The biggest CV faux pas you can make is a spelling or grammatical error. It just isn’t acceptable in today’s competitive job market, and with so many chances to use a spell checker or your own keen set of eyes, it isn’t going to go down well with an employer.

Equally, plagiarism on a CV is a huge mistake.  Employers do check – and so should you, using one of the many free plagiarism checkers out there (see e.g. PlagiarismChecker.net or Plagiarisma.net). But there are other CV mistakes which are less obvious, but still need to be avoided at all costs. Here are the top 4 CV mistakes to avoid.

Not tailored to the job

Using the same CV for many years and simply updating it with your current or previous position is not good enough. The job market has seen a huge increase in the quality of CV writing over the past 10 years, mainly down to the abundance of online help – guides, tips, CV templates, and so on. As such, if you don’t refresh your CV each time you apply you are going to be left behind.

To stay competitive your CV has to be tailored each time to the role and even the company that you apply too. If not, you run the risk of forcing the hiring manager to have to delve deeper into your work history to find what they need. Making the recruitment process harder for the employer is a terrible strategy!

A better strategy would be to research the company in-depth and then apply that new-found knowledge to your CV. Every single word should be dedicated to providing what the company wants, and your application should not be your chance to show off everything you’ve achieved.

Outstanding achievements should always be included, no matter how irrelevant they may appear – but as for the rest, you should focus your entire application on what the company needs. Aim to match keywords from the job advert and inject some commercial awareness. From start to finish your CV should be completely tailored and customised for that one role and company – nothing else.

Looking to apply for an accounting position? Here’s how to tailor your CV for an accounting role.

Lack of soft skills

A soft skill relates to a personal trait or attribute which is used on a daily basis, both in and outside of work. Communicating with co-workers and customers, building up a rapport with clients, organising your schedule, and solving problems are all examples of common soft skills. There are of course very important to any employer, and you can demonstrate them within your CV – you just have to remember!

A large weakness of many applications is the lack of soft skills. The employer will receive lots of highly skilled, experience and qualified applications, but it’s mainly the ones which can also demonstrate they have what it takes that will succeed. A combination of both hard (like machine operation or computer programming) and soft skills will put you in the driving seat when it’s time to decide upon interviews.

Don’t however just state that you are great at communicating with customers or that you are a team player – prove it with examples, results, achievements, awards and accolades.

To help understand what an employer looks for in a candidate – How can employers identify soft skills?

Employment gaps

A gap in your employment timeline could raise a red flag to employers. They may decide that you were lazy and couldn’t be bothered to work, or that maybe you’re just not hireable. It could be that you give terrible interviews or that you were even out of work due to personal health reasons and haven’t yet fully recovered.

Unless the employment gap is explained the employer will naturally jump to allsorts of conclusions – but you need to stop that from happening. Explain your employment gap and be honest and transparent. Whether you were out of work due to personal health reasons or you took a gap year – explain this on your CV so the employer can put it out of their mind and focus on your credentials.

Lack of achievements

A CV that doesn’t provide evidence of performance is worth its weight in paper. No matter how qualified the individual is, if they fail to show their achievements they will struggle to get an interview. The employer will choose a proven track record of a bunch of qualifications any day!

Make sure your achievements are littered throughout your CV. The choice is yours where you want to put them, but we would recommend either having a section dedicated to ‘Achievements, accolades and awards’ – and/or to have them under your most relevant jobs. Results matter, and the more you can provide the more likely you are to impress the employer. They want to see how you would perform for them, so show them how capable you are.