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CV Turnoffs: Four Things That Are Harming Your Interview Chances

Seasoned recruiters will tell you that experienced professionals often make similar mistakes on their CV that the recent university graduates make. Even though you may be perfectly qualified for a position, a lack of focus on your CV may be just as harmful as inexperience.

This article was written exclusively for Expat Network by Lee Tonge of CV Store


Within the first five seconds of looking at your CV, a recruiter / HR Manager should be curious to keep reading from your name to your experience. If you are not getting the responses that you are hoping for, then you might be committing some of these noteworthy CV mistakes.


CV vs. Job Description

If your CV reads as if you do not have a specialty, then your CV is a terrible representation of your skillset. For each position, you should have strong examples, explaining how you executed goals and met or exceeded expectations. Many people fill in work history as if they were writing a job description, which is a huge error in judgment. Show the recruiter what you did, how you did it, and what the results were. If possible, quantify your achievements with figures: “Increased customer service by 60% through introduction of staff product training” is far more powerful than, “Increased customer service”.


Lack of Focus

Your prospective employer does not know you. All they have is a CV to judge your experience and qualifications. If your CV is not focused and easy to read, then why should they keep reading? Why would they want to get to know you? If your CV is not tailored for the position that you are applying for, it demonstrates that you are either inexperienced, unqualified or simply too lazy to care. No matter the reason, you will not land an interview.


Too Long

No one has the time or is interested in reading a novel from a stranger unless they are in the publishing business. If you are asked to submit a cover letter and a CV, be considerate of their time and keep it short. Your cover letter should be one page at most, and your CV should not exceed two pages (three for more senior level and / or technical roles). Unless you are required to submit a writing sample or additional material, your prospective employer is opening thousands of emails with several attachments. The last thing they want to do is read a long-winded account of a potential candidate, making a case for themselves. By keeping it concise and strong, you will keep their attention enough to get a follow-up.


Chaotic Timeline

Life can get messy sometimes, but your CV should not reflect the chaos in your life. An employer wants your CV to make sense. Fill in the blanks as best as you can. If not possible, be creative with your CV format. Use one that highlights your relevant experience and skills. Then, explain your leave of absence in your cover letter. Do not expect your prospective employer to do the work for you because they won’t bother.

People often know the common errors, such as putting the year that you graduated from university if you are no longer a recent graduate or mentioning why you left each position. However, recruiters and employers often complain that job-seekers lack self-awareness with their CVs. Be smart and represent the best version of you that will make a stranger want to call you, meet you and agree to give you money to do the work.