By Dorcas Karuana,

Recently, I advertised some positions and received a great number of CV’s from different candidates who probably thought they are the ideal candidates for the job. However, as I read went through the applications I found a number of mistakes made by many candidates either in the application email, cover letter or in the CVs.

I did not read some of the applications not because I hate the person or the person is not qualified but because s/he did not follow the job application instructions that are indicated on the advert. For those that passed the job applications instructions stage, I had time to scan through their Cover Letters and CVs. 

Employers will judge you on what your CV says about you. Therefore let it portray you in the best light by saying the right things about you. Does your do that? Unfortunately, if there are question marks in any area of your CV, the decision is made without giving you an opportunity to explain.

1. Lack of following instructions: For instance if the adverts says you write the subject of the email as; “Human Resource Assistant 25-30K,” then you have no choice but do it. Failure is portrays you as person who cannot follow simple instructions. Do not give the Human Resource Managers a reason to trash your CV by just sending in your CV without any word or writing “HR Assistant” or “Mary’s CV”

2. Grammatical Mistakes on your email application, cover letter or CV.
There’s no room for poor spelling and punctuation in either your email, cover letter or your CV. For example, some people misspell words in the email subject such as “Aplication For Human Resuorce Assistant.” For Cover letters and CVs, keep sentences short to avoid confused punctuation and, if you can, give it to a friend to check it over. Spell checking should be the very last thing you do before sending it off.

3. You did not attach the documents as asked in the advert.
In most cases, adverts will specify the documents you should send while applying for a job. If you are asked to send a CV and cover letter, then you got to do it. For Christ sake why do you send an application and either fail to attach anything or just attach a cover letter only? In this case, the cover letter is usually the body of your email and you should as well attach it to the email. A cover letter gives you a chance to get across your personality, ambition and to explain any gaps in your CV. Secondly; the CV should also be attached as either a word document or pdf.

4. Layout and saving of attached documents.

Yes this is another mess that locks out candidates from having their CVs read. Especially for those who use tables in their CVs, sometimes depending on the computer used by the HR Manager, the details tend to split and re-arrange from your initial layout and it becomes very difficult to connect the dots. Secondly always save your documents in ‘Word 97- 2003 Document’ as this is compatible to all computers. Saving I your documents as just ‘Word Documents’ makes it not open in some computers.

5. Lack of a prioritized CV layout

The way you layout your CV will depend on your age and work experience level. You can choose between a Skills based (work-focused) CV or Functional (education-focused) CV. If you have don’t have much work experience or you’re looking for a career change, you should place your skills and strengths section before education and employment.

6. Employment history

Make sure to include the jobs that are relevant to the position you are applying for. The order should be from the current work experience to the very oldest. However, if you have worked in many places, then give only 4 current and relevant work experiences to the job.

When listing duties and responsibilities do not give a one word sentence but give at least more then 5 words sentence. For instance, do not write; “Payroll,” as it is not clear what you did with payroll. Instead you may write, “Managing human resource payroll system for the company employees.”

7. Skills and strengths

Do not restrict your CV to a summary of your personal details, education and work experience. Instead, emphasizing your skills and strengths is vital when writing a CV. A strength is something you’re naturally good at. A skill is something you acquire with education and experience. Make sure to demonstrate how your skills and strengths will help you to do well in the job.

8. Lack of a good simple format

Do not use fancy fonts and borders or even colours on your CV unless you are applying for a highly creative job. This only takes the focus of the HR Manager from the important information in your CV.

9. Your personality

Your CV should follow a fairly standard format and the interview is where your personality is really important, but you can still stand out from the crowd with the language you use. Check out Clever Word Play for more ideas.

10. Failing to give contact details

It is important to provide a range of contact options including your postal address, your main phone number and your email address to make it easy for employers to get in touch with you.