The first step to landing your next role is taking the time to ensure your CV is just right. Your CV should be an accurate representation of your best professional self and provide a memorable first impression to potential employers – hopefully for all the right reasons!
While most of us spend time creating, updating and maintaining our CVs regularly, it is still easy to fall foul of certain mistakes which can give future employers the wrong impression. So next time you are brushing up your CV, be sure to avoid some of the most common CV mistakes…
Errors in spelling and grammar
Accuracy is extremely important in the legal sector, so accidental typographical errors on your CV suggest a lack of attention to detail and sends a strong message about how you may approach your craft. A stand-out spelling error, misuse of grammar, or even poorly formatted documents are sure-fire ways to harm your credibility and undermine your application.
Do not rely on spellcheck to do the work for you; take the time to check and double-check all the content on your CV yourself. A thorough proof-read will ensure your CV is completely devoid of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Putting in the extra effort to ensure your content is polished and accurate will be worth it.
Stating false information
This one may seem obvious; from outright dishonesty to completely overstating your achievements, lying on your CV is rarely in your best interest. Top legal companies will fact-check CV content as part of their standard recruitment process, meaning any false information you provide will be rapidly uncovered. Inevitably this will undermine your credibility and be detrimental to your cause.
Marketing yourself in the best light and boosting your achievements is expected when “selling your skills” but non-specific or generic claims can also be harmful to your application; professing yourself as the “best performer” or “most successful in the team” can rarely be fully substantiated. Rather, specifically state your actual accomplishments, such as “graduated with first-class honours” or “won 90% of my cases last year”.
Even if you manage to secure a position having provided false information, you may end up completely out of your depth. For yourself and the company you’re applying for, lying is just not worth it.
Obscure gaps in job history
There may be a variety of reasons why you might have gaps in your employment history. Whether you have taken time out to travel, volunteer, for family reasons or to focus on personal projects, make sure to reference this in your CV. This demonstrates that your down-time has been spent constructively, rather than in inactivity.
Even gaps caused by factors outside of your control, such as serious illness, are worth acknowledging; future employers will not use this information against you.
Over-use of jargon
Chances are, the skills and experience on your CV are not totally dissimilar to other applicants, so it’s important to stand out. One way some candidates may try to do this is using buzz words that are intended to grab attention or that are ‘searchable’ on job sites. However, over-using generic clichés – which likely appear on profile after profile – may serve to make your CV feel insincere or forgettable.
“Dedicated”, “enthusiastic”, “experienced” and “passionate” are just some of the main offenders. While you may be all these things, try to get this across to an employer without simply listing your qualities. Varying your language and describing how your experience demonstrates your positive attributes is more effective than stating them outright. For example, rather than claiming you are a “team player”, describe a time when collaborating with colleagues helped you on a project. Ditch the jargon; show, rather than tell.
When applying for multiple jobs, the ‘one size fits all’ rule should not apply. Sending out a blanket CV may be a short-term time saver, but ideally all aspects of your application should take into account the specific job for which you’re applying.
Take some time to carefully consider the job spec, identify the most prominent candidate requirements and establish if you meet the criteria. If you do, how can your CV best reflect this? As mentioned earlier, this is not about bending the truth but rather highlighting your relevant skills and cutting down on unnecessary detail.
Taking care to research the role and tailoring your CV to suit the requirements of the job shows recruiters that you’re willing to put in the extra effort and are committed to your application.
You can find a range of CV and interview tips in our resource section or call our team on 01206 233500 if you want some one-to-one advice on seeking out your next opportunity.