One of the biggest mistakes people make on their CVs is to do with formatting and grammar. Formatting/grammar mistakes are also the worst kind of mistake to make – many employers will throw a CV away simply because there’s a spelling error, or the layout isn’t consistent. Making these sorts of mistakes shows poor attention to detail (often when you’ve written you’ve got good attention to detail on your CV!), and so it’s vital that you go over your CV to prevent this from happening. Here’s ten mistakes to look out for.
1. Spelling mistakes.
Spelling mistakes are really common in CVs, but they’re also really easily avoided. If there’s something you’re unsure of, then ask someone! Also make sure to utilise spell-check where possible. The best idea is to get someone to proofread your CV who you know for a fact is very good at spelling, and that way you’ll be able to fix them before it’s too late.
2. Grammar errors.
Grammar is a bit harder to deal with, as it can be much more confusing. However, it’s the same as spelling – get someone with a good eye for grammar to go over your CV once you’ve finished it. If you’re really stuck on what punctuation and sentence structure to use, then ‘The CV Method’ contains a whole section devoted to explaining potential grammar issues.
3. An inappropriate font.
It’s pretty standard now that CVs should only be using either an Arial or Calibri font. Stay away from garish, cartoon-like fonts at all costs (no Comic Sans!), and also make sure that the font is readable – although Times New Roman is a popular font, it’s not all that easy to read, and so it’s best not to use it.
4. The wrong font size.
Your CV must be as readable and visually appealing to employers as possible, and so the font size should be between 10pt and 11pt. Any smaller and it might be too hard to see – if it’s larger then it could either make the CV too long, or look like you’re trying to disguise a lack of information.
5. Inconsistent formatting.
Formatting is really useful to help the reader understand which parts of the text are titles, subtitles, or the main body of text. Formatting can also help to distinguish between different lines and sections. There’s nothing worse than being handed a page of information where the formatting is inconsistent – it just makes it really hard to understand. If your titles are bold, then make sure that they’re all bold. If you’re using circular bullet points on one section, then don’t decide to use squares on another. It will only make it more confusing.
6. No text formatting at all.
Actually, there is one thing worse than inconsistent formatting – no formatting at all. Imagine being given a CV where there’s no underlined text, or bold text, or bullet points; none of it would stand out, and it would just seem like a very large block of text. If anything, it would make your eyes hurt! You have to format your CV in some way – if you don’t understand formatting that well, then ask someone to help you, or refer to the formatting chapter in ‘The CV Method’.
7. Inconsistent spacing.
Spacing is another element that is pleasing to the eye, and can really help the readability of your CV. Make sure you have a spacing system to follow; no spaces between bullet points, one space between different bodies of text in the same sections, two spaces between different sections, and so on. It doesn’t have to be that specific system, but just make sure that, whatever you do, it ends up consistent.
8. Text doesn’t line up.
Word processing programs can be very frustrating when it comes to lining up text. To avoid this, go for something simple – you don’t need to put snippets of text all over the page. In this instance, the indent buttons are your best friends – make sure that all titles line up, and also that all bodies of text line up as well. If you’ve included lines in your CV, then they must all be the same length, and perfectly lined up on both sides of the page.
9. New page separating a title and body.
This is something to leave until last to check, as it could be affected by any other edits you make to your CV. If you’ve got the title of the bottom of one page, and then the body of text on the start of the next, it just doesn’t look good. Sure, it doesn’t take away from the content, but it’s not going to impress the employer either.
10. More than two pages long.
It’s an absolute no-no to have a CV more than two pages long (unless you’re going for a senior executive position or higher). If it turns out to be longer than two pages, then you can fix the problem by changing the font size, the spacing, the formatting and the font. There might also be information you can take out. Just make sure to follow all the guidelines mentioned about.
Don’t skip checking your CV because you don’t have time, or because you don’t think it needs it – it probably does! Doing this now could save you a lot of wasted effort later on.