Top 5 mistakes to avoid when writing a CV

Show your resume to a career management coach and it will probably bring out some big mistakes. Some are obvious (a six-page resume is not inviting to read) while others are a little more surprising (those catchy words that everyone uses may not be a great idea after all).

We asked three career management coaches and resume writing experts what are the main mistakes they frequently see and how you can get rid of these bad habits to make your resume stand out from the rest (in the right way).

Error #1: CV too long

This is the “cardinal sin” according to Sarah Vermunt, founder of Careergasm, career management coach and author of Careergasm: Find Your Way to Feel-Good Work.

No one wants to read your resume if it looks like a novel,” she says. And more importantly, no one has the time to do it! »

Lee Weisser, Senior Trainer at Careers By Design, agrees. “The strengths of your professional achievements must stand out,” she says. In other words, don’t write your life story.

What to do instead: Stick to two pages

The golden rule for resumes is to keep them to no more than two pages, and the three career management trainers we talked to agree.

I’ve written resumes for CEOs as short as two pages,” says Kamara Toffolo, a job search strategist. What you should highlight is the best part about your experience to bring it to the attention of those who will look at your CV. »

Error #2: being lazy with formatting

Does your resume use Times New Roman font? Is it filled with information without any consideration for design? Don’t expect much success with employers, say the trainers.

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Using too many bulleted lists is not a good idea, according to Kamara Toffolo. A lot of people rely on the idea that they have to use lists for everything, which makes it difficult to get a good overview of the content,” she says. It’s the equivalent of highlighting a whole page instead of a few dots. »

What to do instead: strive for an easy-to-read design

You don’t need to be a layout expert, but try to have a clean and elegant presentation and use subheadings and bulleted lists only for the most important points.

Kamara Toffolo suggests using a non-serif font, such as Verdana, Arial or Calibri, while Vermunt points out that spacing the elements is the key to success. “The white space between sections allows the eye to breathe,” she explains.

Error #3: Using catchy buzzwords

Lee Weisser says it’s a bad idea to use company-specific keywords or generic buzzwords. So if you’re thinking of using words like “synergy” or phrases like “helped build team spirit,” think again.

“Opting for those kinds of abstract words that sound good without offering something to back it up means nothing,” she says.

What to do instead: be specific

Rather than vague clichéd phrases, Lee Weisser recommends highlighting appropriate achievements.

So, instead of saying you were a “team player”, talk about your specific ways of cheering you up at your office, such as starting a running club.

Error #4: Talking about tasks, not accomplishments

It’s tempting to simply list all the things you’ve done in your last few posts, but think of the boredom that will come to those who read. You’ve read e-mails, made phone calls, attended meetings… Zzzzzz!

“What recruiters and hiring managers want to know is whether you’ve done these things, but what are the results you’ve achieved,” says Kamara Toffolo.

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What to do instead: be specific, detail the results

Kamara Toffolo says that listing your specific and quantitative achievements is the best option.

So, if you’re on sale, give specific performance figures. If you’re a manager, discuss the size of your team and how you’ve improved the performance of the members.

Error #5: Creating a CV that works for all employers … without distinction

One of the biggest mistakes is to have a “vanilla” CV. Sarah Vermunt says people often opt for this solution, using the same document for each job application, because customizing a CV seems too difficult.

“Do you know what else is a difficult task? Sending your generic resume to a billion employers, a resume that no one will read because you’ve made no effort to personalize it for the job you want,” she says.

What to do instead: customize the CV for each job

Adapt your CV to the specific role you are applying for, and to the company.

Your chances of being taken seriously are greater when you speak the language of the employer,” says Vermunt. For example, if your CV uses the word “teamwork” but you notice that the job description uses the word “collaboration” instead, choose that term.

“And make sure that the skills and successes you highlight actually apply to the work you want,” adds Vermunt.

“If you’re an expert in Excel macros but it’s not relevant to the position you’re applying for, why would you include it on your CV,” she says.

Do you understand? Good! Now let’s get to work.

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