What’s the Number One Mistake People Make on Their CV?

When you send your CV to a prospective employer, you’re going to be judged on many things, and probably not what you’d expect.

Firstly, you have to realise that if there has been a lot of interest in the job, there will be a pile of CVs for the HR manager to sort through. Do they have time to read each one in its entirety? Of course not. They will scan through them quickly and probably create two piles. One will be marked “read further”, the other will be the bin.

That quick scan may be the only chance you get to put your words in front of the person who is trying to fill that position, so you better make sure those words are good.

And the mistake most people make? Spelling and grammar.

There’s no excuse for it. Take a look at this:

“Jeff is a accomplished photographer who has sort to find teh best subjects for his photo’s which will bring the portfolios of his clients to life.”

Can you find the four glaringly obvious mistakes?

If I saw that, the CV would go straight in the bin. I’d probably burn it, just to make sure. I wouldn’t even get to the qualifications and experience.

But what if…?

Yes, I know, some people don’t have a command of the language, and it’s quite obvious that the above paragraph is someone applying for a job as a photographer. What’s English got to do with it? But it’s important because like it or not, you’re being judged. Also, what if you’re dyslexic? Isn’t this discrimination? Well put yourself in the shoes of the person reading the CV, do they know whether it’s been written by someone with dyslexia? It’s only discrimination if they specifically know it and then throw it in the bin. This is a quick scan by someone who doesn’t have time to read any further. I’m saying it’s right, but it’s what happens!

How to do it right

Here are a few steps that will ensure that the application and CV you send into your company of choice is spot on.

Use a spelling and grammar checker

Word has them built in. You know when you’re spelled something wrong when it puts a red squiggle under the words. Check them, double check them and put them right. Don’t always assume that Word has it right, either, double check what Word is suggesting you replace it with.

It also puts a blue squiggle under words where it thinks the grammar is wrong. Check it and double check it. If it doesn’t look right, put the phrase into Google and check. Or, if Word tells you what’s wrong, and it still doesn’t look right, put Word’s explanation of the problem into Google.

Get someone to check it

Ask a friend or even a few friends to check your CV. Tell them to be honest about it, too. Sometimes family may just look and say “oh, it’s fine, you’ll be OK” when they know there are mistakes, but they’re too worried about hurting your feelings to say anything. They’re inadvertently hindering your chances of a great job, so make sure you tell them to be harsh.

Read it out loud to yourself

This works particularly well for application letters. In the process of reading it out loud, you’ll notice mistakes that you’d become almost blind to when looking at it on a screen. Many writers do this when creating their literary works of art, it’s a great technique to iron out those hard-to-spot mistakes.

Take your time

Finally, don’t rush it. If you have a deadline to get the CV in, leave yourself plenty of time to write it and check it. Don’t quickly throw it together in an hour and then email it off. Make sure you’ve got a couple of days to think about it and go over what you’ve written in your head.

Sometimes you’ll be hit with some inspiration while you’re at work, or in the shower, or even driving to the shops. So, write it early, then sit on it for a few days while it’s fresh in your mind before finalising it and sending it off.

And get that job!