Making a mistake on your CV or cover letter, no matter how big or small, will likely result in rejection. No matter how highly qualified you are, it’s important to remember there will be other candidates with the same skills as you that have written an impeccable CV.
The sheer amount of applications an employer will receive means they have a lot of choice. A small mistake could be all that separates you from the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ pile.
Before you send out your CV you should check out our top 5 CV mistakes and how to avoid them…
Using the wrong name
We don’t mean your own of course, but the HR manager’s. If you are addressing your CV directly to the hiring manager you need to make sure you spell it correctly. It could be quite insulting to spell someone’s name incorrectly, which could already put a downer on your chances of getting an interview.
Writing a cover letter? You should address it directly to the HR manager. Again, make sure you get the spelling right otherwise you could create a bad first impression.
If you would like some more help on how to write a cover letter and the importance of writing one, check out these two excellent guides:
Poor spelling and grammar
Spelling and grammar should be impeccable throughout. Even the smallest of errors could scupper your chances of an interview and frustrate the employer.
Every single word and sentence should be checked thoroughly before you apply. An error shows a lack of care and diligence, which could be an important aspect of the role you’re applying for. If the job places an emphasis on your written communication skills, you’re not going to make a very good impression with an error on your CV or cover letter.
If you want to understand how important an error free CV is to your chances of success, here’s a helpful article from The Guardian – Spell it out.
Using the wrong file format
There are so many different file formats you can use for a CV and cover letter – doc, docx, pdf, and so on. Some companies will specify which format they require, so take note of this and comply with their wishes to make things go smoothly.
Don’t be stubborn and assume that it’s ok to send your CV in any file format you choose, and don’t be afraid to ask if you’re unsure. If you are able to send multiple files it may be a good idea to send both docx and pdf. Most employers won’t still be using Microsoft Word 2003 and would expect the more recent docx file.
Using a silly email
Most of us have at one time or another have created a silly or ‘jokey’ email. This email should be reserved for personal use only and not for business.
Although you might find ‘[email protected]’ humorous, the hiring manager may not. It isn’t worth taking the chance, and instead you should always create a professional email address using your name. Something along the lines of ‘[email protected]’ is far more acceptable.
You are overqualified
If you write a CV that shows you have all of the skills and qualifications they require and much more, you could put yourself in the position of being rejected based on the fact that you are overqualified.
If you’re considering applying for a role that is lower down on the ladder than your previous positions, you need to adjust your CV accordingly. If this means leaving off a few skills or qualifications and maybe even taking out some of the responsibilities from your job titles – then go for it.
Don’t however remove any roles and leave employment gaps in your timeline as this would not look good. If you have managerial titles that you can’t remove, then consider explaining your reasons for wanting a job with less responsibility in your cover letter.
If you think offering much more on your CV than the employer expects is a good thing, have a read of this article ‘Why an employer won’t hire an overqualified candidate’ for more of an insight into what could go wrong.