience by doing courses, finding a mentor and asking for help or volunteering to work for free or to work for charity. These all look great on your CV.
Find a good reference. Nurture your relationships with your mentor, previous colleagues, teachers or classmates. Contact them and ask them to give you a reference. If you do volunteer work or an internship you can definitely ask for a reference.