Never, ever embellish the truth in your job application, no matter how well you think you can cover it up. It only takes a quick phone call for the interviewer to discover that your First in Biochemistry from Oxford is actually a NVQ in Food Science from your local community college. Highlight the positives in your CV, and don’t include blatant lies – even in the section on your leisure activities.
Unless specifically asked to provide a photo of yourself, leave it out. The skills, achievements and experience you describe should carry weight with the interviewer, not your hairstyle. In the same way, you should not provide the interviewer with age, weight, height, religion or marital status unless strictly relevant to your application.
Any spelling or grammatical mistakes in your CV are going to create a negative perception in the mind of the interviewer – why would they want to employ someone slapdash? Whilst spell-checkers can be useful, they don’t catch everything and can often end up erroneously altering words to American spelling conventions. Get as many people as possible (who can spell) to go over your CV for typos and grammatical errors.
Any unexplained gap in your employment history will be regarded with suspicion by the interviewer, so make sure to plug those holes. Even times of unemployment can be adequately justified if you focus on the development of soft skills such as project management, communication or teamwork.
A sure-fire way to boost your chances of getting an interview is to tweak your CV for each application you make. Do your research on the business or organisation – what type of language do they use on their website to describe their staff and their outlook? Can you mirror this in your CV? Go through the job spec with a fine tooth comb, making sure to include examples proving relevant experience for all requirements of the role.
Decorative patterns and eccentric formatting can often detract from your message. Keep your CV uncluttered with short sentences, big margins around your text, and key points emphasised. Bullet points can be useful in moderation.
Your CV should not become a confessional, a list of mishaps or a series of excuses. Exorcise any references to failure – whether that’s examination, marital or business. Write positively and present your best face to the world, concentrating on the experience and achievement that equips you for a bright future.
Whilst there’s no hard and fast rule for the length of a CV, a couple of pages are usually regarded as the norm, unless you’ve had a very long career or the interviewer specifically asks for a more detailed CV. Keep it punchy, get your foot in the door and save the more involved explanations for your interview.
The most important information – usually your skills and recent experience – should be clearly laid out at the very beginning of your CV, as it’s this that will get you long-listed for an interview. Don’t assume the interviewer will search through reams of information to find out if you’re qualified for a position – they won’t!
The golden rule for job applications is not to rush. Give yourself ample time to collate the information for your CV. If you dash something off the night before a deadline and it leads to your application being discounted, all your experience and hard work will be wasted.