No job interviews? Here are five CV mistakes that could be holding you back

Is looking at your empty inbox getting you down? It’s a tough time to be job searching and there’s lots of competition out there.

If you’re sending your CV off left, right and centre but receiving no responses, it could be because your CV isn’t quite doing its job. 

These are the five most common mistakes people make on their CVs, why they could be putting employers off and how to fix them.

1) Sending identical CVs to every employer

Every job description is different, so your CV should be slightly different too. A generic response to a job ad looks non-specific and even disinterested. Tailor your CV and you’ll immediately showthe employer why you’re the ideal candidate.

How to fix it

Study the job description and person specification (if there is one), then tweak your CV to fit it. Draw out your most relevant experience and highlight the essential and desirable skills.

Some sections might need rephrasing but most will just need a quick edit.

2) Leaving employment gaps unexplained

It’s not unusual to have a gap in your work history. Rather than leaving the employer to wonder why, explain it.

Employers aren’t allowed to discriminate against you for taking time out because of illness or parenting, but they might discount your application if they’re unsure why you were out of work for a period. 

How to fix it

Whatever the reason for your gap – childcare, illness, looking after a relative, taking a brief career break – explain your career gap briefly with the relevant dates.

3) You look under-qualified

There’s something to be said for aiming high, but if you’re aiming too high you’re unlikely to bag an interview date. Reassess the roles you’re applying for and how suitable they really are.

If you want more responsibility or to move into another field, but you’re not getting any emails or phone calls, could there be a few important things missing from your CV?

How to fix it

If your CV can’t tick off the majority of the essential requirements, it either needs to be re-written to show them off, or you need to gain those missing skills and experiences. 

4) You look overqualified

Thanks to Coronavirus, a lot of people are job seeking at the moment. Some won’t be able to find an equivalent or more senior role because their industry isn’t hiring.

If you’re one of them, you’re potentially applying for some jobs that appear to be below your experience level. Employers want to hire people who will stick around, so overqualified candidates can raise concerns. 

How to fix it

There’s nothing wrong with a career sidestep – employers just want to know why. Tailor your CV to reflect the relevant skills you do have.

If you think management experience or extra qualifications are distracting from your core experience, consider removing them temporarily. You can explain your reasons for applying in more detail in your cover letter or in the online application.

5) You’re not making the most of the ‘top quarter’

Employers and hiring managers skim read CVs very quickly. You’ll stand a much better chance of impressing them if you do it in the top quarter of your first page.

How to fix it

Make the most of the space by getting rid of big margins. Tell them who you are in a concise 4-6 line professional profile and list your core skills underneath in 6-8 short bullet points.

The reader will know exactly what kind of candidate you are and what you can offer because you’ve made it easy for them. 

A long job hunt can be tough, especially when you’re not getting any responses. These five essential CV fixes should get your applications nearer to the top of the pile in no time.

Andrew Fennell is the founder of CV writing advice website StandOut CV. He is a former recruitment consultant and contributes careers advice to websites like Business Insider, The Guardian and FastCompany.

Photo by JoelValve