Writing too much
As a good rule of thumb, your CV should be no more than 1-2 pages. Too much text can be irritating for the employer (or recruiter) – and can lead you to ending up in the “not called for interview” pile. So beware of using too many words and be selective with the information you decide to include. Just because you have worked on ten projects that are relevant for the role you are looking, it does not mean you need to describe them for ten pages on your CV. That sort of detail is not usually necessary at such an early stage in the application process. Also avoid making your CV a PowerPoint presentation – a trusty PDF file is perfect.
Including all of your previous jobs
How many previous jobs should you include in your CV? Generally it is enough to include the ones that are relevant for the position you are applying for. For example, you do not need to include the part-time shop assistant job you had as a student. The roles you have had since graduating in the appropriate field are often plenty. Rename the section in your CV “relevant previous positions” and remove the jobs that are irrelevant for the job you are applying for.
Forgetting to explain any gaps
Having a gap in your CV is not unusual – and it does not have to be damaging either. If the gap is more than 15 years ago, you may not even need to mention it. A recruiter or employer will focus mainly on what you have done in the last few years. But let us say you have a gap that is fairly recent – perhaps you spent two years working after university and then left the employment market for three months. In this case it is important that you explain the reason on your CV. Regardless of whether it was because you were on sick leave, unemployed or moved abroad.
Applying for a job in a different town without mentioning moving
Do you live in a different town from the one you are applying for a job in? Or maybe you live in another country? If so, it is vital that you specify in your CV how your housing will be arranged if you get the job. For example, are moving from Borås to Stockholm? Explain in your CV what your moving plans are and that you have arranged housing (if that is the case). Considering what the current housing market is like (particularly in big cities) not many employers want to take a chance and hire someone without fixed accommodation. So be clear about the logistics, otherwise there is a risk that the employer or recruiter chooses someone else.
Being unclear about previous responsibilities
Describe your responsibilities concisely and preferably in bullet points – and do not forget to explain each bullet point. For example, it is not enough to say that you had responsibility for staff. How many members of staff were you responsible for? Was it 30 or 300? Remember that the person reading your CV has no background information. It might be crystal clear to you what an Area Manager does in your company, but for a recruiter or future employer, it does not say very much. Many candidates fail by not describing their role clearly enough – they might be perfect for the job, but it just does not come across.
Not attaching a cover letter
Attaching a cover letter is obligatory in many cases, but it is also a way for you to explain things that did not fit into your CV. You can (and should) also tailor your cover letter to each job you are applying for. Do not make the mistake of sending the same cover letter to multiple employers, because it is transparent even if you do not realise it. A person who reads CVs all day is quick to detect mailshots. Take the time to describe why you are suitable for the job and weave your skills into the text. Think of the cover letter as an opportunity to answer the job advertisement emphatically.