This article is contributed by HJ Buckland.
If you’re a graduate setting out on the daunting task of job-hunting, you’re going to need more than just an updated CV. The graduate job market is extremely competitive and your document needs to make you stand out from the crowd. A good CV won’t get you the job but it will help you get the interview and influence the employer’s preconceptions of you as a potential employee before you arrive.
A study done by Business Insider found that a CV will be looked at for an average of just six seconds. Avoid some of the most common mistakes graduates make in their CVs and make sure you make that brilliant first impression.
Misspellings and grammatical errors
A large number of CVs end up straight on the ‘no’ pile due to glaring mistakes with grammar and spelling. It should be obvious that your CV needs to be checked and then checked again to avoid giving the impression of carelessness and lack of attention, but it is amazing how people make the most basic mistakes. Don’t rely on spellchecker. Get your family and friends to go over it for you to insure, whoops, I mean ensure you’re not the one cast aside for daft errors.
Not tailoring your CV to the job on offer
Always tailor your CV to your audience. Learn the language of the industry that you’re targeting and think from their perspective. It will be obvious if you just have a generic piece with a few changed keywords. The employer will pick up on this and may feel you are not serious about working for their company. Always pick through your skill set and highlight the key skills that are relevant to the job and don’t miss the opportunity to sell your relevant experience.
Making it too long
A CV should be one to two pages long. Any longer and you are unlikely to be giving relevant information. The idea is to give the employer a snapshot of your working history, not a bio about everything you have ever done. Your paper round in 1997 was great for getting the Saturday job in 1999 but it is highly unlikely to be of interest to the PR graduate position you’re applying for now.
Your CV needs to be appealing to look at and easy to read. If you have very long sentences and lots of dense paragraphs with little white space on the paper, it will look cluttered and be difficult to read. Make sure it is set out in a clear format and that your style is consistent. Bullet points that have headings changing from bold to italics will look sloppy and unprofessional. When it comes to sending, do not fold your CV in a careless way. Buy some A4 envelopes to ensure it arrives in perfect condition but if you do have to fold it, make it neat to avoid messy creasing. Good luck!