I’m being inundated with CV enquiries at the moment so I thought it might help if I put together a list for you of the top 10 mistakes I see in CVs and how to avoid them.
First and foremost, remember how important Your CV is – it’s like a salesperson out there in the job market selling you to prospective employers. It’s going to get bundled up with a lot of other CVs and it probably won’t get a lot of time to make its sales pitch.
Get it right and you’ll end up in the maybe pile with the other potential interview candidates… but get it wrong and you could find yourself filed in the bin faster than you can say “Hi, my name is…”.
Follow these 10 tips to make sure your CV has a fighting chance of making it into the ‘maybe’ pile:
1. Spelling and grammar
Get someone else to proofread your CV. Spelling and grammar mistakes make you look sloppy and unprofessional and this doesn’t bode well for your alleged ‘attention to detail’. (I once saw CV that boasted: Excellent attention to detale.)
2. Too Long
Don’t exceed 2 pages. If you have held five positions or less you should try and get everything onto one single page. Don’t make the font too tiny though, be clever with the layout and margins instead. If you have considerable yachting experience you should still keep it to 2 pages max – summarise earlier experience into a paragraph to give your more recent and relevant info more room.
3. Wrong Content
In the work experience section make sure you relate the experience back to yachting. Think about the skills and attributes required in the position you are going for and demonstrate this in your other experience.
4. Waffling Profile Statement
Employers want to know what you can do for them and why they should consider you, they don’t want to read your entire autobiography. Focus on what’s in it for the person hiring you. Make it so punchy and attractive that by just reading the first line they are already thinking they should interview you.
5. Wrong Order
Separate your yachting experience from other relevant work experience and detail the yachting experience first so it is the first thing people see. Within each section list jobs in order of most recent first.
6. Unprofessional Photo
A silly profile photo might be fun for your Facebook friends, but not for your CV. Keep it simple – a head and shoulders shot with your hair neat and a nice big smile works best. For more tips on CV photos see my article: The 7 sins of no-pile photos.
Stick to black and white and use standard, sans serif fonts such as Arial or Helvetica. This will keep it looking really neat and professional. It might work in other industries but in yachting bright colours and fancy fonts, pictures and other distractions actually detract from your CV and make it look like you’re trying to compensate for weak content.
Don’t list travel as a hobby – it’s pretty boring and the chances are you won’t get to see much while yachting so this tells people you don’t know much about the industry. Hobbies can actually get people called for interviews because they reflect a unique side of your personality and give people an idea of what you are like as a person, so make them genuine and interesting.
Ensure your references have the correct contact details and make sure those people are prepared to speak on your behalf (and that they will say nice things about you!). If possible prime them with the sorts of things you’d like them to say about you – think about the kinds of attributes you need for the yachting position you want and ask them to talk about these. If people don’t expect the reference call or if what they say doesn’t relate to the jobs you’re applying for, they could do more damage than good.
10. First/Third Person
Lastly, always write your CV in first person. 3rd person in a CV can sound pretentious, as can the use of lots of Big Words. Keep it professional but use the normal kind of language you would in person interview, rather than hoity toity CV-speak.
Did these CV tips help? Let me know in the comments section below, and if you still need more help with your CV please don’t hesitate to check out my CV Services here.
Alison Rentoul is ex yacht crew with 15 years of yachting experience, and a professionally trained personal development coach working with crew worldwide, helping them realise their highest potential at every level. See www.thecrewcoach.com for more information.