5 CV Blunders That Could Cost You Your Dream Job

At The Staffing Experts, we’ve reviewed thousands of CVs from candidates across the width and breadth of the UK.  So we’d like to think we know a thing or two about what employers are looking for and, unfortunately, there are some common mistakes that we know can cost you your dream job.

Remember that the CV is your first opportunity to impress, so don’t let it slip by in a blur of words and pictures. Here go the top 5 common mistakes that set candidates up for failure:

#1 – Use a Professional Picture or No Picture At All

Leave out the dodgy picture! Especially the ones that were taken a few years ago on a Polaroid and have a few creases on them, they don’t scan well or do you any favours. If you choose to include a picture, make sure it is of professional quality – get a nice headshot done by a professional photographer.

#2 – Put Important Info at the Forefront

The hiring manager wants to know what you can bring to the table and how you can benefit their organisation, so it’s always best to get into the nitty gritty early on – please don’t waste page after page with acronyms. It’s likely somebody in Human Resources (rather than somebody with specialist knowledge) will look at the CV first, so they may not be a subject matter expert.

#3 – Highlight Your Qualifications

You have an immediate opportunity to let the reader know how highly qualified you are, so tell them! Put your qualification letters after your name, for example, Elizabeth Windsor CEng MSc BEng. So there we are, the Queen is a Chartered Engineer with a Master’s (you heard it here first). Ensure you include all qualifications that are relevant to the role you are applying for and make sure to emphasise your technical skills in order to stand out.

#4  – Leave Your Address at the End

Ok, so your home is important to you and you probably paid a lot of money for it, but guess what? The hiring manager really doesn’t care where you live until they think they want to see you so put this information at the end of the CV. It’s also the first piece of information a recruiter will remove,  so don’t make it prominent. 

Privacy is increasingly important for many of us, so it is completely acceptable to simply state the area you live in rather than the exact street address and house number.

#5 – Demonstrate Your Value

Remember the main buying motives aka the reasons why anyone buys anything ever! You must relate what you do and what you have achieved to…

  • Making money
  • Saving money
  • Saving time
  • Improving compliance – in other words: looking good!

So, make sure you clearly demonstrate how your past experience and skills have saved the organisation money or grown profits – this is the key to getting through to the next stage of selection.

There you have it, don’t make these common mistakes and your world will get infinitely better. Well, at least your CV will. Don’t forget to explore our Candidate Corner where you can find more tips for landing your dream job.

Unlock Your Potential: 5 Interview Tips You Need to Know

There isn’t any exact science when it comes down to interviewing, but you can stack the percentages in your favour by following these simple tips:

#1 – Dress Well!

Now, I don’t mean Mickey Mouse Ties (yes, I’ve had one of these) and bright red and green socks. I mean a clean, tidy business suit, plain shirt/blouse and a matching tie – follow this simple rule a little bird once told me; 1 plain and 2 stripes or 1 stripe and 2 plain. The trick here is to look smart, neat and tidy – don’t be the one who stands out for all the wrong reasons!

#2 – Take Time to Prepare

Make sure you prepare well. It’s no surprise that the candidates who prepare the most thoroughly get the best jobs, it’s a fact and it’s something that there can be no excuse for. The internet has been around long enough to ensure that there is information about the company and sector you’re working in, so instead of watching the TV get busy reading and researching. Here are our favourite preparation tips:

  1. Research the company in detail
  2. Find out who you are meeting with and research their backgrounds
  3. Check out the company’s social media profiles to get a feel for the culture 
  4. Think about potential questions that may be asked during the interview and practice answering them.

#3 – Consider What Questions to Ask

Have plenty of questions written down for the inevitable “Do you have any questions?” section at the end of the interview. It will happen and you know it will so make sure you’re ready for it. This bit is straightforward and you can easily generate the questions from your preparation time. For example, ask about company culture or the routes of progression; basically, anything that’s important to you.

Don’t forget – interviews are a two-way thing. Asking questions you want to know the answer to is the perfect way to get to know the employer and the interviewer! Make sure that you have enough company information so that you feel comfortable, confident and excited going forward.

#4 – Use the STAR Method

Use the STAR method for delivering your answers to questions you’re asked: Now many of you will have heard of this and it’s a common thing. The beauty of this is it allows you to elaborate in context and it opens the door for further questions about the topic you have chosen to respond with. It’s a clear, structured and concise method and the best way of minimising the number of questions that you just “don’t know”. Here’s a recap:

Situation: The position I was in

Task: What I was asked to do while in that situation

Action: What I did after I was asked to do what I was doing in the situation

Result: What was the end product of the action?

For example,  if you are asked a question about teamwork:

Situation: The position I was in was part of a team in my current job. 

Task:  My team was asked to develop a marketing strategy for a new product launch. 

Action: I worked with my team to come up with ideas, delegate tasks and create an action plan. 

Result: We successfully launched the product on time and delivered better-than-expected results.

This structure will help you ensure your answers remain focused, relevant and clear.

#5 – Don’t Be Late!

DO NOT BE LATE FOR ANY REASON IN THE WORLD (WITH THE EXCEPTION OF NUCLEAR DISASTERS). If you’re going to be late then it would probably be best to rearrange the whole thing! A minute here and there isn’t going to kill you or the interviewer, but it may be the difference between two equally matched candidates and it’s just not worth the risk. To avoid being late, you should:

  • Plot your route on a map the day before. 
  • Leave plenty of time to get there – say up to an extra hour if you think public transport will be slow/busy (it usually is). 
  • Wake up early and double-check everything – luggage, documents, keys etc. 
  • Leave at least half an hour earlier than you would do if it were a normal working day to account for traffic.

Follow these five tips and you’ll be well on your way to success. For more candidate tips, check out our Candidate Corner where you can learn more about what employers are looking for and how to ace that all-important interview. Good luck!